Demand for student placements spikes at universities

The Cape Peninsula University of Technology received a high number of applications from students. File picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

The Cape Peninsula University of Technology received a high number of applications from students. File picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Feb 5, 2023


Applications to study at tertiary education institutions across the province have spiked reaching up to 360 000 at one institution which had limited study spaces available.

Following a high matric pass rate of 80.1%, the number of applications for those eligible to study at institutions of higher learning also rose.

This week the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) said it was all systems go for funding for eligible students and the budget now was at R47.6 billion.

Universities would receive R38.6 billion while R8.9bn was allocated to Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) colleges.

Some universities said they were also prepared to meet the accommodation needs of first-year students who had started pouring in this week.

The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) said of the 360 000 applications received, it could offer just under 9 000 first-year students places.

CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley said the institution would be able to offer accommodation to 43% of its student population compared to last year’s 39.8%.

“We have a surplus of residence spots available,” said Kansley .

She added that the institution had about 18 500 beds and if the need arose, students would be accommodated at accredited facilities with existing relationships with the university.

At UWC, up to 100 000 applications for first-year places were received for only 4 500 available spaces.

UWC spokesperson Gasant Abarder said the institution had increased its bed capacity from 3 300 to 6 000.

“Our 2 700-bed capacity Unibell student residence will be available to accommodate students this year ... all available space will be used,” said Abarder. He added that should there be extra demand, the university would explore other options to secure additional accommodation.

UCT also increased its accommodation capacity in 2021 when it opened the Avenue residence.

Said UCT Spokesperson Elijah Moholola, “ Students who have not received residence offers are assisted with securing off-campus accommodation”.

Stellenbosch University (SU) also recorded a high number of applications and accommodation this year.

Spokesperson Martin Viljoen said the university received about 73 000 first-year applications for undergraduate programmes and made approximately 12 000 conditional offers.

“SU can enrol approximately 5 615 first-year undergraduate students and almost 15 000 first-year applications for residence.

“We can accommodate approximately 2 000 first-years in residence beds. However, we have private accredited accommodation available to cover the shortfall,” said Viljoen.

However, plans by NSFAS to take over the administration of student accommodation this year had yet to materialise.

All universities confirmed that they would handle the accommodation and would receive funding from NSFAS for eligible students.

The South African Union of Students said it was happy with the readiness of institutions and the increase in student allowances.

Through its Sizofunda Ngenkani campaign, the EFF Student Command was on hand to help students on campuses to deal with challenges.

Secretary-general Zwangu Dambo said one of the student body’s plans was to focus on the safety needs of students.

“In some areas, student accommodation is far from the campus, thus putting students in danger,” he said.

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