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The staffing profile at South African universities has long been a remnant of the pre-democratic dispensation. The senior positions were predominantly held by white males and the emerging academics were also mostly white males due to the academic progress white males were able to make during the apartheid years and earlier. This however was not only an academic phenomenon, but for all senior positions within the higher education domain. The legacy has seen slow change over the years and the following writing will attempt to look at these issues as well as other relevant staffing data.

Overall Staff

All the race groups are currently represented within the profile of the South African higher education staffing. We can see that there are more Africans in the system in 2011 for the overall staff. It is also clear that there is a great deal more temporary staff than permanent staff. This has been an increasing sight over the last couple of years. Less staff is being appointed on permanent basis. The total temporary staff is almost double that of permanent staff.

Figure 1 Overall Staff Employment Status by Race 2011

 Source: HEMIS 2011

The gender profile has changed over the years and in recent year the data shows more women are employed in higher education than men on both permanent and temporary basis. However, the graph below makes no inference on the level of employment. The proportion of temporary to permanent staff shows no gender bias, since it is basically the same ratio for men and for women.

Figure 2 Overall Staff Employment for 2011

Source: HEMIS 2011

The graph below shows that more staff is employed as non-professional staff followed by the Instructional Research professionals however, this looks different when we only look at permanently employed staff. In that case the academic staff holds the highest numbers. If we consider only the temporary staff the non-professional administrative staff hold the highest numbers although not far more than the temporary academic staff.

Figure 3 Overall Staff Employment Status by Personnel Category for 2011

Source: HEMIS 2011

Executive Staff

The graph below shows Africans and Indians at executive level has a higher percentage permanent employment than Coloureds and Whites. This however does not reflect the same given the actual numbers of executive staff members employed on a permanent basis. The number of permanently employed White executive staff members exceed that of all the other race groups together by a headcount of 243. That is almost 55% of the total permanent executive staff in the system.

Figure 4 Executive Staff by Employment Staff by Race for 2011

Source: HEMIS 2011

In looking at the graph below, we see the following; the percentage of permanent to temporary men and women employed at executive level is almost the same. About 75% of the men are permanent and just over 72% of the women are permanently employed at executive level. Again as with the racial groups, the headcount of men far exceed the headcount of women at this level.

Figure 5 Executive Staff Employment Status by Gender for 2011

Source: HEMIS 2011

Academic Staff

Academic staff becomes a great focus area when it comes to teaching and learning practices and student output. They also impact on research outputs and other academic development programmes. In this section we look at some demographics of the academic staff in the South African public higher education sector. This does not mean that some of these academics do not also moonlight for private higher education providers.

In the graph below, we look at the racial demographics of the sector. It is very clear that there are almost double as many White academics and there are African academics. There seem to be no disparity in their employment statuses though, since proportionally all the race groups have more or less the same ratio (1:2) of permanent to temporary staff.

Figure 6 Academic Staff Employment Status by Race for 2011

Source: HEMIS 2011

From the graph below it is visible, although not by much, that proportionally more women employed as temporary academics than men. However when we isolate the permanent academic staff, 55% are men, while the differences for the temporarily employed academics are much less.

Figure 7 Academic Staff Employment Status by Gender for 2011

Source: HEMIS 2011

It is interesting to see the differences in the employment status of academics considering their age grouping. The highest number of academics is under 30 years old. These under 30 year olds are mostly employed on temporary basis, from where the permanent employment numbers increase, but drop again for those over 60 years old. None of the age groups represented show more than 50% permanent employment.

Figure 8 Academic Staff Employment Status by Age Group for 2011

Source: HEMIS 2011

As can be seen in the graph below, most academic profiles show their qualifications as other. This group also has the highest percentage of temporary staff. The group with the lowest percentage of temporary staff also has the lowest number of staff. This is the group with the professional three year degrees, however most academics have Masters and Doctoral qualifications.

Figure 9 Academic Staff Employment Status by Qualification Type for 2011

Source: HEMIS 2011

The graph below shows the qualifications academics hold disaggregated by their racial groups. Many more Whites hold postgraduate qualifications, especially Masters and Doctoral qualifications. One would in turn expect many more Whites being employed at higher levels.

Figure 10 Academic Staff Race Profile by Qualification Type for 2011
Source: HEMIS 2011

The qualifications of men and women does not show much differences through the qualification types with the exception of Doctoral qualifications where more than 60% of men hold Doctoral qualifications.

Figure 11 Academic Staff Gender Profile by Qualification Type for 2011
Source: HEMIS 2011

The following graph shows the ranking of academics by race grouping. The legacy of apartheid still shows in that most of professors, associate professors and senior lecturers are White. These figures are so pronounced that even the sum of the other race groups are far less than the total Whites in these positions. The other race groups are substantially represented at lecturer and junior lecturer positions, although still less than their White counterparts. This will undoubtedly influence the next generation of academics at more senior levels.

Figure 12 Academic Staff Race Profile by Ranking for 2011
Source: HEMIS 2011

As can be seen from the graph below, women only employed equally to men below the level of senior lecturer. The higher ranking academics hold a large male majority. The ratio of male professors to female professors is 3 to 1.

Figure 13 Academic Staff Gender Profile by Ranking for 2011
Source: HEMIS 2011

Overall the ratio of men to women in academia is one to one. It is at the senior lecturer level where the inequalities start and widen. This trend strongly correlates to the qualification levels of academic staff, where a great deal more men hold Masters and Doctoral qualifications.

Student to Staff Ratio

Table 1 Student to Staff Ratio by CESM category for 2011

Source: HEMIS 2011

The table above reflects the FTE data for students and academic staff. The ratio of student per FTE academic staff member overall is 27, while the figures become much more interesting when taken by brought field of study. It would be interesting to compare this data with the success rates.


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