The opening of the doors of learning and culture in higher education in SA is long overdue. But several questions have been raised since President Jacob Zuma committed the country to providing free higher education for poor and working-class students. These include the timing of the announcement; the readiness of universities and other institutions of higher learning to accommodate a flood of students; the physical infrastructure and human capital who provide pedagogy; and how universal access will be funded given an increasing state debt to GDP ratio estimated at 52% and budget deficit estimated at 4.9% in a faltering economy. However, there has been very little discussion on the link between education and the economy, specifically SA’s system of skills formation. Did insufficient employment growth in the economy to fully absorb new entrants into the labour market play a hand in the decision?The official unemployment rate of 27.6% for a third successive quarter in the third quarter...

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