n South African Journal of Higher Education - Government funding of universities in the new South Africa : some reflections on legal issues and implications

Volume 19, Issue 6
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



This article focuses on the fairness, reasonableness and constitutionality of the policy for funding of public higher education in South Africa adopted in terms of enabling legislation. In terms of this funding framework, subsidy provided to universities is based, among other things, on student numbers (with a greater subsidy being allocated to postgraduate students) and the research output of each university. The Historically Black Universities (HBUs) may well argue that, owing to a variety of factors that place them at a competitive disadvantage with the Historically White Universities (HWUs), this funding policy is unfair, unreasonable and unconstitutional. In particular, it may be argued that the policy doesn't take into account the disparities between HBUs and HWUs and that it violates the right to equality and perpetuates the disadvantages of the past. The policy may also be seen as a violation of the constitutional right to education. The article concludes that the so-called redress funding mechanisms contained in the new funding framework are of no special advantage to HBUs any more than they are to HWUs. As such, in addition to being unfair, unreasonable and unconstitutional, the new funding framework may inadvertently serve to perpetuate historical disadvantages other than redressing them.

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