Funding sources for public higher education in South Africa: institutional responses

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 4
  • Abstract:

    Tuition fees and the use of student loans to complement government’s allocations have become unavoidable because of increasing competing new priorities for funding. This article addresses the funding sources of public higher education through tuition and loans. We explore the effects of shifts from first-stream income (government appropriations) towards second- (tuition fees) and third-stream (philanthropic funding and academic entrepreneurialism), and how tuition fees and student loans might impact on access, equity and throughput rates in South Africa. The qualitative study using semi-structured interviews was adopted to obtain data with expert information selected by purposeful sampling from four types of higher education institutions in South Africa. The data were also obtained from national policy and institutional documents. We make a case for the indivisibility between first-, secondand third-stream money incomes and between public-private benefits of tuition fees and student loans. We argue that the ability of institutions to raise third-stream income depends on their history, geopolitical location, programmes offered and their proximity to industry, so as to engage research activities that promote third-stream income. We further argue that institutions in mainly rural provinces, and students from poor family backgrounds, most of whom are Black, generally lack the necessary cultural and social capital to make use of opportunities in the form of bursaries and student loans.