Financing higher education in South Africa: Public funding, nongovernment revenue and tuition fees

  • G Wangenge-Ouma
  • N Cloete
  • N Cloete


The funding of public higher education is currently a moot issue in South Africa. Public funding has been declining and opportunities for winning non-government revenue remain limited. The frequent raising of tuition fees, which is one of the main strategies public universities have resorted to mitigate declining state funding is not without controversy. The article discusses these funding challenges. It argues that the current higher education funding conundrum will hamstring the achievement of the important higher education policy goals articulated in the National Plan on Higher Education. The article finally argues for a shift towards a redistributive funding model by changing the current formula for allocating funding for student aid to universities so that resources are redistributed in favour of the genuinely poor. By so doing, it is anticipated that higher education will be affordable for the poor who are generally sensitive to tuition fee increases, and also the rich, who can afford the current (high) tuition fee charges.

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol. 22 (4) 2008: pp. 906-919

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1011-3487