The number of African students registered at South African universities has trebled in the past ten years - and for the first time last year more students were black than any other race group - according to the just released Race Relations Survey 1994/95.
The growing representation of African people, who comprise three-quarters of South Africa's population, was even more dramatic in technikons, where the number of African students increased by nearly 4,000 per cent in ten years. All in all, student numbers in universities rose by 70 per cent from 1985 to 1994, and by 184 per cent in technikons.
The comprehensive Race Relations Survey, published annually by the South African Institute of Race Relations in Johannesburg, enabled the construction of a "league table" of 20 universities in terms of enrolments by race.
Among the country's 12 residential universities which are not historically black, the formerly Indian University of Durban-Westville has made the greatest strides in enrolling Africans. The student body is 48 per cent African, followed closely by the formerly coloured University of the Western Cape, where 47 per cent of students are African.
In both, 47 per cent of students are of the race group the university historically served: Indian and coloured respectively, and there are very few white students.
Among the historically white universities, Rand Afrikaans University - most unexpectedly - now has the largest proportion of African students, followed in order by the Universities of Natal, the Wi****ersrand, Rhodes and Cape Town.
The University of Stellenbosch has the lowest proportion of African students - only 2 per cent - and the highest proportion of white students - 90 per cent - while at Pretoria 9 per cent of students are African and at the Free State 10 per cent.
The picture changes when other race groups and provincial racial proportions are considered. The University of Natal, for example, has the highest proportion of non-white students of all the historically white universities: 54 per cent black - broken down into 26 per cent African, 25 per cent Indian and 3 per cent coloured - and 46 per cent white.
The University of Cape Town, in the Western Cape where most of South Africa's coloured people live, has a student breakdown which is 21 per cent African, 13 per cent coloured, five per cent Indian and 61 per cent white. At the distance learning University of South Africa (UNISA), which has more than 126,000 students, 46 per cent are African, 42 per cent white, 8 per cent Indian and 2 per cent coloured.
It appears that the increased intake of African students has not been at the expense of students of other races but has been achieved by overall expansion of the system. From 1985 to 1994 the number of white students increased by 7 per cent, coloured students by 41 per cent, Indians by 43 per cent and Africans by 293 per cent.
So while in 1985, 66 per cent of university students were white and only 20 per cent were African, in 1994, 47 per cent of students were African, 41 per cent were white, 7 per cent were Indian and 6 per cent were coloured.
Since whites comprise 15 per cent of South Africa's people, white students are still over-represented by nearly three times their population proportion, followed closely by Indians, who make up 2.5 per cent of the population and 7 per cent of all students.
Coloured people are slightly under-represented - their population proportion is 7.5 per cent - while the proportion of African students would have to increase by 28 per cent to reach their 75 per cent proportion of the population.
In technikons, which have expanded dramatically, the number of African students increased by 3,962 per cent, the number of coloured students by 394 per cent, Indians by 142 per cent and whites by 57 per cent. Thus while in 1985 almost all technikon students were white - 86 per cent - in 1994, 48 per cent were white and 39 per cent were African.
The survey also shows that the number of people taking the school leaving matriculation examination nearly doubled between 1984 and 1993: from around 168,000 to nearly half a million.
The number who passed increased by 113 per cent, although the proportion who passed decreased from 68 per cent to 49 per cent. Poor results were blamed on grossly inadequate resources in African schools, poor teaching and the disruption of schooling during the struggle against apartheid.
Racial breakdowns at historically white, Indian and coloured universities:1994
University, African, Coloured, Indian, White, Total
Durban-Westville, 48, 2, 47, 3, 10, 505
Western Cape, 47, 47, 5, 1, 14, 250
Rand Afrikaans, 28, 3, 2, 67, 15, 493
Natal, 26, 3, 25, 46, 15, 122
Wi****ersrand, 22, 2, 12, 64, 18, 159
Rhodes, 21, 3, 8, 68, 4, 041
Cape Town, 21, 13, 5, 61, 14, 509
Port Elizabeth, 16, 12, 3, 69, 5, 617
Potchefstroom, 15, 2, -, 83, 9, 983
Free State, 10, 5, -, 85, 9, 257
Pretoria, 9, 1, 1, 89, 24, 139
Stellenbosch, 2, 8, -, 90, 14, 462
UNISA, 46, 4, 8, 42, 126, 158
Note: Percentages have been rounded to the nearest figure. Historically black universities, with negligible numbers of students from other groups, have been excluded from this table.