University bosses still rake in millions

2012-01-22 18:30

Johannesburg - 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 R3.4m a year.

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

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

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

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

Even President Jacob Zuma (R2.5m) and his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe (R2.2 m), 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 R2.2m - about R1.2m 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.

Top universities

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 R2.2m, while Professor Russel Botman of Stellenbosch University is paid R2.4m.

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 R2.7m 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 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.

  • Squeegee - 2012-01-22 18:54

    And we were supposed to be impressed when UJ offered to pay the tuition of the student who's mom was killed in the stampede.. Peanuts to them.

      Jou - 2012-01-22 19:10

      ...and still no word on the broodkop's driver that knocked down the young kid and left him brain damaged.

      Eina - 2012-01-23 07:10

      I work at UJ and believe me earn about 12% of the vice chancellors salary as an academic!!! Talk about payment gap .....

  • Robin - 2012-01-22 18:59

    Disgraceful - but par for the course under our corrupt government. BTW, News24 reporters, there is a HUGE difference between 'earning' and 'getting'. Do any of our top salaried people actually EARN even close to what they are worth?

      witsliberator - 2012-01-22 19:13

      As I stated above Presidents (Vice Chancellors) at most of the worlds best universities earn 10 times more than ours. The job is very demanding. Its the same as being CEO of a Major company. The only problem is that they arent trained to be CEO's of those companies.

      Johan - 2012-01-22 20:10


      Peter - 2012-01-22 20:52

      Robin, your point is a point I am also trying to make. Glad someone agrees with me - a bit anyway.

      Garth - 2012-01-23 07:29

      Fair point Robin. Maybe if the university is in the top 300 in the world, that exorbitant salary is being earned, maybe. I for one, do not think that any institution aimed at the education of our nations youth, should be a `cash cow' for the unscrupulous. What are you going to do about it Selamolela? Nothing, as usual, because you are an anc ignorant.

      Sharp - 2012-01-23 13:31

      In basic economics, typically one should earn their efficiency wage i.e. one should get paid the value that one produces. In the real world this quite unlikely as workers do a lot more producing than what they get paid for and CEO's get paid a lot more than they produce. Efforts should be made to get salaries as close to efficiency wages as possible. As for Vice-Chancellors, I doubt their efficiency wage is higher than R1.2m per year. Other academics also do demanding work but get paid less. I think that earning R100,000 per month is more than enough to live off! So cap it at R1.2m a year and convert the excess into bursaries.

  • Ian - 2012-01-22 19:00

    the african way strikes again

      Ian - 2012-01-22 19:17

      most certainly not those sort of corrupt salaries, my aunt is a lecturer at university of miami so i know this for a fact

      Peter - 2012-01-22 20:55

      No Ian, not the African way, worldwide they earn 10x more. Not that it makes it right, its just as evil in other countries. People earn way more than they are worth. A bit more fairness would make the world a much better place.

  • ubhejane - 2012-01-22 19:05

    Shocking! The entitlement has drowned us. Universities can't survive without the state subsidy. Why doesn't government lay down some rules for Universities and parastatals??????? Now I'm not even talking about the Mayor of a small bankrupt municipality in the middle of the Free State earning more than the President!!!!!!!

      weareu - 2012-01-22 21:20

      AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAhhahahahaa ROFLMAO! Good spirit though "I am going to be the President of this country one day". The issue was never the luxury cars. The issue is that they drive them, while promising jobs and houses, and they keep failing in producing anything. You will have the same issue though. No matter what you do. You see government is cancer and has many many people involved. Governments grow until they consume its people. Its like a parasite. It gives you just enough to keep you alive and suck everything out for as long as possible. If you want to be the parasite, you will follow the same path. No matter what your philosophy is. Because the idea of government, of "ruling" people, is a terrible one.

      TamaraSays - 2012-01-23 00:34

      Salaries for university employees should be performance based. The better the students do, the better the earnings. Same goes for parastatals. Their earnings should be goals oriented. If they fail to meet their goals, they should earn a fraction of what they COULD earn. This is why capitalism works, when applied properly. If you dangle the carrot, the asses move properly.

      TamaraSays - 2012-01-23 00:36

      And when we compare it to Zuma's salary, don't forget to take the allowances for his horde of wives and children into account. His take home salary may be less, but I bet if you add it all up, he's sitting pretty too.

      Nkulekweni - 2012-01-23 09:23

      Agreed Tamara I went to UCT and I am proud of that fact because it has earned a place in the top 100 world universities. Does the VC therefore deserve the 2.2 mill. Debatable...but if pay is performance based he certainly deserves to get more than those getting 3.7 mill for headig universities that have far less performance ratings. Now the pertinent question is ..what has that man Blade been doing all year other than appearing on TV and radio now and then? I want... I want.. I want.. to be famous.....

      Hugo - 2012-02-02 23:22

      @ ubhejane, gov does lay rules for universities i.e race qoutas etc

      Hugo - 2012-02-02 23:24

      Nkulukweni, what exactly is Blade supposed to do?arent South African unis autonomous?

  • Anneleen - 2012-01-22 19:06

    ...Government not capping the is not a feather in their cap at all.

      weareu - 2012-01-22 21:24

      If government was allowed to cap the pay of universities, the policy would be exploited at some point to appoint sub-par unwanted heads. And will ultimately be destructive. If people are not performing then performance measurement should be introduced by private governing bodies and councils that are in the control of the people.

  • goyougoodthing - 2012-01-22 19:06

    Interesting how the 2 big payouts go to UKZN and Mangosuthu University of Technology , the crappest institutions in the land.

      mmatau - 2012-01-23 12:03

      Good one @goyougoodthing. I can't really say i'm surprised given the crap service the government provides its people. They're even promoting it by large compensation for crap!!!

  • Saksak Motsepe - 2012-01-22 19:17

  • Bennie - 2012-01-22 19:18

    BEEing a BEE Proffesor is very Lucrative !!

      Hugo - 2012-02-02 23:25

      I guess it is(Dr Price et al)

  • J.D. - 2012-01-22 19:22

    biggest part oh tsese salaries must be in tghe "danger pay" category if I look at the rioting stone throwing mobs in action. It is mostly not institutions but rather evil breeding institutions.

  • Mohammed - 2012-01-22 19:25

    Why is this even an issue? These people are academically qualified and run huge organisations that are often fraught with political and social minefields which they have to navigate. Why should they not be paid high salaries. If you want to earn their salaries, raise yourself to their level. Damn media, always looking to take a dump on something!

      goyougoodthing - 2012-01-22 19:37

      Have you seen the state of UKZN?

      Piet - 2012-01-22 20:28

      Nope not a dump, just pointing out how the cadres are raping every sector of this country!

      Peter - 2012-01-22 21:01

      The problem is who gets paid more than who. It seems those with better morals and bigger responsibilities get paid less. Anyway, do they really need so much money - and that includes CEO's of most companies, they are all grotesquely overpaid. Thats why we pay so much for everything, we are ripped off by greedy people. But you seem to condone greed, Mohammed?

      weareu - 2012-01-22 21:15

      Totally agree with you man. And to everyone that disagrees. You are not commenting on the issue raised in the article. If the article was about the state of the Universities then you guys were on the right track. If its about what the top guys are earning then you argumentatively went down the wrong one.

      weareu - 2012-01-22 21:27

      @Peter, Mohammed doesn't condone greed. How the hell did you get to that. Its not like these guys determine their own salaries. Same with CEOs. Its the board that decides. Its also not about what they need to survive. Its about keeping skills in this country and being competitive relating to the rest of the world and being world class is what SA needs. Not being socialist orientated Africa.

      Garth - 2012-01-23 07:40

      The problem, Mohammed and weareu, is that the institutions that these so-called `academically qualified people' govern, are under performing `companies'. Only in a deeply corrupt society do under performing CEOs earn salaries beyond the means of the company. Raise the fees of the students. Raise the government grants. Milk the supporting businesses. All in the interests of the students? Think about it, before you complain about an institution complaining about corruption - or you may be seen to be supporting that evil.

      Gail - 2012-01-23 16:52

      @Peter. Mohammed is not condoning greed by suggesting that these people in the tertiary institutions deserve those salaries. These people are educated and educators and far more deserving of these rewards than our State President is of his. Education is the only way to uplift the people and as it is other CEO's in commerce earn way more than this in many cases. It's a question of skills, experience, performance being earned and benefitting the future of our country.

  • Aaron - 2012-01-22 20:24

    UKZN vice chancellor is highest paid yet its the worst run university.

      Liyanda Handula - 2012-01-22 20:44

      These are very high salaries. I should be an academic also.

      Schmee - 2012-01-23 08:36

      Been to three universities in my lifetime. UKZN was better run than Wits and Stellenbosch.

  • weareu - 2012-01-22 21:12

    This article is so badly written I felt car-sick slogging through it. Also its purpose is what exactly? If these guys got by their salaries in unlawful ways then please post that. This article is warmongering propaganda. Also please explain why the amount of students matter what people get paid. And what this has to do with Zuma? Universities should pay whatever it takes to get the best minds. And the writer of this article should go back there.

  • SeeVeeDeeEl - 2012-01-22 21:32

    Predictably most of them are AA appointments/struggle buddies/comrades/useless appointees.

  • Makatikamusona - 2012-01-22 21:41

    What for, will the university fall apart if the are not there? Chancellor also want a piece of the cake,Gerald Majola got his piece,Eskom bosses got their piece as well

  • Leendert - 2012-01-22 22:37

    Despite the alleged lack of educational opportunities for blacks during the apartheid era, it hasn't taken them long to make their way to the top and earn ridiculous salaries...

      Sithando - 2012-01-22 23:50

      That is how gifted we are, pink!

      kthage - 2012-01-23 00:17

      @Leendert. Let me get this straight, your disregarding their credentials while your highest qualification is a Matric certificate? It appears that you don't know your history, blacks were excluded from certain academic fields during apartheid. Blacks could become lawayers, nurses, teachers etc. but they could not be Geologists, Metallurgists etc. Thank God for Freedom, I was able to get my Geology degree, and now I'm working for a giant multi-national corporation. By the way, I am young and already earning a ridiculous salary, am not a BEE/AA employee either

  • Tokelo MediaOwner Fako - 2012-01-22 22:55

    Bloody Agents!(Malema's voice)..

  • Cracker - 2012-01-22 23:25

    They must just carry on. As they no doubt will. What more can one say?

  • Napo Moloi - 2012-01-22 23:33

    Makgoba has a PhD from oxford..

  • Bra - 2012-01-22 23:56

    wht about the salary of proff mokgalong of university of limpopo? those pple they deserve those salaries referring to university counselors because if they are underpaid they will leave n go to greener pasture.

  • reynard.j.debeer - 2012-01-23 03:24

    Hmmm Im thinking new career choice!

  • ian.rundle1 - 2012-01-23 06:20

    Funny how the more sucessful Universities have rectors that earn substantially less than the unsucessful ones. Why this discrepancy?

      seymore.butt - 2012-01-23 06:34

      Its because the successful universities have academic staff that actually knows how to do their jobs. Chancellors don't make a university. In fact most universities are full of non-essential administrators at the expense of core people who actually run the university.

  • The-Azanian - 2012-01-23 07:07

    viva university of pretoria, cheryl show em how its done...

  • mike.clery - 2012-01-23 07:47

    These huge salaries are being paid by taxpayers - that's where university funds come from.

  • Matthew - 2012-01-23 07:59

    Prof Rensburg deserves his salary, highly educated individual! UJ is probably the best run university in Johannesburg.

      Mark - 2012-01-23 09:24

      You are probably correct. VCs like Max Price and Jonathan Jansen deserve a lot more.

  • SarelJBotha - 2012-01-23 08:03

    "According to Selamolela, the value added by university bosses is not equivalent to the exorbitant salaries they are paid." This is the crux of the matter and this is what should be looked at.

  • Warwick - 2012-01-23 08:14

    What about the slary and perks of useless and underperforming mayors and city managers.

      Nadine - 2012-01-23 10:02

      Cant compare with them - these are highly educated people with 3-4 degrees..

  • TenRas1 - 2012-01-23 08:26

    For Godsake this guys are well educated unlike Blade and Zuma...Most professionals come from this universities. They Deserve it

  • TenRas1 - 2012-01-23 08:35

    Makgoba is highly educated than most of this Vice he must get more than them.

      Mark - 2012-01-23 09:20

      He was also caught out for lying on his CV while at Wits!

      Nkulekweni - 2012-01-23 12:27

      Yes Makgoba is very well educated..but what should be of concern is whether or not he is achieving the desired results. If not he should write books...

  • sphiwe.luthuli - 2012-01-23 09:12

    ]Someone pass me a bucket I need to throw up #Disgusted!

  • Nadine - 2012-01-23 10:01

    Dont you think some of them deserve the salary? They've studies, got 3-4 degrees - will you settle for less pay with those credentials?

  • Otherc - 2012-01-23 10:51

    And this is the guy who's getting all that money for doing ????: "an article [5] by Professor Makgoba which compared middle-aged white academics to apes". The same academics who essentially keep UKZN alive by generating his precious research output while he steals his fat salary from the poor. Oh, by the way, did you know that he recently implied that he may be worthy of receiving a Noble Prize! Go boy! I'm not sure whether there's a Noble Prize for "Most overpaid affirmative appointment in SA"

  • Gail - 2012-01-23 13:04

    Let's keep this in perspective here. Educators are the most important professionals in the country and they are not the most highly paid. The fact that Vice Chancellors earn more than a state president firstly overlooks the perks which a state president in our country currently claims as a right even when their level of education is below Matric.i.e. less than 12 years. A specilaised doctor of medicine earns and claims the perks he does because he has studied for longer than 10 years. As a result of which he is in his thirties before he can start paying off his study debt - conservatively ZR1 million. He has to build a practice as well as pay overheads for staff and equipment etc which effectively gives him far fewer years than let us say a State President with no Matric. Both the doctor and the teacher are professionals who pay taxes like everyone else and I mean everyone else right down to the poorest of the poor on grants who contribute through VAT of 14c in the Rand which is imposed on anything processed aswell as through transport costs etc. So nwo the civil SERVANTS who waste more money through greed corruption and incompetence due to LACK of EDUCATION think they are being done down. If the YL wants to raise the anti nthen they should be ensuring that their parent body be appointed on merit, education spend NOT shadow planes to US for someone whose loss would be mourned only by the stupid in his electorate. 600 schools could have been built for those illiterates!

  • pages:
  • 1