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What Government Has Planned For The 2023 Academic Year

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Over the next few weeks, thousands of students will enroll in institutions of higher learning as the 2023 academic year gets underway. The minister of higher education is confident that the sector is ready for the administration of the 2023 academic year.

What Government Has Planned For The 2023 Academic Year

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) wants to ensure that all students enjoy a safe and secure campus environment when the 2023 academic year gets underway. The department will introduce several measures to ensure students are safe.

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The minister of higher education and training, Blade Nzimande, briefed the media on Tuesday 24 January on the state of readiness for the Post School Education and Training (PSET) Sector for the 2023 academic year.

Nzimande said that it was impossible to talk about readiness for the new academic year without talking about student safety. This includes addressing Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the PSET sector.

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The minister noted several incidents of GBV on campus. Some of these incidents of GBV lead to the brutal murder of several female students. The DHET will be working with higher health to implement programmes to address sexual and gender-based violence at campuses.

In an attempt to find a solution to the problem, a new ministerial task team has been set up to fight GBV in universities across South Africa.

Part of the efforts to combat GBV is the launch and championing of a new initiative called Transforming MENtalities Initiative. The initiative aims to mobilise men to play their part in creating a world free of GBV. Further information on this will be provided by the minister in due course.

The minister congratulated the Matric grade 12 class of 2022 on achieving 80,1% in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams.

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More than 922,000 learners participated in the 2022 National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams. Of the learners who successfully passed, 278,815 achieved a bachelor’s pass, 197,357 achieved a diploma pass, and 108,159 achieved a higher certificate pass.

Matriculants were encouraged to consider the wide range of different pathways available to them including furthering their education, leadership, internships and apprenticeships in artisanal trades.

The minister also called on prospective students to consider enrolling in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programmes. The department is expecting  556,450 students to enrol in TVET college programmes in 2023.

The TVET sector plans hopes to increase access to students by offering both physical and online classes. The minister also revealed plans which will see the standardisation of registration and admission processes at colleges.

This includes the standardisation of issuing certificates. Additionally, this standardisation will assist the department move  from manual to online registration in all TVET colleges

While they are satisfied with the increasing popularity of TVET colleges as a viable option for students, their enrollment numbers are around half of the number of students that are expected to enrol in academic programmes at universities.

The overall total enrolments within the public university sector are projected to be 1,112,439 spaces for the 2023 academic year. This is an additional increment of 41,545 spaces from the 2022 academic year.

It is estimated that 655,427 female students will study at universities in 2023 while males account for 412,428 students.

While the minister says the advancement of women must be embraced, they noted their concern about the declining participation of male students pursuing further education opportunities.

Universities are expected to welcome more than 208,000 first-time students in 2023. It is projected that 69,069 of the first-time students will enrol in scarce skills programmes.

The minister also announced that Central Applications Clearing House (CACH) will open for applications from 27 January until 31 March 2023. Students who matriculated from the year 2000 onwards and have not received firm offers from tertiary institutions will be eligible to apply.

The CASH system provides information to students on which other universities have space in the programmes they are interested in.

It was also revealed that the total student debt has grown to approximately R16.5 billion. This debt comes at a cost of R1.5 billion per annum to the government.

The minister is therefore hopeful that a Comprehensive Student Funding model will be introduced before the end of the current financial year.

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