According to Alan Cliff, an associate professor at the University of Cape Town, the sad reality of higher education in South Africa is that only about one third of the students who qualify to gain entry into higher education are actually prepared for the academic literacy demands of a university.
The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation says more is needed to be done to counter racism in South Africa.
In a press statement, following the publication of photographs of two white students from the University of Pretoria (UP) in domestic worker outfits and their faces smeared with brown paint, the organisation said it noted with concern the insensitive and racially stereotypical attitude displayed by the two students."
Over 500 racism-related cases have been reported to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in the past year.
SAHRC chairperson of the hearings into transformation at universities in South Africa, Lawrence Mushwana, notes that the complaints were not only in universities, adding that, “In the 2013/2014 financial year, 45 percent of the SAHRC's complaints were race-related and dealt with the right to equality.”
After the stop-start disrupted registration of first year students, universities are bracing themselves for heightened protests when students arrive at campuses on Monday, 18 January 2016.
At the North West University in Mahikeng, some student applications have been rejected due to limited financial aid.
The university's financial director, Ettienne Mostert, says 1 656 students that qualify cannot be covered at the moment with the current allocation.
Former President, Thabo Mbeki, says universities need more investment to significantly improve their capacity to deliver the skilled people necessary for the development of African countries.
Mbeki called on universities to convince the so-called political class in Africa that tertiary education institutions are central to the African development agenda.
The South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) says a big cut in the United States funding for South Africa's HIV-AIDS programmes could lead to an increase in infections at universities and colleges.
Briefing the parliamentary portfolio committee on HIV-AIDS, SANAC chief executive officer, Fareed Abdullah, said that funding from the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief will be reduced from US$549 million (over R5 billion) in 2011 to US$270 million in 2017.
The Higher Education Transformation Network (HETN) is raising suspicions that Thabang Makhoang, a student who drowned at the North West University, was forced to swim and now demands that the institution immediately publicise results of its completed private investigation.
The HETN, an organisation representing a number of alumni from all the country's universities, insists that the university must treat all matters related to Makhoang's death with urgency.
The shortage of doctors is ham-stringing the health services but medical schools are turning away thousands of aspirant medical practitioners each year.
Ranked among the top 500 universities in the world, the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine rejected 5 290 applications this year because it could accommodate only 210 first-year students.
The universities of – the Witwatersrand, Medical University of South Africa, Stellenbosch, Cape Town, Pretoria, Walter Sisulu and the Free State - have turned down thousands of applications.
The Council on Higher Education (CHE) has welcomed government plans to establish a central applications system to facilitate the admissions process in higher education institutions.
CHE board CEO, Ahmed Essop, points out that the council recognise higher education institutions' concerns about the potential erosion of institutional autonomy if the programme is not properly managed, and the practical complexities of establishing a central applications system.
Durban University of Technology says the centralised application system introduced in 1999 has ‘been phenomenal’ in helping KwaZulu-Natal universities manage late applications.
Durban University of Technology’s senior director of corporate affairs, Alan Khan, points out that in that province, prospective students apply to the Central Applications Office.
He states that the university then accept a certain number of students, who are invited to register in January.