Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Following the #FeesMustFall campaign that ended with Jacob Zuma’s last-minute legacy of free tertiary education, the cost to SA will be enormous and relatively little will be gained.

Many if not most students who qualify for this gift from taxpayers find great difficulty coming to terms with the subjects and disciplines that SA really needs if it is to lift itself out of the economic doldrums.

Engineering, science, technology, medicine, accountancy and law typically require more than just scraping through matric with the bare minimum needed to get a bachelor degree exemption.  As a result, the free education contingent often end up doing soft subjects such as social sciences or political studies which have limited value when it comes to improving the economy or creating jobs.

A further consideration when evaluating the cost or benefit of free education is the appalling drop-out rate of about 50% or more students enrolled for a three-year tertiary course.

The government would get much better value if it focused free education for students who study disciplines in much-needed skills, and who stay the course and qualify with a degree. 

To this should be added vocational training in teaching,  electrical engineering, plumbing, welding, carpentry and bricklaying.  In that way taxes will be used to enable the economy to grow and develop for the benefit of everyone, and not just to satisfy a promise made to gain political traction.

Dr Jon Harris
Burgundy Estate