The most popular fields of study in South Africa

Statistics South Africa has released its education enrolment and achievement statistics for 2017.

The report is based on Stats SA’s Community Survey (CS) 2016 data and includes information on the participation of learners at the primary/secondary and post-secondary phases, the number of high school and post-secondary graduates, and historical trends that compare various census data points to the CS 2016.

Some of the information is supplemented by data sourced from the General Household Survey (GHS), the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) and administrative records.

According to the report, 2.1 million adults aged 20 years and older have attained a tertiary qualification at a South African university – and with 503,096 graduates, Education comes out as the top field of study in the country.

This is followed by Business and Economics (439,719 graduates), Health (221,121) and Engineering (219,007).

A matter of age

166,224 (close to 8%) of South Africa’s university graduates are aged 20–24 – whereas the majority (close to 52%) are between 25 and 44 years old.

This is due to either the slow progress of students in the higher education system or the late entry of students in the higher education system, the report noted.

Computer and information sciences are mostly majors for younger graduates between 20 and 34 years old (close to 52%), whereas the field of education mostly had graduates aged 35 years and older (close to 81%).

Although close to 50% of graduates in the physical sciences and mathematics and statistics fields are in the age group 25–44, the low percentage of younger graduates in these fields of study is worrying, noted Stats SA

The reported also noted that although black Africans constitute half of the graduates, this group still lags behind in terms of educational attainment compared to whites (who constitute 37,2% of the graduates), and Indians/Asians and coloured (with both groups constituting 6,1% of the graduates).

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Read: 14-year-old to study at University of Pretoria

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The most popular fields of study in South Africa