File photo: Chris Collingridge

Johannesburg - For most high-school learners, the achievement of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) – otherwise known as a matric – is the ultimate goal to enable them to study further. But what are your options to study further if you pass (or fail) Grade 12?

Sheryll Kisten, chief HR officer at Embury Institute for Teacher Education, gives some advice.

1. Choose your field of study

Not all institutions offer all study options, so where you study will depend on the qualification you wish to pursue. If you want to study to become a teacher, nurse or lawyer, you need to apply to institutions that offer these qualifications. Choose a field of study that you feel passionate about, but that will also be able to support you financially when you start work one day.

2. Choose your type of institution

After school, you can study at either a University, University of Technology, or a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college. Universities offer mostly academic degrees and post-graduate qualifications, while Universities of Technology offer mostly higher certificates, diplomas and degrees. TVET colleges offer mostly certificate courses to work in technical or vocational fields. In order to study at a University or University of Technology, you have to pass Grade 12. However, you can start studying at a TVET college with a Grade 9 pass.

3. Choose between private and public institutions

South Africa has 17 public Universities, 9 public Universities of Technology, and 50 public TVET colleges. However, you also have the option to study at a private institution. Private higher education institutions (PHEIs) are not allowed to call themselves universities, but may offer the same levels of qualifications as a public university. In June 2016, 95 PHEIs and 298 private colleges were registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training. This means that you have nearly 300 private providers to choose from after leaving school.

4. Choose your mode of study

Nearly half of all higher education students study through distance learning, mainly through the University of South Africa (UNISA). Distance learning is a good option if you want to work while you study. It also gives you the opportunity to take a little longer to complete your qualification, compared with studying at a campus. You also don’t have to travel to campus every day or live near a campus, so you save costs on travel and accommodation.

5. Choose your qualification

If you know what you want to study, you have to decide what qualification to study. If you want to study at a University, University of Technology or a private higher education institution, your Grade 12 marks will determine what you are allowed to study. For example, you need a Grade 12 Bachelor pass to qualify for studying a degree. Should you wish to become a teacher, you have to study for a minimum of four years. You may either do a four-year Bachelor of Education, or a general three-year degree (such as a Bachelor of Commerce) plus a Post-graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE). If you did not achieve a Bachelor pass, you may alternatively study a Higher Certificate or Diploma, which may thereafter give you access to a degree.

6. Choose how you can pay

If you choose to study at a public University, University of Technology or TVET college, and you meet all the requirements, you could apply to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). NSFAS provides study loans to academically able but financially needy students, and the initial NSFAS loan ranges from R2 000 to R30 000.

If you want to study teaching at a public university, you can apply for the Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme. Full-cost bursaries are available to enable eligible students to complete a full teaching qualification in an area of national priority. Recipients of these bursaries will be required to teach at a public school for the same number of years that they receive the bursary.

If you want to study at a private institution, you may apply for a bursary at the institution or pay for yourself. Most private institutions allow you to pay your study fees in instalments.

If you consider studying through a private institution, keep the following in mind.

7. Choose a registered institution

Ensure that the private institution is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training (ask to see the institution’s Registration Certificate).

8. Choose an accredited programme

Ensure that the specific qualification is accredited. For private higher education institutions, all accredited qualifications will appear on the Registration Certificate. For private colleges that offer Umalusi qualifications, the qualifications will appear on their Registration Certificate. For private colleges that offer only SETA qualifications, ask to see the SETA accreditation letter.

9. Choose a well-respected institution

Choose a private institution that is well respected by employers and by past students. Google its name, and you will quickly see if students are happy or unhappy with a private institution. Ensure that the institution has a very good record of services to students.

10. Choose a specialist

Many private institutions offer as many qualifications as they can to attract a wide range of students. This means that it would be difficult for them to be an expert institution in all fields and qualifications. So rather choose an institution that specialises only in a particular field, such as chef training, teaching or sound engineering.

Adapted from a press release.