Tens of thousands of matric pupils face rejection in 2021 as South Africa’s state-funded public universities are unable to meet the demand for spaces.
UCT receives eight times the number of applications that it can accommodate (32 000 applicants, only 4 200 spots available) with the pressure even greater for in-demand degrees like medicine, engineering, education, accounting, law and social work.
Other universities report similar ratios. For instance at the University of KwaZulu-Natal they receive 10 times the number of applications (91 000 applicants with only 8 770 spots available). Wits University receives 14 times the number of applications (70 349 applicants with only 5 000 spots available).
However, education specialists have urged parents and matric pupils to consider pursuing tertiary qualifications outside of the public system with institutions registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).
“Many people erroneously believe you can only get a degree, or even a doctorate, at a university”, said Stadio Higher Education chief academic officer Dr Divya Singh.
Singh added that private higher education institutions which are registered with DHET offer accredited qualifications of equal quality to the public institutions.
Government regulations allow for only public higher education institutions to call themselves “universities”, even though the Council on Higher Education accredits all programmes from both public and private, and the South African Qualifications Authority applies the same standards to register qualifications from both private and public higher education institutions.
“This is why matriculants should not despair as there is now an excellent range of private tertiary offerings that can accommodate them and offer considerable benefit – including distance and contact learning enabled by state-of-the-art online platforms and systems,” added Singh.
In addition, learners who do not achieve a Bachelor’s pass can complete a Higher Certificate which will then grant them access to further tertiary options, including degreed courses.