Much has been made of the free education model announced as the final barb by the outgoing president, Jacob Zuma. The 2018-19 budget promised a phased-in process of fee-free university education for all first-year students, starting with 2018’s intake. About R57bn has been allocated to the project over the next three years. But is this the best way of spending the money? Is a university education the best way of equipping SA’s youth for the challenges of the future? The reason why fee-free university education is such an emotive issue should be considered. Many see enrolment at a university as a way of uplifting themselves and their families out of poverty. This oversimplification is potentially problematic. Graduation rates at universities are poor and the degree of those who do manage to graduate does not necessarily qualify them for employment and a good salary. Some of the most popular university degrees are in the social sciences and arts, which do not require a hard-core maths...

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