Department Spending Billions To Build Universities

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The Higher Education department received a budget allocation of  R133.8 billion for the 2023/24 financial year. A portion of this budget is being spent on improving the county's universities through various infrastructure projects. 

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In a recent parliamentary session, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) provided a comprehensive breakdown of the various infrastructure projects being untaken at the country’s universities along with information on how they are spending their 2023 budget allocation.

The department was asked to account for how much of its 2023/24 budget has been spent. 

The DHET provided valuable insights into budget allocation, expenditure, and ongoing initiatives. The data, spanning up to 30 September 2023, sheds light on the state of higher education finances and the progress of key projects across various universities.

As of 30 September 2023, the department disclosed a total expenditure almost R92 million against the 2023/24 financial year budget. Notably, over R10 million is attributed to Direct Charges.

The expenditure is distributed among various programmes, with significant allocations to key areas shaping the landscape of higher education, 

  • Programme 1: Administration - Almost R235 million (45.4%)
  • Programme 2: Planning, Policy, and Strategy - Almost R919 million (52.1%)
  • Programme 3: University Education - Over R72 million (77.8%)
  • Programme 4: Technical and Vocational Education and Training - Over R6 million (48.2%)
  • Programme 5: Skills Development - Over R142 million (32.9%)
  • Programme 6: Community Education and Training - Over R1,4 million (52.7%)

Billions of rands will be spent on new infrastructure projects, refurbishment and improvement of existing infrastructure. There are approximately 2 million students in the post-school education sector in South Africa. Many of these students are furthering their education at the country’s 26 universities. 


All of the county’s 26 public universities have outstanding infrastructure projects, with a cumulative value of R9.416 billion from previous cycles. Completion dates for these projects span multiple years depending on the nature and scope of each initiative.

Background Information

In recent years, the South African government has placed a heightened emphasis on the enhancement of higher education and training facilities to meet the evolving needs of a dynamic and globally competitive landscape. 

The DHET is also making progress on its plans to build two new universities in South Africa. The construction of these two new universities is set to get underway in the next two years. 

Feasibility studies for the establishment of the University of Science and Innovation in Ekurhuleni and the Crime Detection University in Hammanskraal have already been completed. 

In 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the establishment of the university in Ekurhuleni is critical as it is South Africa’s only metropolitan area that does not have a university.

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