Key Points:

  • VIEWPOINTS is a new series published by CDE in which we will be drawing on the expertise of South Africans from a range of organisations to encourage and enrich debate on important issues.
  • In the first of the series, Jonathan Jansen, Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Stellenbosch shares his views on the future prospects of South African universities.
  • He emphasises the role of university leadership and national policy-makers in preventing the further erosion of the academic project
  • 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.
  • Indeed, by one estimation, ours is “the country with the highest private returns to tertiary education,” with the rate of return increasing from 28.7% in 2000 to 39.5% in 2011.1 Part of this is a result of the marked difference in the employment chances of a student with only a matriculation certificate and one with a degree: the unemployment rate for graduates stands at 7.4% but for those with only a matriculation certificate it is 27.9%.2
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