Richest universities in South Africa

The University of Pretoria tops the list of South African institutions with the largest funds, followed by the University of South Africa and Stellenbosch University.

Most universities have endowment funds which comprise money or other financial assets from charitable donations.

These endowments — typically from former students — support research, teaching, and other academic and sporting endeavours.

These funds are usually managed to protect the capital portion of its donations and often only make contributions from the interest or dividends received by investing the funds.

Most endowment funds are, therefore, mandated to be managed indefinitely, only relying on their income generation capacity to make distributions and protecting its principle.

Daily Investor looked at the endowments of South African universities to determine which has the largest funds.

Many universities do not report the exact size of their endowment funds and only report a broader fund pool.

Universities under consideration were compared based on two measures: Their endowment fund and the size of a more general fund pool (which includes the endowment portion).

The general fund pool includes the restricted and unrestricted funds under the university’s disposal, excluding any loans and funds allocated to property, plant, and equipment expansion.

The University of Pretoria has the largest pool of funds at R14.81 billion. It also boasts the largest endowment at R7.42 billion.

Other universities with significant funds include the University of South Africa with R12.7 billion, Stellenbosch University with R8.6 billion, and the University of Cape Town with R8.5 billion.

Although it may seem like a lot, these funds are small compared to the endowments of top universities in the United States.

Harvard University’s endowment fund has assets under management of $49 billion (R941 billion), and Yale University has a fund of $41 billion (R787 billion).

Richest South African universities by fund size

The table below shows the South African universities with the largest general fund pools and endowments.

University General fund pool Endowment fund
University of Pretoria R14,805,110,000 R7,421,163,000
UNISA R12,742,754,000
Stellenbosch University R8,622,039,000 R5,041,962,000
University of Cape Town R8,540,068,000 R5,337,771,000
University of the Free State R7,512,101,000 R132,327,000
North-West University R7,049,704,000
University of Kwazulu-Natal R6,546,004,000 R582,863,000
University of Witwatersrand R5,750,229,000 R3,607,850,000
Durban University of Technology R3,745,617,609
University of Limpopo R2,682,960,000
Rhodes University R815,128,000 R815,072,000
University of Western Cape R590,125,232 R6,122,685

This article was first published by Daily Investor and is republished with permission.

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Richest universities in South Africa