The potential financial impact and influence of black economic empowerment (BEE) on private higher education institutions in South Africa: management alert

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Education is considered an important pillar of economic development and a vital factor for nation building in post-1994 South Africa. Higher education (HE) is offered by government-subsidized universities and colleges, while there has been an increase in the number of private higher education institutions (PHEIs), which offer more expensive, unsubsidized tertiary education. While all state bodies and public entities are required to apply the provisions of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Act, this is not (yet) seemingly a requirement for PHEIs. This study used an adapted version of the “5 Star” research methodology to explore the potential financial impact and influence of the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) black economic empowerment (BEE) policy on PHEIs. The research shows that the BEE policy has the potential to financially impact and influence most of the components of the total quality service (TQS) framework for PHEIs in terms of preferential procurement from suppliers, company ownership, appointment of executive, middle and junior managers, employment of academic and administrative staff, and throughput of black student graduates. Management at PHEIs should be alerted to the fact that it is probably not merely a matter of IF, but rather WHEN the policy will start impacting on the financial stability and viability of PHEIs as BEE compliance becomes mandatory.

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    • Figure 1. The TQS framework with superimposed BEE scorecard elements
    • Table 1. Number of available first-year enrollments and number of applications received at five selected HE institutions in 2015
    • Table 2. Number of students enrolled in PHEIs by gender from 2010 to 2015
    • Table 3. The number of students enrolled in PHEIs by South African population group and nationality from 2010 to 2015
    • Table 4. TQS framework process component with BEE scorecard elements