Too much talent for South African HE

Nieuws | de redactie
22 januari 2013 | The South African post-apartheid generation has been celebrated widely for its success at their high-school exams. But now they struggle to find their way into a university.

The generation of students born after 1994, when Nelson Mandela became the first black president of South Africa, has difficulties to find their spot in a university. South Africa’s minister for higher education has called for pupils to try their luck in vocational colleges that may lack the prestige of universities, but provide training for qualified workers that the country sorely lacks.

Having more students pass the their high school exam does not necessarily mean that more will get a chance at further study.  Nor does it mean that the general level of students is improving. Some South African education experts say the standards required to pass the exams keep on being lowered.

Admission more competitive

At University of the Witswaterstrand, one of the most selective of the country, every college is full, except for a few spots in the education program. Carol Crosley, who is in charge of admissions, says her school cannot accept more students.

“Because we’ve got a static number of spaces available, it becomes that much more competitive.  So, in the past, when students may say they managed to get into, let’s say, engineering with 60 percent for most of their courses, we are finding now that the average student requires 70 percent to get in engineering,” Crosley stated.

Although accessing higher education is increasingly difficult the number of students keeps rising. Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande: “It becomes important to note this point that the growth rate of the university education sector has been at an average of about 5 % per annum over the last five years. The planned growth rate per annum going forward is at about 3%, which is what is required to reach the target of 1.5m enrolments in Higher Education by 2030.”

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