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Professor of Economics and Public Finance, School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand

Professor Pundy Pillay earned a PhD in Economics and an MA in Economics from the University of Cape Town. He completed his BA Honours at Wits University. Prior to joining the school he was a Visiting Professor at the Universities of the Western Cape and Johannesburg from 2007 to 2010. Between 2001 and 2007 he was a Senior Economist at RTI International. He was Head of the Policy Unit in the Office of the President between 1998 and 2000 and the Executive Director of the Financial and Fiscal Commission between 1995 and 1997. He began his academic career at the University of Cape Town where he was a Senior Lecturer in Economics from 1983 to 1994.

Pillay’s publications include the books Higher Education in the BRICS countries (2015), co-edited with Simon Schwarzmann and Romulo Pinheiro, Springer; Higher Education and Economic Development in Africa (2015), with N Cloete, P Maassen, T Bailey, and I Bunting, CHET, Cape Town; Linking Higher Education and Economic Development: Implications for Africa from Three Successful Systems, (2010) CHET, Cape Town.

In addition to these, he has written the following journals and book chapters:

Pillay et al: Designing a Pro-Poor Bus Fare Policy for the City of Johannesburg, being considered for publication in ‘Research in Transportation Economics’; Research and Innovation in South Africa – in Schwartzmann et al (eds.),

Higher Education in the BRICS countries (2015); Pillay et al: Improving the fit: Making the Skills Development Levies Act work better in South African government departments, Journal of Public Administration, 49 (2), June 2014;

Pillay et al: Unemployment, vulnerability and economic empowerment: implications for career guidance and counseling for youth in South Africa (2014) in International Handbook of Career Guidance; Student Financing in the Developing World: Africa, (2013) in Student Financing of Higher Education: A Comparative Perspective, eds. Donald E Heller and Claire Callender.

He is currently leading the WSG’s participation in an international five-university Horizon 2020 research project on “The EU and Global Justice”. The universities are Oslo, Bologna, Dublin, Tubingen (Germany), and Wits. WSG is leading research on “Trade, development and global justice” in the project.


  • –present
    Professor of Economics and Public Finance, School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand


  • 1992 
    UCT, PhD, Economics