Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation Dr. Blade Nzimande acknowledged that the demand for first-degree university education exceeds the number of available spaces at these institutions. However, he stated that when the entire higher education sector is considered, the gap is significantly reduced.
Tuesday in Pretoria, Nzimande briefed the media on the readiness of the higher education sector for the new academic year.
278 815 students in the matric class of 2022 earned a bachelor’s degree; 197 357 (26.7%) earned a diploma; and 108 159 (14.9%) earned a higher certificate. In comparison, there are anticipated to be 208 299 first-time degree places in universities.
“During the 2023 academic year, it is anticipated that 208 299 students will enroll in a university for the first time in the United States. Sixty-nine thousand sixty-nine [69 069] of these first-time entrants will be enrolled in courses requiring rare talents, he said.
“The scarce skills include engineering, life and physical sciences, animal sciences, veterinary sciences, human health, and educator preparation.
“At the beginning of each year, the absorption of students [at universities] is always a challenge. Typically, and this would be the case [this year], eighty percent of individuals who receive bachelor passes will be admitted [and assimilated].
“There are other challenges; we have oversubscribed spaces and spaces that are not oversubscribed in the scarce skills area,” he added, noting that the number of oversubscribed courses balances out as those who do not meet the criteria consider other options and the requirements for each programme vary across institutions.
“A significant proportion of positions in areas with scarce skills require a National Senior Certificate Mathematics score of at least 60 percent.”
Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and community colleges, according to Nzimande, play a significant role in absorbing the gap from universities and students who do not instantly achieve the requirements for their intended degree programs.
This year’s total projected enrollment in TVET programs is 556 415 students.
“Although we encourage students to also pursue TVET colleges, we have begun to investigate blended learning as an alternative to accommodate more students.
“In this sense, I’ve asked the Council on Higher Education to conduct research on blended learning. This form of instruction will expand access to higher education. This may help us reach the National Development Plan goal of 1.6 million university enrollments by 2030, he said.
Registration for the academic year at the university began on January 16 and is slated to conclude on February 20.
Nevertheless, a number of our universities will permit late registrations. Included among these universities are Cape Peninsular University of Technology, Durban University of Technology, Mangosuthu University of Technology, Rhodes University, University of Fort Hare, Walter Sisulu University, Tshwane University of Technology, and University of Zululand.
“Prospective students are encouraged to maintain contact with the universities of their choice through their respective channels of communication,” he stated.
Nzimande noted that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will disclose application results for first-time applicants and returning students on February 6, whilst the funded list for continuing students has been available since Monday.
The deadline for NSFAS funded submissions is January 31.
Nzimande stated, “I am pleased to say that in 2023, we will be able to finance all eligible students on the bursary scheme of the Department of Higher Education and Training who have been admitted to sponsored programs at public TVET institutions and universities.
“As of January 20, the scheme’s online application portal has received a total of 1,131,419 applications, of which 156,700 are from Sassa [SA Social Security Agency] recipients.
“All Sassa recipients have gotten immediate funding approval awaiting enrollment at one of our public universities or TVET colleges.
“Rejected applicants should be aware that they have the right to appeal such NSFAS decisions by providing pertinent supporting papers between January 20 and February 20, 2023.
Nzimande noted that all application decisions, including the appeal option and appeal processes, will be accessible via the myNSFAS portal on the NSFAS website – www.nsfas.org.za.