In this work, we contribute to the debate on the transformation of higher education institutions (HEIs) in post-apartheid South Africa by examining the changing demography of academic staff bodies at 25 South African HEIs from 2005 to 2015. We use empirical data to provide initial insights into the changing racial profiles of academic staff bodies across age, gender and rank and then summarise our findings into a transformation ‘scorecard’ which provides an indication of how all racial groups in the country are performing in terms of their representation in higher education. Initial results indicate that most academics in South Africa are middle-aged (between 35 and 54) but an ageing trend is evident, particularly among white academics. In terms of gender, males marginally outnumber females, although we estimate an equitable distribution to be attained within the next 5 years. Significantly, the data indicate that there is an upwards trajectory of black African academics across all rankings from 2005 to 2015 and a concomitant downward trajectory of white academics across all rankings. Both Indian and coloured academics most closely represent their national population representation. Our transformation ‘scorecard’ indicates that the demography of academic staff at higher education institutions in South Africa is changing and will continue to change in the future, particularly within the next 20 years if current trends continue.