Mpumalanga’s chances of getting a university are much better
than that of the Northern Cape because of the higher population rate in the
This is according to economist Dawie Roodt. He added that
one of the most important factors was that the university be able to fill its
classes, and with the Northern Cape being the smallest province in terms of its
population size the question of whether it would be able to fill classes should
be looked into.
“A university is not a status symbol and it is important to
make sure there is a need for it”, he said.
Roodt said if it was decided that the Northern Cape should
get a university, it should start off small.
He said the university could start off with just two degrees
for which there was a need in the job market.
“In South Africa we quite often mistakenly think that if you
have some sort of degree you are cool. We have a fixation with degrees, while a
lot of graduates are actually unemployed. So clearly one should have the right
kind of degree”, said Roodt.
He said it was also important that the university did not
become a political playing field. If market research was done and it showed
there was a definite need then it should be done properly.
“A university will ensure a flow of money from national
government. Students will need accommodation, and discos and liquor outlets
will flourish”, said Roodt.
Jan van Vuuren, president of the Northern Cape Chamber of
Commerce and Industry in Kimberley, said a university would be a major economic
boost for the province and especially for the city or town where it would be
Currently Kimberley, Upington and Colesberg were in the race - hoping that the university would be located there.
“Students have money to spend and a university will boost
the major industries like mining and agriculture,” said Van Vuuren.
He said although the establishment of a university could
take between three and five years, he thought it would be an enormous economic
Van Vuuren said Kimberley would be the ideal location for
the university. “The provincial government headquarters is here, there is land
available and the infrastructure is in place”, he said.
Van Vuuren said the university would also boost the
province’s ability to retain its professionals, who were usually lured to other
provinces because of better opportunities.
Johan van Rensburg, chief executive of Agri Northern Cape,
said it was difficult to make projections on the economic growth that a
university would create for the province.
“Too much information - like the size of the university and
where it will be located - is still lacking”, he said.
He added that it would be great if the university was in
Kimberley, but since the University of the Free State was only 150km away, the
obvious choice seemed to be Upington.
- City Press