Why South African Universities can’t afford Free Education

UCT Graduation

Scholarshipnations.com -Lazy students who take longer to finish their studies are the main reason that free education is not possible, according to statistician-general Pali Lehohla, who was speaking at the launch of Statistics South Africa’s report on the finances of higher education institutions on Tuesday.

Lehohla said free tertiary education would be possible if it were not for university students taking more years to complete their courses than required to, reports IOL.

This has resulted in a major backlog of students at these institutions, he said.

“If you look at countries like Korea and Switzerland, the governments are paying for university, fully.  (In South Africa) there are 400,000 out of a million that should not be there, they are just sitting there like a cloud. If they were not there, it is possible that government could pay for it.”

“They are not moving at a pace they are meant to. Now you need to solve that situation so that you do not have that 400,000 because they clog that system.”

“Something is happening in the system that is trapping students in there, they are not getting out. We are paying for people that should not be there and that is what is making university so expensive.”

In 2016, 975,837 students enrolled in higher education institutions.


According to Lehohla, the country’s 26 higher education institutions received money in three main ways over the course of 2016 –  R30 billion in the form of grants,  R21.6 bilion from tuition fees and R15.7 billion in the form of donations.

Lehohla said South Africa’s public higher education institutions had a total income from operating activities of R67.4 billion.

“This represents an increase of R6.4 billion from the income received in the 2015 financial year of R61 billion. The largest contributor to total cash receipts from operating activities for the 2016 financial year was other receipts, R37.3 billion, followed by grants which was R30 billion.”

In 2016, higher education institutions’ main costs were compensation of employees (R33.7 billion) and purchases of goods and services (R21.6 billion). The purchase of non-financial assets (such as buildings, equipment, etc) cost R6.2 billion, and other payments amounted to R3.3 billion. Interest costs were R369 million, the report said.

Credit by : businesstech.co.za