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Apply now! Avoid post-matric rush

Stephen Timm

If you are writing matric this year, you must apply now for admission to a tertiary education institution of your choice.

This message, coupled with career advice and assistance on how to apply to universities and colleges, is playing on radio stations, newspapers and social media platforms such as Mxit and Facebook, as part of the Department of Higher Education’s Apply Now campaign. The campaign, which includes the Khetha radio programme on SABC radio stations, was launched in August by the department, in partnership with universities, the Department of Basic Education, the South African Qualifi ations Authority (Saqa) and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, said the campaign is aimed at helping as many learners as possible, especially those from disadvantaged communities, to reduce the number of late applications.

Central application system
An Apply Now booklet details information such as basic career advice, opportunities at Further Education and Training (FET) colleges and universities, Seta training courses, public-service training opportunities and funding opportunities. To improve the applications process, the department is also developing a central application system.
The system, which is similar to one the United Kingdom (UK) uses, will be up and running by 2014, but Nzimande stressed that by next year, the department would have the capability to know how many students apply and are accepted at each tertiary institution. This, he said, would enable the department to know how many spaces are available and at which colleges and universities these are available.
The system is part of a number of interventions detailed in the Green Paper on the Post-School Education and Training System, which the department is putting in place to increase university enrolments to 1,5 million and those of other post-school institutions to four million by 2030.

New universities
The actions also include the construction, by 2014, of two new universities – in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga – to have a combined intake of 20 000 students.
The main campus for the University of Mpumalanga will be located at the Lowveld Agricultural College, while the main seat and campus for the University of the Northern Cape will be located in Kimberley.
Nzimande said that the architects’ plans were being drafted and that environmental impact assessments for the two universities were being prepared.
Academic work groups are also being set up to develop the potential academic focus areas of each institution and to work out partnerships to enable this outcome.
In addition, the department is looking into the possibility of offering free higher education by covering undergraduate qualifications. A team is expected to present a report on the proposal to the department in November.
However Nzimande stressed that previous- ly disadvantaged students already received significant state support – such as subsidised transport and meals and the conversion of fees for third-year students into interest-free loans.
To boost the quality of higher education, the department also aims to:

  • increase funding amounts for post- graduate students to up the number of Masters, honours and doctoral students
  • set aside a dedicated bursary for FET colleges and university lecturers to en- able them to obtain PhDs and Masters degrees part-time
  • send some students overseas to obtain specialised skills
  • recruit students and lecturers from out- side the country
  • get those in the corporate sector with PhD qualifications to lecture part time.

For more information call the Department of Higher Education and Training call centre on: 0800872222