Flood of new matrics besiege varsities

Two Johannesburg universities were flooded this week by unprecedented numbers of students seeking late admission. Speculation is that this follows last week’s huge matric increase in the number of students qualifying for university entrance.

On Monday, about 45 000 students turned up at the University of Johannesburg—30 000 at the Kingsway Campus and another 15 000 at other UJ campuses, including Soweto.
Eyewitness News reported that UJ security escorted many people off the campus and the university’s management held a “crisis meeting”.

When the Mail & Guardian visited the Kingsway campus on Tuesday morning, a long queue of more than 2 000 young people snaked around the campus. At the University of the Witwatersrand, there were fewer applicants on the main campus—but this university too had far more students seeking late admission than in previous years.

Wits deputy registrar Carol Crosley told the M&G that the university had received a flurry of enquiries about late applications but had accepted only 300 of these. Wits had places for only 5 500 new first-year students so the entrance requirements were even stricter for late applicants, she said.

At the much more pressured UJ, vice-chancellor Ihron Rensburg told the M&G: “It’s a desperate situation for these applicants. At best we have 1 500 to 2 000 places available for these walk-in [that is, late] applicants. There are similar situations at TUT [Tshwane University of Technology] and at Wits.”

There had been “a flood of students trying to apply both yesterday and today and my feeling is that it is related to the improved matric results”, Rensburg said.

In last week’s results, 23.5% of matriculants achieved university-entrance passes (up from 19% in 2009)—one of the many increases the figures showed within an steep 7,2% hike in the overall pass rate (67,8%—up from 60,6% in 2009).

Some in the long queue told the M&G they had received no response from the university to their applications last year. “I applied last year and when I tried following up with the university I was told to come in and reapply as my application had been lost,” said Zain Janse van Rensburg.

“I’ve been here since six this morning so I want to get this sorted soon,” he added.

His desperation was echoed by Boitumelo Shalang, who had been camping outside the university since 5am on Tuesday. “My first application was rejected and I was told to reapply once my final matric results came through. All I can do is wait to get inside.”

Other applicants told the M&G they had been coming to the university every day without much success since they received their matric results. Said Thando Sibeko: “I decided to come here at four this morning, after getting nowhere since Friday. I applied last year but received no response so I decided to come and sort it out in person.”

But Rensburg said he had a “high degree of confidence” in UJ’s admissions system and it was “highly unlikely” that application documents would have been lost.

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