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It's that time of year again when many would-be students have been turned away from universities for neglecting to get their applications in on time. However, the issue of limited space also plays a significant role, as universities closed their doors to late applications last week when capacity was reached.

A recent article by the Mail & Guardian told of matriculants still seeing universities as their first port of call ahead of FET Colleges when pursuing tertiary education, in spite of government's attempts to change the status quo.

It would seem that the prevailing opinion among many young people is that FET colleges and the education that they offer, are "less". Reasons for having this opinion ranged from the perceived low quality of education to fearing a lack of employability after graduating from an FET college.

However, the Pretoria News reported that after universities closed their doors for late applications, many hopefuls turned to FET colleges. Some wanted to improve their dismal matric results with the goal of applying again to universities for admission. Others regarded FET colleges as better options than universities due to their pragmatic (practical) approach (as opposed to academic).

According to figures from the Department of Higher Education and Training, enrolment at FET colleges grew from 427 435 in 2011 to 657 690 last year. This represents an increase in enrolments of about 54 percent.In addition, funding for FET colleges increased from R3.8-billion in 2010 to R4.8bn last year. This amount is expected to rise further in 2013.

What is more, bursaries allocated to students at FET colleges also increased significantly, from R318-million in 2010 to R1.75bn last year.

Despite all the time and money government is spending to turn FET Colleges into the backbone of its strategy to increase access to tertiary education, it seems that a negative attitude towards them, prevails.

However, one might argue that entrenched attitudes do not change overnight, and that attitudes toward FET colleges are indeed changing, as illustrated by the many would-be students that are happy to be studying at an FET college, according to the Pretoria News.

What is YOUR stance on this matter? Would you want to study at an FET college or a university? What are your reasons for saying this?

By Kat Potgieter

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