Universities are any nation's key public institutions of knowledge development. They drive research, teach students and supervise postgraduates.
By producing and disseminating knowledge, universities can fulfill their mandate as institutions of social, economic, cultural and intellectual development for democratic societies and the global environment.
It's not easy to reconcile the costs of education with narrow economic goals alone. The remit of education is simultaneously individual, social and global. It has qualitative attributes that can't be measured in conventional ways. Higher education is a public good. Providing free education to all citizens has inestimable value and limitless possibilities.