Applications outstrip places by thousands
Florence Manyaga from Thohoyandou, Limpopo, drained and tired as she sat on the concrete floor with her head resting on her knees.
Manyaga, 45, is among hundreds of parents and prospective students who have been sleeping in a tent outside the registration area at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) Soshanguve campus, north of Pretoria.
Institutions of higher education and learning are battling with students who flock to them with the hope of securing a space to further their studies this time of the year.
Students had formed a snake queue outside the busy registration area and locals came out in numbers to sell food to desperate students accompanied by their parents.
Manyaga said she hadn't had a decent sleep or a bath for three days when Sowetan visited the area on Thursday.
"For the past three days, we have been eating bread and a drink. The only bath I have had is just to wash my face with the little water I get from the hawkers. My child applied last year with no response and on Monday we decided to come here.
"I did not know that I would spend the next couple of days sleeping in an open space. No one is giving us proper direction and the treatment we are getting here is not fair."
Pamela Rikhotso, 17, from Giyani said she applied online for language practice last year.
"I have been here since Friday [the week before] and I am yet to register. I did not think getting to university was this difficult. I had to buy a blanket on the second day because it gets really cold but I have hope that I will finally register."
Like at TUT, the number of undergraduate applications has increased.
The University of Johannesburg (UJ) already had 179,673 applicants at the end of September. UJ spokesperson Herman Esterhuizen said the number was 50,000 more than the previous year.
"UJ is constantly receiving more and more applications. Currently, we are in the process of registrations and the 2020 intake will comprise approximately 10,500 first-year undergraduate students entering the university for the first time," Esterhuizen said.
The Vaal University of Technology (VUT), which is currently under administration, had over 20,000 students who applied to register for this academic year.
VUT spokesperson Mike Khuboni said their registrations were running smoothly as planned.
"We have not as yet experienced any challenges except that from National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) delays."
Wits University registrar Carol Crosley said they had received 67,000 applications for 4,978 first-year places.
"As most tertiary institutions in South Africa face the challenge of lack of affordable student accommodation, the university has a capacity of 6,362 on-campus beds .
"We do, however, have 34 accredited properties off campus with a bed capacity of 8,770. The rates. are capped in accordance with NSFAS rates. There are also properties that are below the NSFAS rate," Crosley said.
Meanwhile, minister of higher education and training Blade Nzimande last week said the 26 public universities can only accommodate about 201,042 new entrants who will be pursuing degrees, diplomas and higher certificates.
Nzimande said there were 226,685 new entrant opportunities provided by Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.
"The mandate of the department is to develop a skilled and capable workforce. TVET colleges play a pivotal role in addressing SA's skill needs and cater for a wide spectrum and growing numbers of students."
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