12 January 2012
Amid calls for a more coordinated, flexible and differentiated education system capable of accommodating more of South Africa’s school-leavers, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has reminded the country’s post-matrics of opportunities available outside universities.
Higher Education South Africa called on Wednesday for the development of a coordinated, flexible and differentiated post-school education and training system that pulls in the country’s universities, FET institutions, and agricultural, nursing and teacher training colleges.
Higher Education SA also pledged its support to any initiative aimed at providing a greater set of study opportunities for school leavers, following an incident on Tuesday where a parent was killed during a stampede by late first-year applicants at the University of Johannesburg.
Opportunities ‘beyond universities’
Last week, Nzimande reminded school-leavers of the various options available to them, saying they should consider state Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, where a wide range of in-demand skills were on offer.
Nzimande said there were opportunities beyond universities – in learnerships, artisan training and internships, as well as in FET colleges, nursing and agricultural colleges.
“Public FET colleges, in particular, offer skills that are in line with the country’s growth and development imperatives,” Nzimande said.
“Even as we speak, our economy has a higher and more urgent demand for artisans, technicians, engineers and other scarce skills that can be sourced outside of universities.”
Financial assistance at state insitutions
Nzimande added that there was financial assistance available for deserving students from poor families through the National Financial Student Aid Scheme.
He noted that students attending private higher education institutions did not qualify for government student financial aid.
Following Tuesday’s incident at the University of Johannesburg, Nzimande said the government was considering halting the late application practice, and planned to roll out a centralised applications system of the kind already being used in KwaZulu-Natal.
Higher Education SA said that, in order to learn from the UJ incident, it would “examine the experiences of its 23 member institutions relating to admissions in 2012 with a view to analysing trends, distilling lessons and facilitating mechanisms through which promising practices could be shared across the university system”.