Embrace opportunity, Nzimande tells Class of 2014

13 January 2015

There are nearly half-a-million opportunities available to the matric class of 2014, Blade Nzimande, the minister of higher education and training said at a media briefing in Cape Town on Monday.

Outlining his department’s plans for the year ahead, Nzimande said post-school study spaces available at South Africa’s universities and other training institutions had increased by 28 646 from 2014’s 396 449 spots.

“Many of those who have met the entrance requirements for university study will be pursuing degrees, diplomas and higher certificates at one of 26 public universities,” Nzimande said.

This included Sol Plaatje University and University of Mpumalanga, both of which are new universities, and the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU), which was promulgated as a juristic person in May 2014 and would be opening its doors to its first student cohort in January 2015.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced the 2014 matric results last week. South Africa’s overall pass rate dropped to 75.8%, down 2.4% from 2013’s figure of 78.2%.

University study was not the only option open to prospective students, Nzimande said: Students could also access opportunities in 50 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and 21 Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs).

Nzimande said available opportunities included:

  • Some 204 522 new entrant opportunities at universities;
  • 44 000 Engineering and Business Studies opportunities at TVET colleges;
  • 37 000 National Certificate Vocational programme opportunities at TVET colleges;
  • About 85 900 occupationally directed (apprenticeship or learnership) opportunities in collaboration with TVET colleges, SETAs and employers;
  • Artisan opportunities totalling to 16 250; and
  • An additional 37 423 learning programme opportunities in the form of 3 380 apprenticeships, 4 513 bursaries and 29 530 learnerships will be further provided by SETAs.

Nzimande said there were 150 752 opportunities for learners qualifying for admission to bachelor studies at higher education institutions and 166 689 opportunities for learners qualifying for admission to diploma studies at higher education institutions.

There are further 86 022 opportunities for learners qualifying for admission to higher certificate studies.

“The national average annual increase in first-time entering students at higher education institutions from 2011 to 2015 is 4.5%, with first-time entering students making up approximately 25% of the total university student population.

“In 2015, our public universities will provide access to approximately 204 522 new entrants wishing to pursue their studies across all general, technical and professional fields including business and management; science, engineering, agriculture and technology; humanities, social sciences, the arts and education,” he said.

Qualified artisans

The minister said matriculants who had obtained a minimum of a higher certificate achievement could consider studying further at a TVET college for a national diploma, with 44 000 study opportunities available for both business and engineering studies.

The National Development Plan, South Africa’s blueprint for economic growth, relies on South Africa producing 30 000 qualified artisans per year.

“Thirty-seven thousand study opportunities are also available for individuals wishing to pursue a vocational programme, which leads to a National Certificate Vocational qualification.

“In South Africa there is a growing trend of matriculants utilising learnership or apprenticeship opportunities to become artisans in the civil, mechanical, electrical, manufacturing or support services career fields,” he said.

Nzimande also said that the post-school education and training sector had, through the SETAs and the National Skills Fund, committed more than R1.7-billion in the 2015/16 financial year to opportunities in these artisan fields that would result in grants for more than 16 250 artisan learners.

SAinfo reporter and SANews.gov