The level of state funding for higher education is not aligned with the global average, according to the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).
Funding for higher education is 12% of the education budget all together, fairly low compared to the world average of 19%.
Dr Diane Parker, the DHET's deputy director-general for universities, said the focus on university funding is takes into account the complexity of basic education.
Listen to the full conversation, with Koketso Sachane standing in, on CapeTalk's Breakfast with Kieno Kammies:
Parker said South African government had decided that funding for basic education is a more urgent priority than university funding.
If we shift the balance from the funding of basic education, that is going to have other consequences. We need to understand the funding of higher education within that broader context.— Dr. Diane Parker, DHET's Deputy Director-General for Universities
Some universities which announced annual fee hikes for 2015 have seen a chain of protest by students.
DHET Minister Blade Nzimande has urged all university councils and managements to exercise “greater caution and sensitivity” when determining fee increases.