At a press briefing that took place in Pretoria, Statistician-General Pali Lehohla said that population group statistics showed that the numbers of people who attended universities in 2002 were: blacks, 2.8 percent; coloureds, 3.4 percent, and whites, 15.6 percent. In 2014, the number of blacks attending universities had risen only minimally to 3.4 percent, while for coloureds it had declined to 3.0 percent and the attendance of whites had ballooned to 23.3 percent.
These figures were part of the 2014 General Household Survey which StatsSA released during the briefing. The survey indicated that in 2002, Indians attending universities stood at 12.7 percent and this figure had increased to 13.1 percent.
“People say there are a number of black children that are attending school – that is true but it is the (population) proportions that count, not just the numbers,” he said. “The number of blacks in universities is bigger but the key issue is the proportion. Can you imagine the number of black children aged 18 to 29 attending school? That’s about 2 million or more.”
“That problem translates to whether there are employment opportunities or not. That is why whites have a very low unemployment rate,” Lehohla said. Touching upon history, he said, “Of course one has to remember historical legacies and so on, but looking forward we should be aspirational and shouldn’t argue on numbers, but on proportions of the population.”
The percentages relate to young people in the 18 – 29 age group. The survey estimated that there were 783 545 students enrolled at higher education institutions across the country. Almost two-thirds of the students were black Africans while 24.9 percent were whites, and 5.9 percent each for the coloured and Indian/Asian populations.
The survey found that 79.3 of students in this age group were enrolled at public education institutions in 2014, and approximately 89.2 percent of students paid amounts of R4,000 or more per year in tuition fees. The survey also found that only 16.5 percent of students benefited from bursaries or fee reductions.