Universities have been requested not to over-enrol in 2020 to ensure the appropriate infrastructure and human resources for the number of students in the system, the quality of teaching and learning and the sustainability of the university system.
Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, made the call on Thursday when he was briefing the media on the implications of matriculation results on the Post School Education and Training sector in South Africa.
The briefing focused mainly on the availability of spaces and opportunities at South African universities and colleges.
Nzimande announced that this year, the country's 26 public universities will provide access to approximately 201 042 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, the Arts and Education.
The Minister explained that all universities were required to consider their enrolments in terms of the fiscal realities and constraints, and to plan realistically, making sure that the enrolment numbers targeted, resulted in the optimum number of new students entering the system for the first time in 2020.
He added that the universities should be fully supported through available infrastructure and sufficient qualified lecturers and academics, and within the constraints of the funding available for bursaries for poor and working-class students.
"The enrolment plan provides details of the enrolment targets for all fields of study, and specifically for those scarce skills fields that support our country's growth, such as Engineering Sciences, Life and Physical Sciences, Animal and Human Health Sciences, and Teacher Education," Nzimande said.
Of the 201 042 new entrants, approximately 66 764 students will be enrolling in these areas:
16 152 in Engineering programmes;
16 948 in Life and Physical Sciences programmes;
10 912 in Human and Animal Health programmes of which 906 in Animal Sciences programmes, 9 796 in Human Health programmes, and 210 in Veterinary Sciences programmes; and
22 752 in initial Teacher Education programmes.
He noted that while the overall number of spaces in the university system for 2020 is 201 041, the universities are expected to enrol a 2% range of this figure.
"It is also important to note that the audited data for 2018 shows that of the first time entering intake, 21% of students enrolled for certificates, 24% for diplomas, and 55% for degrees.
"The certificates would mostly be foundation type higher certificates that students who received bachelors or diploma passes, but did not get the entry requirements for their programme of choice, could enter into," the Minister said.
Central Applications Clearing House
Meanwhile, prospective students who have applied for spaces in university but have not been able to secure space are encouraged to make use of the Central Applications Clearing House (CACH) system for assistance in finding space in the Post-School Education and Training (PSET) system.
The CACH service was developed to assist learners who are eligible for higher education studies and have applied for space at a University but is not their first choice after matric results have been released.
"The CACH went live on the 14 January 2020 and will continue to operate until the 28 February 2020," Nzimande.
CACH can be accessed through the toll-free call centre 0800 356 635, or send an SMS with their name, ID and contact number to 42900 and they will be called back.
Alternatively CACH can be accessed on their website (http://cach.dhet.gov.za) or email at (CACH@dhet.gov.za).