Opportunities for the Class of 2018 in the post-school education and training system

Our country is in great need of a skilled workforce that can contribute to an inclusive growth for all our people. This is the mandate of the Department of Higher Education and Training. Paramount in achieving this mandate is ensuring that students get access to and succeed in achieving the intermediate and high-level skills that are offered at TVET colleges.

TVET colleges play a pivotal role in addressing South Africa’s skills needs and cater for a wide spectrum and growing numbers of students. The colleges offer a myriad of diverse courses.

Education is an apex priority of government, technical and vocational education and training needs is the apex priority of post-school education and training. The focus of DHET is ensuring transformation, ensuring Colleges offer relevant and responsive curricula, that lecturers continually develop and update their skills and knowledge. The administration, management and governance of TVET colleges continually improves. The aim: to develop and produce employable young people with high quality occupational and vocational education and training skills. Government will continue to grow the system so that TVET colleges become institutions of choice. The College sector is expected ultimately to have significantly more students than the university sector.

In pursuit of the Department’s mandate in 2019, three new campuses will receive funding support from the fiscus enabling them to enrol more students. The planned headcount enrolments at these new campuses totals 3 620 as shown below:

Students who have completed Grade 9 or 12, the latter with a minimum of a Higher Certificate achievement can consider enrolling at one of 50 public TVET colleges. In 2019, there will be 322 438 new entrant opportunities provided by TVET colleges of which 102 648 opportunities will be available for students interested in studying towards a National Diploma in Engineering or Business Studies. Meanwhile, 215 129 new entrants’ opportunities will also be available across 19 programmes for the National Certificate (Vocational), providing both theory and practical experience in various vocational fields. The Pre-vocational Learning Programme (PLP), will enable students who do not meet the requirements for their programmes of choice to obtain the required knowledge and competencies to enrol in the next academic year. The PLP will enrol 4 661 students in 2019.

The occupationally directed programmes offered by TVET colleges are accredited by Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) under the auspices of the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO). In 2019, there will be a total of 70 600 opportunities in these programmes. Among these, are programmes offered through apprenticeship or learnership agreements between TVET colleges, employers and students. Part of the occupational programme enrolment is the Dual System Pilot Project (DSPP), which will have an intake of 146 electrician and plumber apprentices at the Eastcape Midlands and Ekurhuleni West TVET Colleges.

Centres of Specialisation

A very exciting and important pilot in 2019 is the Centres of Specialisation (CoS); a national programme aimed at building the capacity of the public TVET college system to deliver trade qualifications while building the much-needed skills for the Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs). The CoS programme will start in 2019 at 26 college sites nationally. These college sites will provide training in 13 critical trades and occupations that are in short supply for various infrastructure development and the economic needs of the country in general.

Each college site will take a minimum of 30 apprentices per the trade to be offered at that College. The programme will start in January 2019 with employers appointing 845 apprentices and sending them to colleges between February and March 2019. Four employer associations, namely, the Retail Motor Industry, Steel and Engineering Industry Federation, Institute of Plumbing and South African Institute of Welding, are part of this groundbreaking initiative.

University Education


Many of those who have met the entrance requirements for university study will be pursuing degrees, diplomas and higher certificates at one of our 26 public universities.

Recent changes in the policy on Minimum Admission Requirements for Higher Certificate, Diploma and Bachelor’s Degree requiring a National Senior Certificate have enabled entry into a Bachelor’s degree on the basis of any four 20 credit National Senior Certificate (NSC) subjects with an achievement of four (50–59%) or higher, as well as at least 30% in the language of learning and teaching at the higher education institution. Important to realise is that entrance requirement into university studies is linked to academic achievements in the NSC. While the minimum requirement to achieve a bachelor’s, diploma, or higher certificate pass in the NSC is set in policy; individual institutions and programmes set their own discipline specific entrance requirements.

In 2019, our 26 public universities will provide access to approximately 210 801 new entrants wishing to pursue their studies across all general, technical and professional fields including Business and Management, Science, Engineering, Agriculture and Technology, Humanities, Social Sciences, Arts and Education.

The mid-term review of the universities enrolment plan was completed early in 2017. All universities were required to consider their enrolments in terms of the fiscal realities and constraints, and to plan realistically. This ensures that the enrolment numbers targeted result in the optimum number of new students entering the system for the first time in 2018 and 2019 and are fully supported with the available infrastructure and with sufficient qualified lecturers and academics. The enrolment plan provides details of the enrolment targets for all fields of study; specifically for those scarce skills fields that support our country’s growth. These include Engineering Sciences, Life and Physical Sciences, Animal and Human Health Sciences, and Teacher Education. In 2019, of the 210 800 new entrants, approximately 69 776 students will be enrolling in these areas. The expected enrolments in these disciplines/programmes is projected as:

  • 17 028 in Engineering;
  • 14 356 in Life and Physical Sciences;
  • 11 510 in Human and Animal Health with:
  • -819 in Animal Sciences;

    -10 507 in Human Health;

    -184 in Veterinary Sciences;

  • 26 882 in initial Teacher Education programmes.
  • Universities have been requested not to over-enrol in 2019 as this could lead to overcrowding, poor quality of teaching and learning, and unsustainability within the university system.

    Since a tragic loss of life at the University of Johannesburg in 2012, walk-in applications at institutions have been discouraged, and through the Apply Now! Campaign, prospective students have been encouraged to make informed career choices and to apply on time. This campaign runs every year from March to September in conjunction with the Khetha Career Development Services. Hence, ensuring students who are intending to enter a university in 2019 have applied to the institution of their choice before the closing date.

    Fee-free higher education and training to poor and working-class students

    Over the past few years, our post-school system had experienced turmoil, as our youth demanded that government implement its policy to provide fee-free higher education and training to poor and working-class students. Government acknowledged their call, while condemning the violent protests and destruction of property. We trust that violent protests will come to an end and we can restore our campuses as places of intellectual engagement, learning and research.

    Our commitment has been to support as many academically deserving undergraduate students that require financial assistance as possible. In 2018, government announced substantial new funding to support poor and working-class students from families with a combined income of lower than R350 000 per annum. The new funding was introduced for first-time entry students in 2018 and will be continued for first-time entering students in 2019. This funding model will be completely phased in over five years. Firstly, students who qualify for funding must have applied for and been offered a place at a university. Secondly, stem from a family with a gross annual income of less than or up to R350 000 per annum. Any student that accepts the funding to study must sign a bursary agreement form and accept the conditions of the funding provided to receive their funding.

    National Student Financial Aid Scheme

    In 2018, there were challenges in implementing the new scheme as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme’s (NSFAS) system was inadequate to the task. NSFAS was put under administration in August 2018. The Administrator and his team have managed to get the scheme back on track and the Department has been assured that plans and processes are in place for 2019 to ensure that there will not be a repeat of previous challenges. Qualifying students, who have completed all the application requirements, will be in a position to have their funding confirmed early in the academic year to ensure that they have the best chance of success.

    While government has immensely invested in providing funding for poor and working-class students to support them in University or TVET studies, it is important that the private sector and other funders continue providing bursaries and scholarships to students studying in the university system. First-time entry students in 2019 who come from households with incomes of up to R350 000, but who have been awarded bursaries or scholarships from other funders, will not qualify for full NSFAS bursaries. However, NSFAS will consider financial aid to these students on a ‘top-up’ basis if they are not fully funded through their bursary or scholarship. NSFAS will work with universities to ensure that this is not abused and there is no “double dipping”.

    In January 2019, we have arranged through NSFAS to pay the registration or first fee instalment for all NSFAS qualifying students as an upfront payment to universities and TVET colleges. Therefore, NSFAS qualifying students will not pay any registration or upfront fees in 2019. All other students are expected to pay their upfront/registration fees.

    The issue of debt owed to universities by NSFAS qualifying students is being dealt with through a due diligence exercise implemented in 2018, and is currently being finalised. All institutions have been requested to register returning NSFAS qualifying students who meet the academic requirement but who still owe institutions fees in 2019 while this process is finalised. NSFAS qualifying students will be requested to sign an acknowledgement of debt form, similar to what was implemented in the 2018 academic year, enabling them to register. It is expected that this process will be finalised in the first quarter of the 2019 academic year.

    All universities have also been requested to continue implementing processes enabling academically successful students who have outstanding student debt to continue with their studies in 2019. However, the financial sustainability of the quality of universities will be at risk if students do not pay their fees and outstanding debts. Students who are academically deserving and struggling financially to pay their registration fees and/or outstanding debt must engage their university’s finance office to agree upon a repayment plan. Universities have been requested to manage student debt through fair and transparent debt management policies and processes to ensure that outstanding student debt is recovered over a reasonable and mutually acceptable period. The private sector and other funders are encouraged to help support deserving students, especially those who do not qualify for NSFAS funding, but require financial assistance to complete their studies.

    The NSFAS Administrator and his team have been working tirelessly ensuring a smooth registration period in 2019. NSFAS will work closely with financial aid offices at institutions to ensure that deserving students are provided with funding decisions as soon as possible.

    University students that qualify for the NSFAS bursary will receive funding for the actual tuition cost plus a set amount for study materials. Students may also qualify for subsidised accommodation and meals or transport capped at specific rates. Subsidised accommodation, meals or transport will be managed in terms of the accommodation and transport policy of institutions. Since there is insufficient university owned or managed accommodation available, not all students who qualify for a subsidy will be accommodated in university owned or managed accommodation. Guidelines for the management of student funding for poor and working-class students have been developed and will be implemented to ensure that the funding is effectively and efficiently managed to support poor and working-class students.

    Students who apply and qualify for bursaries will be required to sign a contract with NSFAS. The contract will have binding obligations. These include academic requirements as well as service requirements.

    Central Applications Clearing House

    Prospective first-time entry students who have applied for spaces in a university but have not been able to secure a space in their institution of choice will be referred to the Central Applications Clearing House (CACH) for assistance in finding another space in the PSET system. Students who did not apply at an institution can also utilise CACH for assistance. The CACH will go live on 4 January and will continue to operate until the end of February 2019.

    Learners looking for spaces at PSET institutions can contact the toll-free call centre on 0800 356 635, or send an SMS with their name, ID and contact number to 49200 and they will be contacted. They can also access the system via the website http://cach.dhet.gov.za or send an email to [email protected] The CACH service will verify the learner’s information and forward it to institutions that still have unfilled places. Where places exist, and applicants meet the admission requirements, institutions will contact learners to offer them available places.

    The 2019 CACH service is linked to the Khetha Helpline, which can provide further advice and assist anyone interested in pursuing higher education and training opportunities in the PSET system. Learners will be guided through possible alternative options at TVET colleges, artisan training and other skills development opportunities.

    We call on all prospective students who have not been able to secure a space in a PSET institution but who are interested in studying further in 2019, to register with the CACH to receive assistance. Do not waste your time rushing to campuses to try to register if you do not have a firm offer of a space. Increase your chances of finding a placement by contacting the CACH.

    Private Higher Education Institutions

    There are a total of 127 Private Higher Education Institutions (PHEIs) registered with the Department offering higher education and vocational programmes, across diverse fields of study, ranging from Higher Certificate to Doctoral studies through both distance and contact modes of delivery. The number of registered PHEIs changes from time-to-time, depending on the economy, the accreditation status of programmes and compliance with regulations. The Department monitors the system to ensure ongoing compliance and publishes an updated register of Registered PHEIs on a monthly basis on the Department’s website. This Register includes details of the accredited programmes the private Institution may legally offer, as well as accredited sites of delivery. All prospective students wishing to study at a PHEI need to check the register to ensure that the institution is operating legally, and is accredited to offer the particular programme. While PHEIs operating legally play an important role within the higher education sector and offer credible and quality programmes, there are a number of ‘bogus’ institutions that continue to advertise unregistered and unaccredited programmes to unsuspecting students. Also check that the programme you wish to register for at a legally registered PHEI is accredited by the Council on Higher Education.

    Private Colleges

    The Department has registered a large number of private colleges ensuring these private colleges provide quality education and training to students. Some private colleges operate without being registered. To close down unregistered private education and training institutions, the Department is working closely with the South African Police Service and other law-enforcement authorities.

    The Department advises students who want to enrol at private colleges to check the registration status of such private colleges with the Department through its toll-free number: 0800 87 22 22. Alternatively, students can log on to the website of the Department where the ‘Register of Private Colleges’ is published and updated on a regular basis. The website address is www.dhet.gov.za/resources/registers.

    Students living with special needs

    The Department is committed to expanding access and success for students living with special needs in PSET institutions. To this end, NSFAS has a special fund to support students living with disabilities. This fund can be utilised to provide assistive devices as well as financial support for tuition, learning materials and living expenses. Students living with disabilities from families with gross family incomes of up to R600 000 may qualify for support, provided they are admitted into and are registered at a university.

    The Department is also committed to improving the capacity of TVET colleges to accommodate and serve students with disabilities by developing the funding model for students with disabilities. The National Guidelines will provide greater clarity regarding the provision of integrated and holistic support to students in the TVET college sector and will set minimum standards for an inclusive teaching and learning approach to support students in all aspects of students’ college life, including academic life, arts, sports and culture.

    Furthermore, this holistic approach takes into account the built environment, the use of specialised technology, training in appropriate pedagogies as well as capacity building of lecturers. Currently, about 20% of colleges enrol and cater for students with disabilities. The intention is to grow provision by 5% annually.

    Artisan Learnerships and Apprenticeships

    The National Development Plan furthermore requires that by 2030 at least 30 000 qualified artisans be produced per year. In South Africa, there is a growing trend of learners, who have completed their NSC and utilised learnership or apprenticeship opportunities to become artisans in the civil, mechanical, electrical, manufacturing or support services career fields.

    Learners who wish to pursue this route, must continue to seek and utilise a SETA or National Skills Fund (NSF) funded artisan learnership or apprenticeship opportunity to access artisan training in the various fields of engineering and services areas.

    Learners who have an inclination to become artisans, such as a motor mechanic, plumber, electrician, hairdresser, among others, can register at the National Artisan Development Support Centre (NADSC) at INDLELA by going to their website: http://nadsc.dhet.gov.za calling the NADSC call centre on 086 999 0125 or by emailing copies of their qualifications to [email protected] or [email protected]

    SETAs will be providing 93 685 opportunities in various learning programmes such as learnerships, bursaries, skills programmes, apprenticeship, etc.

    They can also approach any of the Student Support Services’ offices at any of the public TVET colleges or the Khetha Career Development Services at the Department for more information.

    It is critical to note that to be accepted into an artisan-training programme in a technical field, a learner must have passed Mathematics with a minimum mark of 50% and a pass in Science.

    Out-of-school youth who wish to enter the world of work, or need to increase their skills capabilities, can also consider the options of learnerships, apprenticeships and skills programmes.

    TVET colleges also offer occupationally directed programmes that are accredited by SETAs under the auspices of the QCTO. Among these, are programmes that are offered through apprenticeship or learnership agreements between the student, TVET colleges and employers.

    National Skills Fund

    The NSF will continue to invest directly in TVET colleges and will assist with the funding of ±15 000 learners per annum in occupationally directed programmes linked to scarce and critical skills areas, especially with regards to artisan development.

    The NSF will also be funding significant quality improvements in the TVET college sector, of which the following can be noted:

    -development of a foundational learning programme to improve learner throughput;

    -creation of CoS for 13 priority trades nationally in the TVET colleges; and

    -providing connectivity to TVET college campuses nationally through the South African National Research Network.

    The NSF has, for the 2019 academic year, provisionally allocated more than R580 million towards undergraduate bursaries. Students must be enrolled in scarce and critical skills areas related to priority occupations. Based on this preliminary allocation, the NSFAS will award undergraduate bursaries, and students wishing to use these bursaries are advised to enrol for critical skills study programmes. As a strategic initiative, the NSF will also support students selected through the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants programme studying towards the Certificate for Theory in Accounting.

    The NSF is also committed to expanding access and success in our institutions for students who have special needs. The NSF will be supporting Blind SA to benefit 50 learners totalling R3.1 million, Higher Education and Training HIV/AIDS Programme to the amount of R36 million targeting university and TVET students, and the SA Disability Trust to benefit 1 614 learners totalling R29.2 million.

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