The University Of KwaZulu Natal Howard Campus. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng
The University Of KwaZulu Natal Howard Campus. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng

Universities reveal their most popular fields students applied for in 2021

By Janine Moodley Time of article published Mar 12, 2021

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Durban - PURSUING tertiary studies in education, medicine and science were the preferred choices among students who applied at three of the country’s top universities.

Durban - PURSUING tertiary studies in education, medicine and science were the preferred choices among students who applied at three of the country’s top universities.

At UKZN, a degree in education was the most popular choice, while medicine was the top application at Stellenbosch University. A degree in science received the most applications at Wits University.

Normah Zondo, the spokesperson for UKZN, said while the university had places for 10 000 first-year students, it received more than 112 500 applications.

Of that number, the most popular choice was for a Bachelor of Education. UKZN has places for 1 440 students for the course but received 33 000 applications.

The second most popular was medicine. The university has 250 places for medical school (MBChB, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) but it received 7 910 applications.

Zondo was unable to confirm the number of applicants for the law degree but said it was the third most popular. UKZN can accommodate 430 first-year students.

“Places in these programmes are highly contested and admission numbers are generally very limited,” said Zondo.

She said there was a waiting list and a quota system for first-year applications for medicine.

“The quota system is 69% African, 19% Indian, 9% coloured, 2% white and 1% other. The minimum requirements are a minimum weighted aggregate of 65% plus maths, physical science, life sciences and English. All must be on level 5 and life orientation at level 4.”

Zondo said the oversight committee had met and offers were being made to prospective students.

“If the offer is declined, it will then be offered to the next student on the waiting list.”

Registration is expected to start on March 8. It will close on April 1 for both first-year students and the 34 000 returning students.

“A virtual parents’ day will be held on March 13 and a virtual orientation week will take place when semester 1 commences on March 23. All learning and registration will be remote and online until further notice, with the exception of required laboratory work, teaching and clinical practicals.”

Stellenbosch University has recorded the highest applications for medicine (4 700), life sciences (3 800) and law (2 800).

Martin Viljoen, the spokesperson for the university, said: “There are only a set number of students that can be taken in for these courses. Only 290 for MBChB, 240 for BSc (human life sciences) and 120 for LLB (law).”

He said the medical faculty followed a guideline when it selected students.

“Matriculant applicants are selected based on a merit list of applicants, who are ranked according to academic merit. Final offers are sent to applicants who were provisionally accepted to the programme in 2020. Applicants who were not provisionally accepted in 2020 are placed on a waiting list and ranked according to their final NSC or equivalent results (academic merit).

“Cancellations are replaced from this waiting list, based on ranking, while maintaining the demographic profile of the first-year intake, provided there is a place in the programme. We select off the waiting list until we have filled the class of 290 students. The waiting list is closed two weeks after the commencement of classes. That is March 26.”

Stellenbosch University’s classes for undergraduate students start on March 15. These exclude students in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Science.

Buhle Zuma, spokesperson for Wits University said a Bachelor degree in Science received the most applications with 18 366 applicants.

Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery received 13 549 applications and Bachelor of Laws received 10 699 applications.

In total, the university received 71 409 applications for first-year studies this year.

Wits, said Zuma, has about 5 100 spaces available.

Of those spaces, the university was able to accommodate 230 first-year medical students.

Zuma said Wits University’s admissions policy of medical students sought to ensure that talented learners from poor and marginalised backgrounds were also granted access.

“While access is still based on merit, about 40 seats are allocated to high-performing learners from quintile one and two schools and 40 seats to learners from rural areas.

“Compared to similar universities, Wits has a greater proportion of students from poor and marginalised backgrounds with the majority of black students passing without issue. This success is also due to the student support programmes based in the faculty and the university.”

Classes are expected to commence on March 8.

Zuma advised first-years to join a programme designed by the university to help with the transition.

“University is a wonderful and life-changing experience. One of the first steps to success is to participate in the O-Week programme which introduces students to university life and key academic and social student support services.

“Students are encouraged to join the First Year Experience, a year-long programme which assists first-years with the transition from high school to university.”

Elijah Moholola, the spokesperson for UCT, was unable to confirm the most popular course. He did, however, say there was a significant increase in applicants.

“The total number of prospective first-time entering undergraduate students, who have applied to study at UCT in 2021, is 44 600, an increase of about 42%.”

He said the delay in registration, as a result of the impact of Covid-19, caused the university to consider applications from prospective first-year students on the basis of their Grade 11 final results and/or September/trial examination results.

“These were used to make early conditional offers of admission. Firm offers have been made since the release of the matric results.”

Registration for first-time entering undergraduate students was set to take place from yesterday. Lectures are expected to start from March 15.

“The university will pursue a physically distanced, low-density campus approach to teaching. Senate has decided that all undergraduate courses be offered via a combination of online lectures and face-to-face activities in small groups. This is to mitigate the risk of the spread of Covid-19 during this second wave, and in preparation for a possible third wave.”

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