Cape Town - Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande says he wants to establish a ministerial task team to probe the reasons for a perceived lack of black South Africans graduating with doctorates.
"That's one thing that breaks my heart often when I go to graduation ceremonies," he told a joint higher education committee meeting in Parliament on Wednesday.
"It is good that our post-graduate programmes are attracting many people from around the world, and on the African continent.
"But in terms of the numbers, they are still very skewed [in terms of] black South Africans."
It was not unusual to find that only 10% of PhD graduates were black South Africans at many graduation ceremonies, he said.
He said he has heard many anecdotal reasons why this could be the case - the first being that most black South African graduates are poor, and opt to rather find a job after attaining their first degree.
Others have told him there were deeper issues of "gate keeping", he said.
He cited one example of one student who told him her PhD proposal had been rejected four times.
He said he hoped a ministerial committee will get down to the bottom of the problem, to move beyond anecdotal evidence.
His department would later on Wednesday make a presentation to the joint committee on its annual performance, strategic and budget plans ahead of Parliament's budget votes later this month.