South African Higher Education 30 Years into Democracy (1994–2024): Challenges, Opportunities, and Future Prospects

Daniel N. Mlambo, Thabo Saul, Thamsanqa Buys


Most sub-Saharan African (SAA) states have massive populations, which bring many social dynamics and challenges for domestic policy in many sectors. This stems from reforms that, in most cases, require governmental intervention. In the education sector, most youth attend government schools in large numbers. Some of the challenges these numbers create include overcrowding, lack of technology, lack of qualified teachers, high student-to-teacher ratios, poverty in some households, and inequality. South Africa has 26 universities, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, and private colleges. These institutions, especially those the government runs, typically see a massification of local and international students studying at them. This raises the question of whether it is a population or government failure. This question stems from the fact that 26 public institutions cannot cater to the many students transitioning from secondary to higher education (HE). Using a qualitative research methodology, I contend that the South African government should invest more in HE to solve the transition problem as the population grows with limited university space to accommodate everyone.

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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