Fewer opt to study at TVET colleges
Students mistakenly believe universities offer better prospects
CONCERNS have been raised over the low number of students who applied for funding to study at technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges despite the government’s plans to have more than two million students enrolled at these institutions.
Minister of Higher Education Naledi Pandor has announced the figures from this year’s application process for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for prospective students for next year.
“The 2019 application cycle has proceeded relatively smoothly, with more than 400 000 applications received between the opening of applications on September 3 and the closing of applications on December 3,” she said.
“On average, NSFAS received more than 3 200 applications a day over the period from September to December, with the number reaching as high as 30 000 a day over the last two weeks. Most of the applicants were females at 63% and males made up 36% of applicants. However, it is a concern that only 24% of the applications are from learners who wish to enrol at TVET colleges, with the balance of 74% being applications for universities.”
This cast doubt on the government’s goal of having 2.5 million students enrolled in TVET colleges by 2030. There are around 780 000 students registered to study at TVET colleges while universities have just under a million,perhaps because of a perception that one is more likely to get a job with a university qualification than with the predominantly vocational training most TVET colleges offer.
Ivan Swart, spokesperson for Northlink College, said the institution endeavours to make itself more attractive to prospective students by sharing its success stories and the variety of programmes it has to train and educate students.
“Some prospective students still think and perceive that having a university degree will give them a better future, but we have seen that students who have completed their studies with us have gone on to build successful businesses and even create other training and learning opportunities for others in their community,” he said.
“Northlink College has a Work Integrated Learning Department with strong relationships with various industry players and as a result we are assisting the students to gain workplace exposure by placing them with these industry leaders.”
Elbie Liebenberg, principal at distance learning vocational institution Oxbridge Academy, said the country continued to show a demand for qualified and skilled workers despite the sluggish economy.
She said there was still a disproportionate focus on gaining a university degree, despite hundreds of thousands of graduates are unable to find employment after spending years studying.
“Too many young people opt for generic degrees at universities, and then later find that they are not adequately prepared for the real world of work,” she said.
Applicants register to study at CPUT. There are concerns that few students are registering at technical and vocational education and training colleges. | David Ritchie