South Africa

South Africa’s richest universities revealed

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.

UniversityGeneral fund poolEndowment fund
University of PretoriaR14,805,110,000R7,421,163,000
Stellenbosch UniversityR8,622,039,000R5,041,962,000
University of Cape TownR8,540,068,000R5,337,771,000
University of the Free StateR7,512,101,000R132,327,000
North-West UniversityR7,049,704,000 
University of Kwazulu-NatalR6,546,004,000R582,863,000
University of WitwatersrandR5,750,229,000R3,607,850,000
Durban University of TechnologyR3,745,617,609 
University of LimpopoR2,682,960,000 
Rhodes UniversityR815,128,000R815,072,000
University of Western CapeR590,125,232R6,122,685


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