n South African Journal of Higher Education - A comparison of the labour market expectations and labour market experiences of new graduates

Volume 23, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



South Africa, along with the rest of the world, experienced strong growth in higher education enrolments in the latter half of the 20th century. Human capital theory would explain this growth in private higher education demand as individuals' expression of interest in the potentially superior returns offered by educational investments relative to those available from alternative investments. The plausibility of human capital theory as a compelling explanation of the demand for higher education programmes intuitively rests on the proximity of individuals' labour market expectations and labour market outcomes or experiences following graduation. This descriptive case study of a cohort of Durban University of Technology graduates finds that their labour market expectations and experiences are less than well matched. This discrepancy would appear to cast some doubt on human capital theory's credibility to explain the demand for the university's programmes. To the extent that higher education institutions have a human capital interpretation of the demand for their programmes this mismatch of labour market expectations and experiences implies that demand for their programmes may be misinformed and even fragile.

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