Higher Education falls flat in South Africa

Image only for representation (Image Courtesy : IOL )

Applications for South African Universities are usually far greater than the number of seats. According to an Institute of Race Relations in the 2014-15 South Africa Survey, “First-year university applications tend to far outnumber vacancies.” This despite the fact that the number of seats keep increasing each year.

For instance, in 2004, higher institutions only had the capacity to take in 145,238 candidates whereas, by 2012, that number had increased to 169,765. However, the rejection rates continue to remain high. Universities that are in high demand such as KwaZulu-Natal, tend to garner more applications and therefore have higher rejection rates.

The researchers went on to say that in Zulu land, there are only 6,500 places for first years, but over 82,000 candidates compete to be accepted. This means that for every one place, there are about 13 people competing to take it.

At Durban University of Technology, only one out of every 11 candidates is taken. At the University of KwaZulu-Natal, only one out of every 10 is taken. At Rhodes University, one out of every 5 is taken. At the University of the Witwatersrand, one out of every 8 is taken. At the University of the Western Cape, one out of every 6 is taken. At the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, one out of every 5 is taken. The condition is similar at Stellenbosch University.

However, despite some of the discouraging statistics above, in the Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha Eastern Cape, the success rate was considerably higher as 1 person was taken out of every 2 applicants. Also, at the University of Pretoria, 10,500 of the 42,000 applications were successful.

The director of admissions at the University of Cape Town, Carl Herman, remarked that in South Africa and internationally, there has been a steep increase in the number of applicants in universities. “Until about 10 years ago, students could apply through walk-ins. This has changed because so many prospective students meet admission criteria. It has become much more difficult,” he says.

Even if you meet all the required criteria, you are still likely to be rejected as there will be others who may be more qualified than you are.

The Registrar of the university of Johannesburg, Professor Kinta Burger said that it is very important for applicants who were rejected to get all the support they could as this would help them regain a sense of perspective and give them the morale to consider going for the alternative options provided by both private and public institutions. The Wits website has rightly observed that the issue of the number of places available as opposed to the number of applications is a national issue.

Kaye Nkwanyana, a spokesman for the Department of Higher Education believes that a dearth of seats is not the only reason for the great number of rejections. In 2015, the number of seats increased considerably to a significant 200,000.

He said that not all of the applicants fulfill the minimum entry requirements for the particular fields that they have applied for. Applicants should consider other options in case they end up not fulfilling the requirements. If 10 applicants compete for one place it can also end up as not fulfilling requirements. The Education market seems to have become as complicated and competitive as business markets, it seems.

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