MBA and PDEM 2017

“The challenge and opportunity for all economies and businesses today is to determine ever more clearly and practically how ‘the Four Es’ – Economy, Equity, Ethics, Ecology – can be holistically integrated in management and all business decisions.

This requires true leadership, the hallmark of which is the ability to steer a sustainable course through the many diverse issues with which organisations are confronted, by embracing solid, principled, humanitarian values. These are the leadership qualities, values and skills that we promote through Rhodes Business School’s AMBA-accredited, flagship MBA programme.” – Professor Owen Skae, Director, Rhodes Business School.

Download our 15th Anniversary Publication. It explains, our history, purpose and why you should consider us for studying an MBA or PDEM:

Rhodes Business School celebrates 15 Years



Rhodes Business School is one of only 2% of business schools worldwide to have achieved accreditation by the Association of MBAs (AMBA). This accreditation is the global standard for all MBAs (Master’s of Business Administration).

AMBA is the only professional membership association that connects accredited business schools, MBA students, MBA graduates and MBA employers in more than 110 countries. MBA graduates from AMBA-accredited business schools progress to lead many of the world’s largest multinationals and successful entrepreneurial start-ups.





The aim of Rhodes Business School is to produce integrated and holistic thinkers, who perform at the highest level anywhere in the world, and are able to:

  • Critically understand equitable, ethical, economic and ecological imperatives for a world that is consuming resources faster than it can replenish them;
  • Responsibly lead and manage organisations that understand and act upon the needs, interests and expectations of all stakeholders;
  • Pursue the business and moral case for sustainability; and
  • Enhance the pursuit of responsible management practices and functions.


 Rhodes Business School’s MBA Programme has been carefully designed to offer students the best of both worlds, where they continue in their employment and at the same time benefit from the stimulation and excitement of face-to-face interaction in the business school environment.

 Rhodes Business School’s current MBA is a part-time, two-and-a-half-year modular programme, comprising 18 modules and a 15,000-word research mini-thesis.

In each of the first two years of study, students are required to attend three teaching blocks of two weeks duration per block at Rhodes Business School, Rhodes University, Grahamstown. Between teaching blocks, students are required to complete work-based assignments and prepare for examinations, which are written at the start of each successive teaching block.  The 15,000-word research mini-thesis is completed in the third year and must be submitted by the end of the first semester.


Most part-time MBA students have traditionally funded the costs of their studies from after-tax earnings and student loans. This has become a massive commitment now that the cost of the MBA programme is R50 000 per annum (excluding expenses such as travel and accommodation).The funding of postgraduate students

Rhodes Business School believes that a fundamental challenge that requires addressing in the transformation of South Africa’s universities is the financial obstacle that tuition fees pose to prospective students. In the context of MBA programmes, admission should, as far as possible, be based on merit and commitment irrespective of financial privilege.

In recent years, a number of opportunities have emerged to promote workplace- based learning, particularly where the employer participates in partnership with students, universities and government. Many employers are unaware of these opportunities or have not implemented the procedures required to maximize the benefits currently available.

 Income Tax

Traditionally, donations to universities are claimed as deductible expenditure in terms of Section 18A of the Income Tax Act. However, this provision is targeted at philanthropic initiatives and has its limitations in the context of encouraging workplace-based learning through bursaries and scholarships targeted at funding postgraduate education, primarily:

  • The donor is specifically not permitted to nominate the recipient of the bursary or scholarship;
  • Terms and conditions may not be attached to the bursary or scholarship; and
  • The quantum of the income tax deduction is limited to 10 percent of the employer’s taxable income.

Thus, in the context of an employer providing financial assistance to a targeted employee, Section 18A is of little assistance.

No general income tax deductions are available to students or donors sponsoring nominated beneficiaries in respect of university fees and related costs. However, this does not detract from the income tax provisions specifically targeted at the taxation implications of employers who are sponsoring and promoting workplace-based learning.

It was never the intention of the Income Tax Act to discourage the payment of bursaries and scholarships on behalf of bona fide employees. The controls that exist within Section 10(1)(q) of the Income Tax Act only serve to limit the payment of bursaries and scholarships to siblings and relatives of employees, but not the employee.

Employers may pay for bona fide bursaries and scholarships

Thus an employer is at liberty to pay bona fide bursaries and scholarships on behalf of employees to an unlimited extent. To achieve this, bursaries and scholarships must be paid directly to the educational institution and not paid to the employee by way of a cash allowance. It is also possible for employers to restructure the terms and conditions of the employment contract to include the bursary or scholarship arrangement.

 Retention and staff development

Section 10(1)(q) contains one caveat. The employee is expected to stay in employment with the employer on a year-for-year basis post qualification. Many employers view this requirement as a plus factor in the retention and development of a staff complement.

In synopsis, in the context of part-time study in the workplace, it is highly preferable for university fees to be structured within an employment package. This can achieve a tax saving of up to 41% of fees, depending on the tax profile of the employee student.

However, given South Africa’s corporate tax rate of 28%, it is necessary to search for further incentives to encourage employers to participate further in the workplace postgraduate education of employees.

Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE)

The new codes of Good Practice on B-BBEE were issued by the Department of Trade and Industry in 2013, with an implementation date of 1 May 2015 under the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act of 2003 (B-BBEE).

Any Measured Entity that undertakes any economic activity, whether direct or indirect, with any other Measured Entity that is subject to measurement under paragraph 3.1.1 to 3.1.2 of the codes, must establish its own level of B-BBEE compliance using the generic scorecard.


Element Weighting Code series reference
Ownership 25 points 100
Management Control 15 points 200
Skills Development 20 points 300
Enterprise and Supplier Development 40 points 400
Socio-Economic Development 5 points 500

A Large Enterprise (any enterprise with a turnover of more than R50 million per annum) is required to comply with all the elements of the scorecard. The Priority Elements (40% of the points on the scorecard must be met), which the Large Enterprise must meet, is Net Value under Ownership, Skills Development and Enterprise and Supplier Development.

A Qualifying Small Enterprise (QSE) (turnover of more than R10million but under R50 million per annum) is required to comply with all of the elements of B-BBEE, however the QSE scorecard is yet to be promulgated. The Priority Elements that the QSE must meet is Net Value under Ownership as a compulsory element, and either Skills Development or Enterprise and Supplier Development.

Failure to comply with the 40% minimum requirement of each of the Priority Elements incurs an automatic discount by one level in the ultimate B-BBBEE rating.

Skills Development within the workplace

One of the three Priority Elements is Skills Development within the workplace. This now accounts for 20 of the maximum measured 105 points in the Scorecard.

The Skills Development element, as set out in Code series 300, measures the extent to which employers carry out initiatives designed to develop the competencies of black employees and black people, internally and externally.

The following table represents the criteria used for deriving a score for Skills Development

Category Skills Development Element Weighting




2.1.1 Skills Development Expenditure on any programme specified in the Learning Programme Matrix for black people as a percentage of the leviable amount Skills Development Expenditure on Learning Programmes specified in the Learning Programme Matrix for black people as a percentage of the leviable amount. 8 6 % Skills Development Expenditure on Learning Programmes specified in the Learning Programme       Matrix for black employees with disabilities as a percentage of the leviable amount. 4 0.3%
2.1.2 Learnerships, Apprenticeships and Internships. Number of black people participating in Learnerships, Apprenticeships and Internships as a percentage of total employees. 4 2.5% Number of black unemployed people participating in training specified in the Learning Programme Matrix as a percentage of number of employees. 4 2.5%
Bonus points
2.1.3 Number of black people absorbed by the Measured and Industry Entity at the end of the Learnerships Programme. 5 100%

Expenditure incurred on Learning Programmes for qualifying individuals ( above) has the highest weighting within the Skills Development scorecard: 8 points out of 20 points (excluding bonus points). The company or entity measured for B-BBEE purposes must achieve a target of 6% of Skills Development leviable remuneration as declared to SARS. Should only this item in the above scorecard be met, the 40% Priority Element for Skills Development will be met.

Sectoral Education Training Authority (SETA)

Employers registered with SARS with a payroll of over R500 000 are required to pay a Sectoral Development Levy (SDL) of 1% of the payroll.

Many employers view SDL as a final tax charge. However, SDL collections do not form part of the national revenue pool. Instead, they are distributed to the various SETA entities in terms of the Skills Development Act.

23 SETAs were established in 2000. Each SETA has a defined sector in which it operates. All the SETAs are responsible for both the private and public sectors within their own sector

Source: FASSET

A portion of SDL may be reclaimed via Mandatory Grants or Discretionary Grants implemented by the various SETA’s.

Mandatory Grant Programme

 This programme serves to reimburse training expenditure of employers in accordance with the submitted Work Skills Plans (WSP) and Annual Training Reports (ATR). Actual training costs are reimbursed by this grant, but limited to only 20% of the employer’s SDL liability.

Discretionary Grant Programme

The Discretionary Grants Act serves as an incentive for employers to participate in the achievement of the specific SETA Strategic Plans.

Pivotal Grants (PG) form part of the SETA Strategic Plans and enable employers to claim back a maximum of 49.5% of the SDL payments.

The basic requirements applicable to Pivotal Grants include:

  • Specific learners who have registered on or completed Learnerships;
  • Academic and Professional Study to specific employed and unemployed learners who have successfully completed a course of study at recognised institutions or professional bodies;
  • Quality Assured and Structured Workplace Experience where specific learners enter or complete full-time, on-the-job training (non-Learnership.

According to regulations, PIVOTAL is an acronym that stands for Professional, Vocational, Technical and Academic Learning programmes, which result in qualifications, as determined by the National Qualification Framework (NQF).

Master of Business Administration degrees and postgraduate degrees offered by Rhodes Business School qualify for discretionary grant status under the PIVOTAL Grant Programme.

The contribution paid towards tuition fees and associated costs differ amongst the various SETAs and may be as much as R110 000. This represents a substantial portion of the total cost of an MBA.


Skills development is an integral part of the National Development Plan. The importance of work-based postgraduate study is one of the skills development goals of South Africa and should be taken up by employers.

In South Africa, many students and universities struggle to pursue postgraduate studies without the participation of both employers and government

Incentives from government do exist. While the compliance requirements inherent to releasing these incentives are considerable, they are attainable and generous. Employers are encouraged to unlock the potential funding opportunities available from the SETAs, and, at the same, time enhance their B-BBBEE scorecards.

The participation of key employees in an internationally accredited MBA programme presents an ideal opportunity for employers to accelerate the progression of key staff members. At the same time employers will be implementing employment practices that will benefit many employees now and into the future.

We at Rhodes Business School believe this is a win-win for everybody in South Africa. It will lead to a sustainable pipeline of leadership and management talent that will positively transform our business landscape.


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