Limited space for entry-level students

2013-01-08 00:00

MATRICS entering the job market or higher education institutions are going to find the going tough.

Experts have warned that jobs are scarce and space is limited at the country’s universities.

The number of pupils who qualified for university entrance increased nationally by 26,6% this year. This means that more matriculants will be competing for places at universities, said education expert Graeme Bloch.

In KwaZulu-Natal, of 127 253 pupils who wrote the matric exam, 34 779 qualified for university entrance.

“In UKZN or Wits you’ll find that there are 20 000 applicants for about 5 000 places. It’s a national problem.”

Bloch said a matriculant with a university entrance pass was more likely to get a job. However, a Further Education and Training (FET) pass could also come in handy.

He said businesses had a role to play and could give some matriculants their first break.

Professor Ruksana Osman, head of the Wits School of Education, said universities were not the only places to pursue studies, and that FET colleges, learnerships and work-based experience were options worth looking at.

She told The Witness that most youngsters did not like FET qualifications because of the perception that they were designed for a certain racial group. However, she said FETs were an important sector.

Osman also encouraged matriculants to “follow their passion” because society needed all kinds of people — doctors, artists, poets and plumbers alike.

Wits takes up to 5 500 first-year students and this year alone it has received 34 000 applications for undergraduate and postgraduate places.

The executive director in corporate relations at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Nomonde Mbadi, said the campus had space for an estimated 44 000 undergraduate and postgraduate students in an academic year.

However, it had received close to 75 000 applications for degree programmes in, among others, agriculture, engineering and science, health sciences, humanities, law and management studies.

“As an example, the spaces available for first-year students in electrical engineering are between 80 and 85 and chemical engineering, 95 and 100, and BCom accounting can accommodate 562 entry-level students,” she said.

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