Racial Imbalances

One of the main objectives of restructuring the higher education system was to create racial balance across all types of institutions. Under apartheid, there were two institutional types: universities and technikons. The majority of black South Africans were enrolled in technikons.

Following the end of apartheid, black enrollment percentages in universities began to increase, growing from 50 percent in 1995 to 53 percent in 2003. And in technikons, black enrollment grew from 47 percent to 77 percent during the same period. Meanwhile, the enrollment percentages of white students dropped at universities from 38 percent to 32 percent and at technikons from 41 percent to 14 percent.99

Beginning in 2004, data was available for enrollment rates by the three institutional types established as a result of the reorganization of the higher education system: universities, comprehensive universities, and universities of technology. When looking at enrollment rates across the three types of institutions by race, Africans make up 50 percent of the students at universities, 63 percent at comprehensives, and 77 percent at universities of technology.

Of the three, the universities of technology come closest to representing the overall population. The representation of black South African students at the comprehensives also moved toward a more representative profile of the overall population; this may be attributed to the incorporation of technikons into these universities during the mergers. But when looking across all institutional types, white and Indian students were overrepresented and colored and black students underrepresented.100

By 2013, black students represented 84 percent of those enrolled in universities of technology, 84 percent of those in comprehensives, 57 percent in traditional universities, and 71 percent of those enrolled in distance education. In comparison, white students represented 6 percent of those enrolled in universities of technology, 10 percent enrolled in comprehensives, 27 percent in traditional universities, and 16 percent in distance education. Black students’ enrollment in comprehensive universities has increased by more than 20 percent since 2004, while white students’ enrollments continue to decrease as a percentage of total enrollments across all institutional types. 101

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