Why free university education will not work

imagesuniversityAdapted from an article written by Jonathan Jansen

Yet another culture shift that has shaken the ground under us has to do with changing attitudes among many students towards public universities. Whereas before universities were treasured as engines of economic growth and gateways for social mobility, they are now seen as little more than welfare organisations representing an extension of the duty of the state to care for the poor. The notion of a university as a site of excellence for research and a competitive space in the global economy of higher education has been reduced to one of low-quality production machines that churn out semi-literate graduates.

Most alarming is the observation by most employers that graduates fresh from university do not have knowledge or skills that will add value to the workplace.

It is now acceptable for students to publicly abuse university leaders, who are seen as little different from municipal managers, the institutional face of the welfare state. And if the militant minority does not get its way, well then, incinerate libraries or computer centres or lecture rooms. These are no longer sporadic events; such behaviour represents the new normal. Plans are already under way for the 2017 disruptions. Our universities will never be the same.

The only solution would be Private Higher Education Institutions offering work integrated learning and providing students with financial incentives based on academic performance. Government, read the Council on Higher Education, knows this and yet they deliberately do their utmost not to accredit private learning institutions. Is government really serious about the development of the youth of South Africa?

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