The Future Prospects of South African Universities

Is there a future for South African universities? For a country that has the developmental ambitions we have, this is a vital question. And its answer must start with the recognition of the very high value of a university degree. The unemployment rate for graduates stands at 7.4% but for those with only a matriculation certificate it is 27.9%. A university qualification therefore matters for the relatively small number of school students who manage to access higher education for a first degree; by last count the participation rate (total enrolments as percentage of population between ages 20-24) was only 19% on average, but was much lower for Africans (16%) and Coloureds. At the same time, universities matter as the primary engine for the production of high-level skill and talent for economic growth, technological innovation and societal leadership.