Universities open for new academic year

Monday, February 5, 2018

Thousands of university students are getting ready to tackle the 2018 academic year as public universities open their doors for learning. 

This year, universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges will see an increase in the number of first-year students following the free education announcement by President Jacob Zuma for poor and working class South African undergraduate students. 

Starting this year, qualifying students in their first year of study at public universities and TVET colleges will benefit from fully subsidised free higher education and training. 

Making the announcement in December 2017, President Zuma said free education – for students from homes with a combined annual income of up to R350 000 -- will be introduced in a phased-in approach over a period of five years. 

He said that the policy intervention will enable government to extend fully subsidised free higher education to youth from well over 90% of South African households. 

“From 2018 onwards, eligible South African children of the unemployed, social grant recipients, South Africans earning below the minimum wage, domestic workers, farm workers, mine workers and entry level civil servants such as teachers, nurses, policemen, municipal workers, security guards, refuse collectors and informal traders, amongst others, will now access public universities and TVET colleges for free through grants provided by government,” President Zuma said in a statement issued at the time. 

The President also announced that there will be no tuition fee increment for students from households earning up to R600 000 a year during the 2018 academic year. 

National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) packages already allocated to existing NSFAS students in their further years of study will be converted from loans to 100% grants, effective immediately. 

191 000 students eligible for NSFAS grant 

During a recent meeting, where Higher Education and Training Minister Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize hosted education stakeholders, NSFAS CEO Steven Zwane announced that about 191 000 students are eligible for the NSFAS grant in the category of diplomas and certificates to be done via TVET colleges. 

At the meeting, Zwane also assured Minister Mkhize that 80 0000 university students would be funded, and 250 000 TVET students would be funded.

Use CACH to get a place at varsity 

Meanwhile, the Department of Higher Education and Training has urged Grade 12 learners, who passed matric in 2017 but have not yet secured a place at a university or college, to use the Central Applications Clearing House (CACH) system.   

CACH is the department’s online application portal designed for Grade 12 students, who are seeking admission to post-school education and training (PSET). 

The service assists prospecting students by sharing their matric results with public and private further and higher education institutions across the country, including TVET colleges, universities, Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and registered private higher institutions. 

The service opened on 5 January 2018 and will close on 28 February 2018. 

CACH also provides a portal for school leavers and other prospective students, who may not have completed their schooling, to access career information, advice and development services. 

Matriculants can access CACH’s easy-to-use website at cach.dhet.gov.za or call the toll-free number 0800 356 635 or send a SMS with their name and ID to 49200 or to find CACH on Facebook: www.facebook.com/CACH _S.A. 

For students who remain unclear about which career to follow, CACH provides advice and information through the department’s Khetha Career Development Service website at www.careerhelp.org.za. – SAnews.gov.za

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