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By Lunga Simelane

Journalist


South Africa’s youth needs to explore technical and vocational path

About four million applications were received for less than 163 000 places in South Africa’s universities.


With matric results out, students are rushing for places in universities and colleges, yet many will not get in due to limited university intakes. A total of 920 634 matriculants wrote the examinations last year. This was a 3% increase over 2021’s participants, comprising full-time and part-time pupils from all nine of South Africa’s provinces. About four million applications were received for less than 163 000 places in South Africa’s universities. It’s important to note that of these four million applications, there will be applicants who apply to five different universities and put their names down for at least three…

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With matric results out, students are rushing for places in universities and colleges, yet many will not get in due to limited university intakes.

A total of 920 634 matriculants wrote the examinations last year. This was a 3% increase over 2021’s participants, comprising full-time and part-time pupils from all nine of South Africa’s provinces.

About four million applications were received for less than 163 000 places in South Africa’s universities. It’s important to note that of these four million applications, there will be applicants who apply to five different universities and put their names down for at least three programme choices at all five.

‘University systems have improved’

University of Witwatersrand senior deputy vice-chancellor Professor Ruksana Osman said over the past 25 years, university systems have improved regarding the issue of access to higher education.

According to Osman, although places were increasing every year, the main problem was that the sector was not sufficiently differentiated.

“So, although we have universities, comprehensive universities and universities of technology, the problem is that many students still see going to university as the only successful route.

“Everything else is seen as only when you cannot get into university can you consider something else,” she said.

“However, much more can be done to differentiate the sector and also to make the sector and all the elements in it more attractive.”

SA needs more in technical and vocational area

Osman said society had made students believe that university was the only successful pathway. But if the system was differentiated better, provided better opportunities and made the opportunities available equally attractive, then more students would be entering different areas.

“The South African need is much more in the technical and vocational area. “Yet those are the areas which are most unattractive to students,” she said.

Osman said students did not want to consider these options for a variety of reasons. These included the quality of teaching and learning associated with technical and vocational education and training colleges.

“We have to improve our technical and vocational education and training colleges much more by focusing on quality and providing better education inside the colleges,” she said.

In terms of the flow from secondary to tertiary education, Osman added that a lot had been done in regards to access and the department of higher education’s enrolment planning, but more needed to be done at schools involving conveying what choices were available for students.

READ MORE: Technical training at TVET colleges is a ‘great option’

Expose students early

“There needs to be intervention in the school years to expose students to all the opportunities available,” she said. “Students need to know that they have many other choices they can make.

“Not all students who matriculate met the requirements for university. “The other thing which could be done is to improve the quality of the passes coming out of the annual matric class.”

South Africa’s unemployment rate is projected to trend at around 34% in 2023 and 35% the following year, according to econometric models.

NOW READ: Vocational training: a possible solution for low grades

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