Welcome to the sixth issue of VitalStats: Public Higher Education, a series that was launched in 2012 with
VitalStats 2010. The series provides recent, audited data on the higher education sector for research and
monitoring purposes in an easy to use format. VitalStats 2015 contains data for the period 2010 to 2015, which
is the latest audited data available for the sector. The Council on Higher Education (CHE) hopes to extend the
publication to the private sector when the necessary audited data are available. The CHE has found that the
series continues to be used extensively by researchers and other interested stakeholders in the sector.
The majority of the data used is 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 the 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
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 2010, 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 for additional graphs to be included in future issues, or requests for additional copies of the
publication. Please direct these to Lumka Mayepu at firstname.lastname@example.org. The publication can also be
downloaded from the CHE’s website (www.che.ac.za).