Unsuccessful university applicants hope against hope

Technical colleges in Pretoria, hoping to enrol unsuccessful applicants at higher-learning institutions that are already full for the year, are dishing out free courses and computer gadgets to entice new students to register with them.

Thousands of unsuccessful applicants at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) did not heed the call not to return to the institution’s campuses if they have been unsuccessful. Many were still languishing outside the gates, hoping to be let in.

The institution’s campuses in Pretoria, Soshanguve, Ga-Rankuwa and Arcadia were closed to new applicants this morning with security personnel only allowing staff and existing students on the grounds.

The university has received 70 000 applications for first-year programmes but can only accommodate 13 000 new students.

Some students who spoke to the City Press said they had no choice but to seriously consider applying at colleges that have been distributing pamphlets to unsuccessful applicants outside campuses.

PC Training & Business College, Pretoria Technical College and DAM Technical College were dishing out pamphlets at TUT’s Soshanguve campus, hoping to tempt new students to enrol with them.

PC Training and Business College was offering tablet PCs worth R3 700 to new applicants, while Pretoria Technical College offered a chance to win a bursary for one of six courses to any new applicant.

But most students seemed unconvinced and determined to wait it out before resorting to what they called “last-choice” colleges.

“We don’t trust some colleges but others we’ve seen before and we won’t have a problem with considering them if we can’t get in. But we fear that some colleges may be fly-by-night institutions which will disadvantage us if we waste our time there,” said 18-year-old Thapelo (who wouldn’t provide a surname) from Limpopo, who matriculated last year.

Many students said they had applied late because they thought their parents would not have enough money to send them to tertiary institutions, while others said they simply did not think they would pass matric well enough to qualify to study at higher-education institutions.

Some latecomers were visibly shocked at finding out that the institutions was no longer accepting new applications. They said they had hoped to appeal to the authorities to allow them to register.

One student from KwaZulu-Natal, who asked not to be named, said he may be forced to go back to his home province to try his luck at local institutions after he had failed to register.

“If I get a place in a KZN university, I will need to find a relative I can stay with. But for now I was not lucky with any courses I tried to register for as they were all full,” said the distraught matriculant.

Students from as far as Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal hoping to get spaces at TUT were left unattended as security personnel only formed queues for existing students coming to register for the new year, for those seeking last year’s results or for those seeking student accommodation.

TUT registrar Professor Steward Mothata was clear that all courses offered at the university were full and they would not be accepting new applications.

He said the university would be closed to the public and new students “in the interest of the safety of members of the public”.

The department of higher education hopes a centralised, national applications office, which has successfully been piloted in KwaZulu-Natal, will prevent latecomers from being turned away at the last minute.

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