2013 Higher Education Data: Overview

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An overview of the South African Higher Education System

The South African higher education system includes 26 public higher education institutions:

  • 11 traditional universities : Cape Town, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Limpopo, North West, Pretoria, Rhodes, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, Witwatersrand
  • 4+2+2 comprehensive universities : Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan, Walter Sisulu, University of south Africa, : Venda, Zululand, : Sol plaatjie, Mpumalanga
  • 6 universities of technology : Cape Peninsula, Central, Durban, Tshwane, Vaal, Mangosuthu
  • 1 Health Sciences University : Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences incorporated MEDUNSA*

As of 25 September 2015, there were also 124 Private Higher Education Institutions and 96 registered and provisionally registered**.

In 2013**:

  • the public higher education institutions employed 52 571 academic staff and 137 571 staff in total
  • the public higher education institutions enrolled:
    • 983 698  students in total
    • 800 955 undergraduate students
    • 159 548 postgraduate students
  • the public higher education institutions awarded:
    • 180 698 qualifications at all levels
    • 49 051 qualifications in business and commerce
    • 52 540 qualifications in science and technology
    • 79 233 qualifications in the human and social sciences
  • the public higher education institutions produced:
    • 10 809 master's degrees
    • 2 051 doctoral degrees 

Of the 2008 cohort**** of first-time entering students (excluding UNISA) the following percentage graduated after 6 years:

  • For 360 credit Diplomas 50% graduate improving from 47% graduates for the 2006 cohort
  • For 3-year Degrees 59% graduate (no improvement)
  • For 4-year Degrees 63% graduate improving on the 56% graduates for the 2006 cohort

The average full cost of study was estimated at R60 710 per student for the 2013 academic year from being R38 703 in 2008****. That is a 57% increase from 2008 to 2013.

The total research output for 2013 amounted to 14 008.67 units of which****

  • 11 997.38 units were for contributions to accredited journals
  • Book publications/ chapters in books contributed 774.37 units
  • Contributions to published conference proceedings contributed 1 236.92 units.

When considering field of study, research output (percentage) in 2013 was published in the following fields ****

  • 8% in Business and Commerce,
  • 39% in Humanities, and
  • 53% in Science, Engineering and Technology.

* See the government gazette: http://www.dhet.gov.za/Gazette/38086_10-10_medunsa%20gazette.pdf

**Figures for the private higher education institutions were obtained from the “Register of Private Higher Education Institutions” produced by the Department of Higher Education and Training on 15 September 2015; http://www.dhet.gov.za/SitePages/DocRegisters.aspx.

***Data for the Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS) is collected from higher education institutions during and at the end of each academic year. Once it has been collected, it is verified and audited and discrepancies are resolved. For this reason, the audited figures for 2014 will only become available late in the second half of 2015.

**** See VitalStats 2013 for further details; http://www.che.ac.za/media_and_publications/monitoring-and-evaluation/vitalstats-public-higher-education-2013-0