New proposals to get more South Africans into university

The Department of Higher Education and Training is considering a new ‘articulation policy’ which aims to better align the country’s universities, technical colleges and other education institutions with one another.

This includes a proposed revamp of the post-school education sector and the recognition of qualifications across a wider range of institutions.

“A well-articulated system is one in which there are linkages between its different parts; there should be no silos, no dead ends,” the department said.

“If a student completes a course at one institution and has gained the relevant knowledge and skills at the necessary levels, this must be recognised by other institutions if the knowledge gained is sufficient to allow epistemological access to programmes that the student wants to enter.”

In a presentation on the policy document this week, the Council for Higher Education (CHE) said that one of the biggest problems currently facing the system is the inability for many college TVET students to move into university studies (higher education).

There are currently regulations in place which govern the minimum requirements for admission to universities through the National School Certificate.

However, there are no national regulatory frameworks governing enrolment into higher education from the TVET sector.

“This means that admissions into higher education through the TVET sector route is at the mercy of universities, it said. It said that these institutions can have different criteria and may also differ between faculties and departments.

“As a result, admissions to universities through the TVET route still very small and less than 3,000 students for all 26 universities in 2018,” the CHE said.

To address these issues, the CHE has tabled a number of proposals to better align the two sectors including:

  • Establishing regulations like the ones governing admission to higher education from the school system;
  • Establishing and incentivising (or sanctioning) universities to accept students from TVET colleges;
  • Allowing applications through the Central Applications Service (CAS) Bill which was released last year. The primary aim of the service is to offer advice and serve as a single application channel for students applying for post-school education and training (PSET) opportunities;
  • A review of the Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework (HEQSF) which regulates qualification & learning programme offerings in higher education;
  • Universities should assist and build capacity in the TVET sector by training curriculum development specialists for the sector, training education management specialists for the sector. Universities should also increase the production of teacher graduates/educators in technical subject areas;
  • A structural reform which removes a ‘hierarchy’ of institutions which sees universities as superior as opposed to being adjacent.

Read: Updated school calendars show slow return to ‘normal’ in South Africa

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New proposals to get more South Africans into university