Higher Education Price Index (HEPI)
During 2014, Universities South Africa developed higher education price index for public higher education, in order to provide a solid basis for advocacy for increased funding for universities so that current levels of service provision can be maintained and the sector can be expanded as anticipated in the National Development Plan.
Based on expenditure data provided by 18 public higher education institutions, the 2013 higher education price index was found to be 7.5%, substantially higher than the consumer price index of 5.7% in the same year.
Study on Remuneration of Academic Staff
Findings of this study, which was commissioned by Universities South Africa’s Funding Strategy Group in 2012, were finally released in December 2014. The study aimed to compare the guaranteed remuneration packages of permanent full time academic staff across universities, with their counterparts in the public and private sector respectively.
Based on the comparison of guaranteed packages, it emerged from these findings that the academic profession, in general, pays relatively well against both public and private sectors, particularly at the more senior job levels. However, comparisons on other variables presented conflicting findings (details are in the full report).
In conclusion, the remuneration study showed that academic jobs paid less than comparable public sector jobs, and that an academic career was probably perceived to be less well remunerated, overall. While this perception places a challenge in the academic sector, of attracting young graduates into a career in academia, the remuneration study findings showed that universities can counter the perception by communicating both the broader benefits and value of an academic career, and the fact that over the long term, remuneration packages at senior levels are very competitive at least with the public sector, and even with guaranteed packages in the private sector.
For Universities South Africa, an organisation that uses empirical evidence to argue its policy standpoints, these findings provide useful discussion points on the development of strategies to build and sustain a future generation of academics – with a focus on increasing representation of women and people of colour.