Free higher education is not sustainable, says VC

A subsidised higher education system by the government with South Africa’s current economic growth is not sustainable. This is according to University of the Free State Vice-Chancellor Professor Francis Petersen, writes Zodidi Dano for the Cape Argus.

“We need a massive boost in our economy in order to sustain the South African higher education subsidy system, but I also believe we need to pull other components of the economy. Universities are the cornerstones of the economic growth of the country; we need better investments in universities,” he said. “Look at South Africa, there are still people with no access to primary healthcare, water, sanitation – basic things needed for humanity. Weighing those with free education is a no-brainer.”

He said that over the past 10 years university vice-chancellors had criticised the underfunding of the system. This had forced students and parents to fund it. Collaborative work from stakeholders such as the government, the private sector, industry and research councils would yield successful students, thus improving the economy. “If those sectors can realise valuable contributions, they can, working together interchangeably, give us a chance to move our economic growth to above 5%. My passion is to see all sectors operating as one, realising the different things they do, but building a system of innovation.”
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