Universities Can't Accommodate All Matriculants

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Many matriculants have set their sights on tertiary education programme as they key to their future careers. However, not all the individuals who meet the eligibility criteria for university programmes can be accommodated in 2024. 

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Higher Education Deputy Minister Buti Manamela has expressed concern over the increasing demand for university education compared to the available spaces. 

Last week, more than half a million matriculants qualified to enter the Post-School Education and Training (PSET) sector. The sector comprises 26 universities and 50 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. 

Manamela revealed that there are only 450 000 spaces available across 23 universities and colleges. However, almost a million matriculants sat down to write their 2023 final matric exams.

The mismatch between demand and capacity has led to situations where highly sought-after institutions have overwhelming numbers of applicants, causing disappointment for many hopeful students looking to further their education. 

Moreover, Deputy Minister Manamela urged students and parents to consider alternatives to university education. They emphasised the importance of TVET colleges, which play a crucial role in supplying skilled workers for various industries. 

Despite these efforts to redirect students toward TVET colleges, there remains a persistent preference for university education, leading to ongoing challenges in managing the demand for limited spaces.

On the other hand, SASCO President Vezinhlanhla Simelane criticised the autonomy of universities, stating that it contributes to the challenges in the university placement process.

Simelane explained that universities' autonomous status allows them to make decisions independently, including the refusal of late applications. SASCO advocates for the removal of university autonomy to ensure government involvement in decision-making processes, addressing issues such as late application rejections.

Simelane also highlighted the plight of students during this critical period, where walk-in applications and the denial of spaces create chaos. They explain that SASCO is actively involved in grassroots efforts to assist students facing rejection and emphasise the importance of releasing examination results early to facilitate timely applications.

The debate around university placements in South Africa reflects broader issues in the education system, including disparities in access, challenges in accommodating demand, and the ongoing struggle between autonomy and government intervention. 

Individuals seeking placement are encouraged to register on the Central Application Clearing House (CACH) system. The service guarantees that a student's data will be made available to all possible institutions within the PSET system for placement. 

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