University bosses still rake in millions

2012-01-21 18:49

The heads of the country’s public universities continue to rake in millions of rands in salaries despite government’s promise to cap their pay.

Professor Malegapuru Makgoba of the University of KwaZulu-Natal is the highest-paid serving vice-chancellor in the country, with a salary of more than R3.4 million a year.

Until his retirement in December 2010, the University of South Africa’s former boss, Professor Barney Pityana, was the highest paid at R3.7 million.

Controversial former Mangosuthu University of Technology vice-chancellor Aaron Ndlovu was previously the highest paid – at R3.68 million six years ago.

The University of Johannesburg’s Professor Ihron Rensburg’s salary of R3.3 million is not far behind.

Makgoba and Rensburg earn more than their boss, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, who earns R1.9 million a year.

Even President Jacob Zuma (R2.5 million) and his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe (R2.2 million), are paid less than many vice-chancellors.

Though the University of Pretoria has more students than the University of KwaZulu-Natal, its vice-chancellor, Professor Cheryl de la Rey, earns R2.2 million, about R1.2 million less than Makgoba.

Unisa is the country’s biggest university, with about 300 000 students.

The University of Pretoria has more than 57 000 students while the University of KwaZulu-Natal has about 42 000.

Rensburg’s institution has about 50 000 students.

Only Cape Town (ranked 103), Stellenbosch and Wits feature in the 2011/12 Times Higher Education’s list of the world’s top universities. Stellenbosch and Wits are in the top 300.

In another list, the 2011 QS Top 500 Universities, the University of Cape Town (UCT) is at 156 while Stellenbosch makes it into the world’s leading 450 universities.

However, UCT’s Dr Max Price and Professor Loyiso Nongxa of Wits both earn R2.2 million, while Professor Russel Botman of Stellenbosch University is paid R2.4 million.

UCT has about 25?000 students, Wits has 30 000 while Stellenbosch has about 28 000.

Nongxa also set up the Mosa Limakatso Nongxa Memorial Scholarship Fund, now worth about R150 000, which he personally funds.

A R30 000 scholarship, named after Nongxa’s daughter who died at eight, is awarded to Wits mathematical sciences students from modest backgrounds.

Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel said Nongxa started the R2.7 million Vice-Chancellor’s Bursary Fund in 2007. It is funded by Wits staff,
including Nongxa.

In April 2010, Higher Education Minister Nzimande promised to establish guidelines for each university council to follow in setting executive remuneration.

“The salary gap between managers and academics (as well as between the vice-chancellors and the lowest-paid workers) has grown enormously over the past 15 years,” Nzimande said at the time.

He said there was no consistency in the criteria used to determine executive salaries among institutions.

Muzi Khumalo, Nzimande’s spokesperson, did not respond this week to City Press’ questions on progress made on the guidelines.

SA Students Congress president Ngoako Selamolela said the salaries could be used to improve student services and open the doors of learning for poor students.

“High salaries for vice-chancellors are not justified. Capping the salaries of managerial staff in universities might be a better option.”

According to Selamolela, the value added by university bosses is not equivalent to the exorbitant salaries they are paid.

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