VitalStats: Public Higher Education, 2014

CHE > Media and Publications > Monitoring and Evaluation > VitalStats: Public Higher Education, 2014
November, 2016
Council on Higher Education


The VitalStats: Public Higher Education series was launched in 2012 with VitalStats 2010, and is now into its fifth edition. The Council on Higher Education (CHE) has found that the series has been well received by the sector, with researchers and other interested stakeholders making extensive use of the data. The series provides recent, audited data on the higher education sector in an easy to use format.  VitalStats 2014 contains data for the period 2009 to 2014, which is the latest audited data available for the sector. The CHE hopes to extend the publication to the private sector when the necessary audited data is available.

The majority of the data used are collected through the Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS), and the CHE appreciates the Department of Higher Education and Training’s (DHET) assistance in collecting and extracting these data and for providing other necessary financial and research information. Thanks are also due to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and Statistics South Africa for providing relevant data.

The publication starts with four sections on student data, namely (i) overall enrolments and completions; (ii) enrolments and completions by qualification type; (iii) by field of study; and finally (iv) by institutional type. Student data is followed by a section on data on staffing at public universities. The sixth section of the publication consists of cohort analysis of students who began their studies in 2009, tracking their respective throughput rates both at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Owing to the different mode of study (distance and often part-time) at the University of South Africa (UNISA), which impacts on the time it takes a student to graduate, data for UNISA are considered separately in this section (as indicated on the relevant graphs). The final section of VitalStats provides financial and research output data. The publication includes a glossary based on HEMIS definitions.

The CHE is grateful to Charles Sheppard for compiling the necessary cohort studies and for some financial information, and to Fiona Lewis for data on the full cost of study. The role of the Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate staff, particularly Michael Gordon, in developing VitalStats is appreciated. The CHE welcomes any suggestions or requests for additional copies of the publication. Please direct these to Ntokozo Bhengu at The publication can also be downloaded from the CHE’s website (