Universities full for 2017: here are your alternatives

2017-01-08 13:53

Universities are already full for 2017. So, if you don't already have a seat then your chances of getting entry are very small.

Many applicants - Few university seats

Msindisi Fengu wrote a good article about the space available for first years at each university. I will just give the highlights here. Last year this meant that only 1 in 8 applications will find a place at university.

University of Johannesburg: received 95 000 applications, for 13 500 available places.

University of Cape Town: space for 4 200 first-year students. Start of classes delayed because deferred exams, meaning FeesMustFall.

University of the Western Cape:space for 4 500 first-year students. Start of classes delayed.

Tshwane University of Technology: space for 15 000 first-year students. Start of classes not delayed. Still have a few seats open for 2017 applications for Arts and Science.

University of the Witwatersrand: space for 6 200 first-year students. No late applications will be accepted. Start of classes not delayed.

Rhodes University: space for 1643 first-year students. Start of classes delayed for deferred exams.

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University: space for 6 500 first-year students. Deferred exams will not affect the intake of first-year students.

University of Johannesburg: space for 10 500 first-year students. More than 135 500 applications last year.

Walter Sisulu University: space for 7 500 first-year students. Still have space in the accounting and science programmes. Last year they had 22 000 applicants.

University of Fort Hare: space for 5 542 first-year students. All spaces taken.

University of Zululand: space for 5 000 first-year students. They had 80 000 applications.

Stellenbosch University: space for 5 000 first-year students. Last year they had 22 700 applications.

Cape Peninsula University of Technology: space for 9 000 first-year students. Last year they had 32 000 applications.

Durban University of Technology: last year one in ten applications was accepted.

University of South Africa (Unisa): applications closed in November. So no space for new students before the second semester.

Not the Matric Results you Hoped For?

University of Pretoria: last year 10 500 out of 42 000 applicants were successful.

Having a seat does not guarantee you a Degree

According to this article by Bonging Nkosi in 2016, more than half of the first-year students will drop out during their first year.

So at least half of the first-years who worked so hard to get into a university, will be out of the system by this time next year. Having wasted a year, and the cost of that academic year.

In the end, only about 5% of the kids who started school 12 years ago, will have a degree in three years from now.

Here are some wise words from Jonathan Jansen about studying. About the risk of self deception when the system is aimed at making more students pass, and not at making the brightest students excel. And how you should develop your ability to think critically.

I still think we are busy with this experiment: The economics professor who gave his whole class the average mark for a test. This every actually happened. But it is still an interesting thought experiment.

The lucky few

If you know how many students fall out of our school system, you will understand why I call the students in the matric class "lucky". And those who pass matric and go on the university, "the lucky few".

Have a look at the drop-out rate in the school system, of the 2016 cohort. In short, 41% of them dropped out since grade 10.

I mention this number, to make the point that one out of every eight applicants might get a seat at university. But that it is not only the seven who don't get a seat that are left disillusioned. There are at least another seven who never even got to matric.

What options are available if you did not get into a University?

In private education you have many options. If you cannot get a space at a university, you might still get a space at a private educational institution that also offer degrees.


When the universities are full for 2017, you can still study Degrees offered by private institutions. They are accredited by the CHE (Council on Higher Education). And they adhere to the same quality standards as our universities.

Professional Qualifications

Consider studying towards a qualification from one of our Professional Bodies. These qualifications are highly recognised, aimed at preparing your for the world of work, and often transportable across industries and even countries.

Professional Studies

I work for Skills Academy, and we offer qualifications from the ICB (Institute of Certified Bookkeepers). With these qualifications you can start without a matric, and study up to a level two years higher than matric.


You can choose from TVET (FET) Colleges, as well as many private colleges. These colleges are either registered with the DHET, or accredited by a SETA.

Where can I Study without Matric?

The DHET's rules prevent SETA accredited colleges from registering with the DHET. (This might chance in 2017.) So if you want to consider only accredited colleges, you need to look at the different accrediting bodies, being the CHE, Umalusi, QCTO and all the SETAs; not only at the DHET registration list.

Short Courses

To improve your employability and gain some new skills, you can choose from a very wide rage of short courses in South Africa. Most of our educational institutions offer short courses. So this is a way to keep studying, even if you did not gain entry to a university.

Study while you Work

For most students the reality is that they must find a job. For these students distance learning becomes a good option. Because with distance learning you can study in the evenings, while working your job in the daytime.

Distance learning courses can have the same level of recognition as full-time courses. And often they are less expensive.

Scarce Skills - Study something that will get you a job

I wrote extensively about scarce skills here. Understanding what skills are in short supply, is a sure way to ensure you will get a job out of your qualification.

At Skills Academy we have been focussing on the ICB Courses, because there is such close link between these courses and scarce skills. The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers has developed and accredited a range of high quality programmes to address skills shortages - focussing not only on Bookkeeping and Accounting, but also Office Administration, Public Sector Accounting and Entrepreneurship.

About the Author:

Update: Read here about what you can study without matric.

Jan Badenhorst works as the CEO of Skills Academy. Skills Academy offers Home Study Courses to people who never completed Matric, or who cannot get entry into Universities.

Here is a slideshow about further studies if you do not have Matric.




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