How many #Matric2017 students qualify to study at university

The Matric class of 2017 is celebrating an improvement on last year’s overall pass rate but that figure only tells one side of the story.

As a new set of Matriculants prepares to start the final stretch of their secondary education – the class of 2017 will be looking at furthering their education and while this year 75.1% of the 802 431 learners passed, less than a third passed well enough to study a Bachelor’s degree.

The National Senior Certificate Examination Report 2017 published by the Department of Basic education reveals that only 28.7% of school leavers qualify to study a Bachelor’s degree.

While this number is low it is on the rise. Since 2015 the Bachelor’s Pass rate has been climbing.

The big question however, is can universities accommodate all these learners and should we see a Bachelor Pass rate as high as the overall pass rate, would universities be able to accommodate them?

We need space, man

A total of 802 431 students wrote the NSC exams last year. Of those 28.7% secured a Bachelor’s Pass or 230 297 students.

A report by City Press earlier this week revealed how many first year students were being accepted by universities around South Africa. The table below outlines how many spaces each university in South Africa has available.

Institution Available Spaces
University of Cape Town 4200
University of Western Cape 4500
Tshwane University of Technology 15000
Wits 6200
Rhodes University 1643
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University 6500
University of Johannesburg 10500
Walter Sisulu University 7500
University of Fort Hare 5542
University of Zululand 5000
Stellenbosch University 5000

In total, South African universities can accommodate approximately 71 585 students.

Simply put there is just not enough space for even half of the students that qualified to study a degree at a university.

There are of course other options. Unisa for instance can accommodate a greater number of learners that wish to study a Bachelor’s degree.


There are also a number of alternatives to education such as colleges and institutions that focus on developing niche skills such as graphic design or movie production.

If you are unsure about a particular institution you can verify that they are accredited with the correct bodies such as SAQA. You can find a guide on how to verify a college’s credentials here.

The important thing to note is that we have choices here in South Africa and if a student doesn’t have a university to go to there are other ways of improving your education.

The elephant in the room now is President Jacob Zuma’s promise of free education. While many are debating how this will be funded, we do wonder how these universities would house all of the would-be students who qualify.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]

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