Cape Town – Universities in the Western Cape province have shown mixed reaction to the amended minimum admission requirements for entry into bachelor's degree programmes, which includes a 30% pass in language.
Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor made the changes after consulting the Council on Higher Education, and it applies to the 2019 academic year intake.
The changes mean a minimum admission requirement of 30% is needed in the language of learning and teaching of the higher education institution, coupled with an achievement of between 50 and 59% in four 20-credit National Senior Certificate (NSC) subjects.
A 20-credit subject makes up the seven-subject package needed to obtain an NSC. In March, the department revoked the designated list of subjects for the NSC, meaning learners need to score higher than 50% for any four subjects, excluding life orientation.
An institution will still be entitled to specify subject requirements for a particular programme. For example, maths and physical science might be considered as requirements for admission to a BSc.
Stellenbosch University (SU) spokesperson Martin Viljoen said the amendments did not challenge learners to achieve their best.
“Passing any Grade 12 subject at 30% is a poor indicator of the probability of a student passing a quality bachelor’s degree. The latest gazetted announcement still does not challenge high school learners to adequately prepare for bachelor's studies.”
Viljoen added: "SU acknowledged the need to enlarge the application pool for access to higher education in South Africa. SU is confident that it has the right set of subject-specific admission requirements and the necessary academic support programmes in place to ensure that students can access the institution with the prospect of completing our programmes successfully.
"Access with success is high on Stellenbosch University’s learning and teaching agenda."
Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) spokesperson Lauren Kansley said the university would amend the minimum requirements and changes would eventually be presented at institutional academic forums, including Senate.
“Acceptance into university remains a competitive process and CPUT always endeavours to provide a space to the most well-deserving and academically achieving individuals.
"This remains the case and learners should always aim to achieve the best results to give them a competitive edge,” Kansley said.
The University of Cape Town (UCT) said it welcomed the fact that more applicants would be eligible for degree admission.
Spokesperson Elijah Moholola said: “The university notes the amendment in the admission criteria for degree admission, specifically the removal of the designated list, and welcomes the fact that more applicants will now be eligible for degree admission.
"Insofar as admission to UCT is concerned, the university has always credited performance in all official NSC subjects, and this will not change in the future,” Moholola said.
University of the Western Cape’s acting rector and vice-chancellor Professor Vivienne Lawack said they have not received a formal notice or communique from the Ministry or Department of Higher Education and Training, and would only be able to assess the situation once it had received formal communication.
Higher Education and Training spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele said the process had taken two years and Universities South Africa (USAf) was one of the three representatives in the small working group, which looked into issues.
“The Basic Education Department was requested by USAf to consider amending the minimum admission requirements for higher education certificates, diplomas and degrees as there were a number of subjects which were excluded from the designated list, but which were important for some learning and career pathways.
"The Basic Education minister commissioned research on this matter, and USAf was party to it. The research report was published in 2016, and researchers recommended that changes should be made to the minimum admission requirements."