Pretoria – South African students are still having a tough time despite an income increase at higher education institutions, Tshwane University of Technology’s (TUT) vice-chancellor has said.In a telephonic interview with News24, Professor Lourens van Staden said the majority of students at universities came from poor families.“It is almost unethical to approach your students for a double digit increase. Even 8% is not acceptable. Then you will find that you are getting poorer year by year,” he said.Van Staden was speaking after the release of financial statistics by the Statistician-General of South Africa, Pali Lehohla on Tuesday afternoon. Turn pyramid aroundHe said that, 95% of students at TUT were from poor families. About 45% of the students depended on NSFAS and 50% were part of the so called missing middle. "Varsity education is far more expensive than college education. We need to turn this pyramid around," he said.According to Stats SA's financial statistics of higher education institutions, the country’s education institutions had an income increase of more than R6.4 bn in the 2016 financial year to R67.4bn.GrantsStats SA also revealed that cash receipts from 'other receipts' increased by R1.4bn to R37.3bn in 2016. This was due to increases in sales of goods and services by the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch.This was followed by grants from the Department of Higher Education and Training to the University of the Western Cape, Unisa and the University of Mpumalanga.The grants amounted to R30bn, up from R25bn reported in 2015. READ: UCT students will respond 'decisively' to proposed fee increaseThe stats also showed that the largest contributor to cash payments was compensation of employees, which was R33.7bn. This was up by 8.5% reported in 2015.Cash payments for goods and services increased by R2.6bn to R21.6bn in 2016. Total cash payments for operating activities increased by R5.4bn to R59bn. Speaking outside of the briefing, Pali said the number of students who the education system produced from primary level should not be the same at universities."It must be much fewer students at university. If they were processing this well these students would have passed," he said. "The rate of production is the one declining for blacks."Same levelPali said students were failing and the system was "constipated by people who shouldn't be there."During apartheid years these students [blacks] were performing at the same level as their white counterparts."But now the graph is declining. It means there is something wrong with the system," Pali said.