South Africa will soon welcome two new institutions of higher learning to its already-existing 26 public universities. This is one part of the plans the Department of Higher Education is developing to expand the Tertiary Education Sector.
South Africa may soon have two new universities, according to the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).
Although these two universities are still within the planning stages, Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, says that South Africa can expect these institutions to be finalised in the next 1 – 1.5 years.
The introduction of these additional tertiary institutions is part of the Department’s plans to expand the Tertiary Education Sector.
Since 1994, according to the Minister, university student intake has “more than doubled”, meaning more of South Africa’s youth are wanting to access higher education.
While this is welcomed news, the current infrastructure of the country’s universities and colleges is not prepared for the “massive” increase over the last 28 years. In fact, the increase in student enrollments happened much faster than the Department anticipated.
The two higher learning institutes, however, are intended to address the country’s persistent skills shortage.
The new University of Science and Innovation will focus on science and innovation disciplines, including STEM subjects like:
- Data Science
- Artificial intelligence
- Hydrogen-powered technologies such as smart transportation and logistics systems
The second university will concentrate on detecting and preventing crime, meant to improve the quality of the South African Police Service’s general and specialized investigations (SAPS).
Nzimande says that the eruption of student protests earlier this year is indicative of the demand to access higher education. However, even though there is a clear demand, higher education is not cheap and is a journey many households in South Africa cannot afford.
To assist students who come from poorer backgrounds and who would like to attend a university or college, the DHET has created and implemented the NSFAS bursary.
Students who are recipients of this bursary have their tuition fees covered, as well as other study expenses such as the cost of rent and study materials like laptops and textbooks.
Additionally, more students enrolling in tertiary educations means that more students have made it past matric. South Africa has a shockingly high school drop-out rate, which indicates that “only 6% of learners who start Grade One end up going to university.”
Particularly, students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds now have access to study opportunities, Black and female students. The Minister stated that “more than 60% of university students are female”.
The DHET added that is has plans to increase university enrollments to 1.62 million students by 2030.