Perception of TVET colleges discouraging student enrollment

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Over 900 000 learners set for the 2022 matric exams and those who progressed carry with them the prospects of getting a seat at one of the 26 universities, 50 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) or the scores of independent institutions across South Africa.

TVETs boast more than 364 campuses countrywide, serving around 800 000 students per annum, and were introduced as Further Education and Training (FET) colleges with the aim to tackle the skills shortage in South Africa.

These colleges focus on providing vocational and occupational education and training preparing students to become functional workers in skilled trade. Additionally, students who opt for TVET colleges may qualify for a National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) bursary, as these are government owned entities.

However, a recent SABC News twitter poll viewed by 5 674 people and with 377 votes showed that many are wary of TVET institutions, with 24.1% saying they would opt for TVET colleges, while 43.8% would enrol at universities, 27.6% saying both and 4.5% saying neither.

Professor in the School of Education at UKZN Phumlani Myende says the reluctance is also caused by how communities perceive degrees versus diplomas versus certificate qualifications.

Myende says, “If I can go to a place where I can get a diploma or a degree why would I go to a place that is going to give me a certificate? That is one of the reasons why young people are found to be reluctant to go to TVET colleges.”

He also says, “Someone who is in a university is given a high status by the community, by family members, by the friends and by other young people, than someone who goes to a TVET college.”

The reluctance is also caused by how society perceives TVET certificates said Myende.

According to the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, TVET colleges plan to enrol 497 032 for 2023 for ministerial approved programmes with additional 59 383 enrolment for programmes funded through other funding sources.

The total planned TVET placement for 2023 sits at 556 415.

TVET colleges can be vehicles to employability
Whereas universities only have capacity to accommodate only 200 000 first year students, despite the fact that for first year enrolments for 2023, there are 278 814 who qualify for an admission into bachelor courses at universities.

Education expert Professor Mary Metcalfe says government has sought to increase the number of universities in the country, and has already built some.

Metcalfe says, ” Many people have argued that instead of growing more universities, or rather than making that a priority on its own because it must be a priority – we need to increase the number and the quality of students who attend TVET colleges because we have got to get the balance right.”

Gauteng is home to 7 universities, KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape have 4 universities, while North West, the Free State having 2, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape each having 1 university each.

Universities in the country fall under 3 categories, traditional universities offering theoretical degrees, technology universities offering vocational education, and comprehensive universities which offer a combination of academic and vocational diplomas and degrees.

The capacity of each university varies from province to province.

Student placement in the country is however assisted by the many independent colleges who serve as a net for learners who either do not have the credits, are left out due to limited space or opt for them because of convenience.

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