Education body to study admissions policy
Johannesburg - Higher Education SA (Hesa) would look at the admissions practices of its 23 member institutions, but believed there were too many eligible students for the number of places available, it said on Wednesday.
"This is largely due to the fact that there aren't sufficient post-school options available to school leavers eligible for further studies," Hesa said.
Gloria Sekwena died in a stampede at the University of Johannesburg on Tuesday morning when she was accompanying her son Joseph to apply for a place.
Twenty people were injured.
Hesa said many school leavers chose university because there were limited other post-school options in the country's education and training system.
"This growing demand has severely stretched the current capacities of our public universities."
It pledged support to any initiative aimed at providing better study opportunities for school leavers and believed not all school leavers could be accommodated within the present public higher education sector.
The country needed a post-school training system which should include teacher education colleges, Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, agricultural colleges, nursing colleges and universities.
It called for all sectors of society to come up with constructive solutions to the admission problem, which had reached "alarming proportions".
The Azanian Students' Congress said the problem was not "late application syndrome", but an insufficient number of institutions of higher learning.
"White" universities such as Rhodes also set higher entrance requirements, making students turn to alternatives such as UJ, Azasco president Rabelani Muthige said in a statement.
Azasco charged that UJ just wanted the application fees it was charging prospective pupils and could have taken precautions during the application process.
"But UJ instead allowed their greed for tens of thousands of application fees [non-refundable] to dictate their approach, which resulted in disregard for black life."
The ANC Women's League encouraged pupils to apply to universities early to prevent chaos, and for the universities to process applications quickly.
"This incident highlights the desperation of our youth to get an education in order to get a decent job and lift themselves out of their current situations," the league said.
"We would like to encourage these young people not to give up yet, there are still other options available to them. Should they not get in through this application process, they should try again in the next semester."
Meanwhile, UJ said it would pay the tuition fees of Sekwena's son.
"Although nothing can replace the 19-year-old prospective student's mother, UJ has offered to waive tuition for his choice of study at UJ, should he adhere to the programme choice's admission criteria," registrar Professor Marie Muller said.