The changing face of public financing of higher education, with special reference to South Africa

de Villiers P. ; Steyn G. (2007)


Higher education displays characteristics of both private and public goods and there is a trend worldwide to expect individuals to pay more of the costs of their higher education. In South Africa public funding of higher education decreased from 0.86% of GDP in 1986 to only 0.66% in 2006; so that student tuition fees had to be increased to compensate for this loss of income. In the process staff numbers were kept relatively constant while student numbers increased appreciably. Two future scenarios, based on public higher education expenditure as a percentage of GDP and on real state allocation per WFTES, are spelt out. Although the qualifications awarded per FTE academic staff member increased over time, the graduation rates of the higher education institutions in South Africa are worsening. High-level research, measured in publication units per FTE academic staff member, shows a disturbing decreasing trend since 1997. © 2007 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2007 Economic Society of South Africa.

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