President Jacob Zuma promises that the state will ensure that more poor students have access to higher education. Zuma made this promise at a graduation ceremony at the University of Zululand, where he is the chancellor.
"The anniversary of an institution of this nature reminds us of the need to work harder to encourage more students from working class and poor communities to acquire higher education," he said.
"This will require that we improve the National Student Financial Aid scheme, among other interventions."
Zuma attended the graduation ceremonies on Friday and Saturday and received a hero's welcome.
He said higher education should help develop South Africa and prepare students for a competitive global economy.
"At the moment, the national skills pool required for industrial development and sustainable competitiveness leaves much to be desired.
"The effectiveness of [higher education will determine if] we are able to achieve economic development and improved standards of living for the poor.
"To achieve those goals, we need education and skills development to be at the centre of our national plans," he said.
Zuma challenged graduates to expand their horizons and look beyond their fields of study or workplace. He said the graduates should consider themselves to be important players in the building of a successful and prosperous country.