The Department of Higher Education is encouraging all students who recently passed their matric exams to think about continuing their education and training, and is promoting the numerous opportunities that are available to them. Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has stated that there is a catalog of opportunities available to the Class of 2013.
Apart form the existing higher education institutions, two new universities have opened their doors, one in Mpumalanga and one in the Northern Cape. There are also plans to build an open a further 12 Further Education Training (FET) colleges this year.
Given the higher pass rate of the Class of 2013, higher education institutions are expecting an increased demand for places in the post-school education and training system. Blade Nzimande stated that, “This significant increase in successful candidates with predominantly Bachelor and Diploma entrance National Senior Certificates will have implications for the Department in relation to enrollments within higher education institutions.
The Education Department is well aware of the fact that passing matric is a huge step in the live so of South African youth and is encouraging all them to think about continuing their education and look at the 400 000 opportunities available to them in the post-school education and training system, whig includes 25 universities, 50 FET colleges and 21 Sector Education and Training Authorities.
The following opportunities are available to students:
– 197 946 new entrant opportunities in universities;
– 23 000 Engineering and Business studies opportunities at FET colleges;
– 44 000 National Certificate Vocational programme opportunities at FET colleges;
– 10 000 artisanal opportunities at FET colleges.
Nzimande also mentioned that in collaboration with FET colleges, SETAs and employers, there are 93 000 occupational directed apprenticeship and learnership opportunities available and an additional 12 000 artisanal opportunities within the retail auto sector.
There are also more than 16 000 learnerships available from the various SETAs across the country. The Department of Education is making every effort to communicate these opportunities to students via various departmental career guidance initiatives and career festivals. The department in collaboration with the SABC also produced weekly short programs providing information ranging from career guidance and information s about universities and FET colleges.
Nzimande and the Department of education is calling on all students to to apply for further study opportunities. The department has set up a dedicated website and call centre to assist students. Students that cannot afford to call these centre are able to request the centre to call back via ‘please call me back’ messages.
Nzimande admitted that there was always more that could be done to assist students in their decisions to further their education and career guidance and that it is the goal of the department to place at least two career guidance councilors in all FET colleges across the country in 2014.
Challenges facing higher education system
Nzimande has reiterated that there are many challenges for the department when it comes to available space for students who wish to further their education and training. It is the aim of the government to expand the FET college sector as per the National Development Plan which requires that government produce at least 30 000 qualified artisans per year by 2030.
Bursaries, grants and student financial aid
Nzimande stated that the government has set aside R8.3-billion in financial aid for students to further their education and training. This year the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will be assisting 205 000 students at universities and 215 000 students at FET colleges via student loans and bursaries. On top of that, a further R497 million will be available via the National Skills Fund for critical skills programmes that are needed for the growth of the economy.