Prospective students line up outside UNISA offices in Durban
Picture: Satish Dhupelia
Prospective students line up outside UNISA offices in Durban Picture: Satish Dhupelia

Bursting SA varsities say no to walk-ins

By THAMI MAGUBANE AND KAILENE PILLAY Time of article published Jan 10, 2020

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Durban - The top universities countrywide have warned hopeful first-year students they will not be accepting “walk-ins”, as their intake capacities are already bursting.

Some universities have received more than 10 times the number of applicants they can absorb.

With the release of the National Senior Certificate results on Wednesday, many students who were waiting to see how they performed are now likely to camp out at different universities in search of berths.

This has led annually to long, snaking queues and at times stampedes.

UCT received applications from 37700 first-year applicants, but can enrol only 4200.

UCT spokesperson Nombuso Shabalala said there would be no way to accept walk-ins. She said the university was putting in place processes for walk-in applicants to speak to an admissions counsellor and, if eligible, they would be assisted to register on the Department of Higher Education and Training’s Central Applications Clearing House system.

However, in managing the registration processes at the start of the academic year, as well as ensuring that the 2020 teaching programme got under way according to the set timetable, UCT would assess the situation day by day.

At the University of the Witwatersrand, 68752 applications were received for first-year studies, but it can absorb only 4900 students. It is not accepting late applications, but final offers are being made to top academic performers since the release of the matric results.

An education expert at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Dr Mlamuli Hlatshwayo, said the lack of university space proved there was a disjoint between basic and higher education.

He said even though more pupils were exiting high school, prepared and ready for university, there was no access, infrastructure or space to cater for them.

“That presents a myriad challenges and feeds into the unemployment problem in the country. They take gap years or do small courses, but they lose faith as they had their mind set on studying further,” Hlatshwayo said.

“This is a very frustrating period for those who earned their bachelor passes, but have nowhere to go.”

He said the department was trying to make Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges fashionable and trade courses appealing, “but it is just painful to see these students left out like this”.

He suggested that those not accepted at tertiary institutions complete short courses that would benefit them.

In KZN, the Durban University of Technology said it had only 8536 study spaces for first years.

“The university has received 114823 applications for the 2020 intake,” said communications manager Noxolo Memela. It would also not accept walk-in applications. All applicants who did not apply for DUT programmes were advised that applications had closed.

“Should there be spaces, late applications might be considered, with no guarantee of acceptance,” she said.

Memela said the minimum registration fee for 2020 was R4200. Registration at DUT would begin on Monday and run until January 31.

Ashton Bodrick, head of corporate relations at UKZN, said they had received 106270 applications.

“The university has 9043 spaces available for first-time applicants in undergraduate academic programmes,” he said.

By November 15, about 6100 provisional offers had been made to applicants. The final firm offers to those applicants who were offered a place to study at UKZN were to be made as soon as the results of the National Senior Certificate exams were are released.

The university would give priority to change-of-mind applicants. This involved those who had previously applied via the CAO and were now requesting the option to change courses or programmes.

Due to the high number of actual applications received, and the limited number of first-entry undergraduate places available, no late applications would be accepted.

Places in the most popular courses, such as Bachelor of Education, engineering, law, medicine, social work, science and nursing, were highly contested and based on selection.

Bodrick warned students and parents about unauthorised, false and misleading messages from unofficial and unknown sources/communication channels that falsely informed students that they had been accepted to study at UKZN, and had been offered residence.

He said: “Under no circumstances would the university send an email to undergraduate students requesting them to click on a link to accept an offer.

“Please note further that cash/payment should never be made to an individual promising to secure a place. All payments are to be made through the approved UKZN payment channels.”

Bheki Hlophe, media relations officer at Mangosuthu University of Technology, said 61863 applications were received. The target for 2020 was 4080.

“MUT does not accept walk-ins, and is still busy with their selections.”

The Mercury

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