BD Tertiary Education June 2021

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JUNE 2021




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he journey to higher learning, while exhilarating, is seldom without its challenges. Students have plenty to overcome before they even arrive in the lecture hall – from choosing the right subject for a chosen career to finding the funds to pay for a qualification. The rising cost of education, which often includes accommodation, excludes many

aspirant students from further study. Access to funding is an ongoing challenge, and the pandemic has exacerbated the financial strain experienced by many households. The journey to higher learning should be open to everyone, not just those with the means to pay. Anél Lewis, Editor

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SCHOOL AND CAREER GUIDANCE The National Senior Certificate, be it from the Department of Education or the Independent Examination Board, marks the culmination of at least 12 years of schooling and the gateway to further study


FURTHER STUDY While important, a matric certificate is not the only requirement for further study

13 GLOBAL EDUCATION Weighing up the pros and cons of an overseas education

15 FUNDING The escalating cost of higher education necessitates detailed research and planning to give prospective students access to decent study programmes



Picasso Headline, a proud division of Arena Holdings, Hill on Empire, 16 Empire Road (cnr Hillside Road), Parktown, Johannesburg, 2193 PO Box 12500, Mill Street, Cape Town, 8010 EDITORIAL Editor: Anél Lewis Content Manager: Raina Julies Contributors: Jermaine Craig, Thando Pato, Lisa Witepski Copy Editor: Brenda Bryden Content Co-ordinator: Vanessa Payne Digital Editor: Stacey Visser DESIGN Head of Design: Jayne Macé-Ferguson Senior Design: Mfundo Archie Ndzo Advert Designer: Bulelwa Sotashe Cover Image:, supplied SALES Project Manager: Merryl Klein | +27 21 469 2446 +27 82 895 7260 PRODUCTION Production Editor: Shamiela Brenner Advertising Co-ordinator: Johan Labuschagne Subscriptions and Distribution: Fatima Dramat, Printer: CTP Printers Cape Town MANAGEMENT Management Accountant: Deidre Musha Business Manager: Lodewyk van der Walt General Manager, Magazines: Jocelyne Bayer

15 STUDENT ACCOMMODATION With many institutions unable to keep pace with the ever-increasing demand for accommodation, students have to consider alternatives

16 GAP YEAR Learning is not restricted to lecture halls and tutorial rooms. A stint overseas or in the workplace can be life-changing


COPYRIGHT: No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without written consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for unsolicited material. Tertiary Education is published by Picasso Headline. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Picasso Headline. All advertisements/advertorials have been paid for and therefore do not carry any endorsement by the publisher.


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It’s important to seek guidance from a school teacher or parent when deciding on your academic subject choices in Grade 9.

GRADE 9, THE WATERSHED YEAR ANÉL LEWIS finds out why Grade 9 subject choices are so important


ubject choice in Grade 9 is “like an onramp that leads to your future career path,” says Lubabalo Magcoba, team leader for education planners at Optimi College. Subject choice is crucial if you are considering studying further, and it will determine the type of job you can do in future.

CHOICES, CHOICES Many Grade 9s are uncertain about which subject will point them in the right direction for the future. Michelle Duraan, a registered counsellor with a special interest in career counselling and assessments, says there are two key considerations. Firstly, what are you naturally good at and interested in doing? “Knowing yourself, and working with your strengths, is the best starting point in making subject choice decisions,” she says. Secondly, do you know the entrance requirements of the tertiary programmes in your chosen field? Magcoba cautions against choosing subjects just because they seem easy. “It’s about identifying what you want to ultimately do, and working out how to get there.” This may mean taking some subjects you don’t particularly enjoy.





Jocelyn Logan-Friend, high school design and implementation strategist at SPARK, says learners should ideally start by consulting the people who know them best. “They should also reach out to community members and their extended networks to gain knowledge from professionals in relevant fields.” Magcoba says that Jocelyn Logan-Friend many learners in

SA are unfortunately left to make this decision on their own, with no guidance from teachers or parents. “Ideally, every school should have a career guidance expert on hand when it comes to subject choices, but this is not a reality yet.” “A career counsellor will help uncover true strengths, in terms of ability or aptitude, and personality strengths,” says Duraan. Career counsellors use standardised career-based psychometric tests to match learners with suitable career options. These

Online school programmes have amplified the range of subject choices available. Lubabalo Magcoba, team leader for education planners at Optimi College, says these additional subjects can be a boon if aligned with a chosen career path or if they form part of a formal curriculum. Make sure the online programme forms part of an accredited curriculum.

“valid and reliable” measures gauge more about a learner, beyond their academic performance, adds Duraan. Grant Allen, an independent psychometrist offering career guidance, explains that he exposes the learner to careers they may not have heard of, but that are in line with their values, aptitudes, interests and personalities. A full career assessment is complex, he adds, as each factor cannot be measured in isolation. Someone may have an interest in medicine, but will not necessarily have the aptitude to become a doctor. “Many testees have a general idea of where their interests lie, but they want to see what other options are available before deciding on a career.”

“Knowing yourself, and working with your strengths, is the best starting point in making subject choice decisions.” – Michelle Duraan A QUALIFICATION BY ANY OTHER NAME The National Senior Certificate (NSC) is delivered by two different examining boards: the Department of Education (DBE) and the Independent Examinations Board (IEB), explains Jocelyn Logan-Friend, spokesperson for SPARK Schools. All South Africans cover the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) curriculum whether they sit the IEB NSC exam or the NSC exam,” adds Rebecca Pretorius, country manager at Crimson Education. “What is significant and differs between schools when parents are considering school choices is the depth, pace and sequence of curriculum coverage.”

UMALUSI Umalusi verifi es certificates issued for the NSC. Umalusi also accredits IEB assessments in all the NSC recognised subjects, says Pretorius.

“Umalusi essentially provides the quality assurance for these and other qualifications and examinations in South Africa,” she adds.

A LEVELS Other internationally recognised curricula and qualifications offered at schools instead of, or alongside, the national curriculum include Advanced level (A level) qualifications says Pretorius. Accredited by either Cambridge Assessment (CIE) or Pearson Edexcel, these are equivalent to the UK GSC and A levels, and are for students aged 16 to 18. The overall A-level qualification consists of an AS level – a standalone qualification – as well as the A level, says Pretorius. Both need to be completed to obtain a full A level – the AS level contributes 50 per cent towards the fi nal exam. The IEB and NSC matric qualifications are the equivalent of this AS level.


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NEED FUNDING TO BECOME A CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT? THUTHUKA HAS YOU COVERED For the past 19 years, the Thuthuka Bursary has funded academically talented African and coloured learners and students who want to become chartered accountants (CAs(SA)). If you are one such student, don’t delay, applications for the 2022 intake are now open


he South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) is constantly working to fix the member demographics of the chartered accounting profession to be reflective of those of the country. One way it does this is through the Thuthuka Bursary. The Thuthuka Bursary covers the following as a basic: tuition, books, meals, residence fees and accommodation for the full years of study where a student continues to pass their degree within the requisite period. To ensure its success, the programme follows an integrated and holistic approach, providing students with “wraparound” support in the form of, among others: • academic support, including various academic enrichment programmes such as additional tutorials, study skills workshops, and more • social and emotional support • work-readiness and life skills training • mentoring and counselling access to dedicated programme manager • exposure to experienced chartered accountants and business leaders as mentors. This model makes Thuthuka students more successful than their counterparts. It is also this approach that makes Thuthuka students ready to face the challenges of the workplace.





The bursary’s impact can be seen in the success stories of those whose lives it has changed. Thuthuka beneficiary Kim Christian CA(SA) is now a financial manager working at a mining company. She tells how the bursary assisted her: “Thuthuka gave me great support. As a student, you sometimes feel like you are a tiny fish thrown into the big ocean, but with Thuthuka it feels as though you have a family that has your back and wants you to be successful. And, in turn, you want to make yourself and your family proud. The financial support changed my life. Knowing that I did

Thuthuka beneficiaries graduate from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

not have to worry about tuition fees gave me room to focus on being the best student I could be. This, coupled with the academic and social support that Thuthuka offers, is what carried me through my four years at the University of Cape Town until graduation in 2014.” Another beneficiary, Sherwin Thomas CA(SA), who is now a financial manager working in auditing, shares a similar story: “Getting funded by Thuthuka gave me a stress-free studying environment because Thuthuka covered my books and fees. It helped me focus on my studies and not worry about funding my journey to becoming a chartered accountant.” These are not the only people who can attest to what Thuthuka has brought into their lives. To date, Thuthuka has supported over 4 000 African and coloured students of which, over 1 500 Thuthuka recipients have qualified and registered as CAs(SA) – an incredible achievement, considering that it takes a minimum of seven years to qualify as a CA(SA) – and a further 2 000 are currently completing various stages of the CA(SA) qualification process.

APPLICATIONS FOR 2022 BURSARY INTAKE CLOSE SOON The application window to apply for the Thuthuka Bursary 2022 is currently open and closes on 31 August 2021. To apply, visit and submit your application before the end of August this year. To qualify for the Thuthuka bursary, you must: • be a South African citizen • be black African or coloured

• be either in Grade 12, out of school (with matric) for no more than two years, or a university student currently studying a CA-stream BCom degree • have obtained at least 60% (5 or above on the NSC scale of achievement) in mathematics in Grade 11 or matric (maths literacy and technical maths learners are not considered) • have applied to or are currently studying a BCom Accounting (CA-stream) degree at a Thuthuka partner university. Find the full list of universities offering the Thuthuka programme on SAICA’s website • come from a family that has a combined income of R350 000 per annum or less • write and pass the National Benchmark Test (NBT).

Scan me to apply for the bursary. For more information:


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The University of Cape Town is one of 26 public universities in South Africa.

LIFE AFTER MATRIC Matric passes and your options for tertiary education. By THANDO PATO


he ultimate goal after at least 12 years of schooling is the matric pass. But what doors do a matric pass, known as the National Senior Certificate (NSC), open, and what happens if you don’t pass the final examination? Michelle Duraan, a registered counsellor with a special interest in career counselling, says that currently, three levels of Grade 12 passes are available. “A pass at certificate level, diploma level or bachelor’s level – based on your academic performance. Each pass gives you access to Michelle Duraan apply for different types of tertiary study. A higher certificate pass enables you to apply for certificate programmes only, a diploma pass gives access to apply for both certificate and diploma programmes, while a bachelor’s

pass allows you access to a bachelor’s degree, certificate and diploma programmes.” A matriculant with a certificate pass can attend any of the following tertiary institutions: • Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges • Trade schools such as beauty schools, chef schools or IT colleges • Complete in-house training in various industries. If a learner has a diploma pass, they can enrol for: • Bridging courses at TVET colleges • Diploma courses at various universities and universities of technology. A learner who has matriculated with a bachelor’s pass can study at any tertiary institution in South Africa, as long as they have met the requirements for their chosen field of study.

KNOW YOUR OPTIONS In South Africa, we are fortunate to have a wide variety of public and private tertiary institutions where a pass level will provide entry to study. A learner who hasn’t earned a bachelor’s pass

Certificate pass: • Pass six of your seven subjects • Pass mark of at least 40 per cent for your Home Language • Pass mark of at least 40 per cent for two subjects and at least 30 for the other three • Pass mark of at least 30 per cent in your Language of Learning Should you fail a subject, your school-based assessment items like tests and assignments will be used to evaluate your pass. Diploma pass: • Pass six of your seven subjects • Pass mark of at least 40 per cent for four subjects, including your Home Language • Pass mark of at least 30 per cent in Language of Learning and Teaching (LOLT). Bachelor’s certificate pass: • Pass six of your seven subjects • Pass mark of at least 50 per cent for four subjects excluding Life Orientation • Pass mark of at least of 40 per cent for your Home Language • A minimum of a 30 per cent pass in LOLT. Source: Department of Education

and therefore can’t study at one of the major universities, need not despair. They can look at private colleges or institutions that accept one of the other pass levels for entry to complete a similar course, says Zakiyya Essa, counselling psychologist and founder of the Career Guidance Company based in Johannesburg. “Some universities and Further Education and Training (FET) colleges offer qualifications in hospitality, catering and agricultural studies, while some standalone institutions specialise ›

WHAT IF YOU DON’T PASS MATRIC? Paper remark You can ask for your exam papers to be remarked or rechecked at a cost. Learners from no-fee schools may not have to pay an application fee to have this done. Visit for details. Supplementary exams You can also write supplementary exams, but this option is only available if you have failed fewer than three subjects. Learn more from

Second Chance Programme The Department of Basic Education offers the Second Chance Programme, which helps anyone who wants to rewrite subjects to obtain a certificate or diploma pass. Face-to-face classes are available at locations around the country. There is also additional support with online programmes and TV and radio broadcasts. For more information, email: za, WhatsApp: +27 63 696 7246 or visit the website at


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F UR T HER S T UDY STUDY FURTHER WITHOUT AN EXEMPTION The following institutions allow you to study without a matric pass:

“Each university or college will have its own entrance requirements. For example, you might need maths with a 60 per cent pass mark for a BCom degree at Wits University, but you may be able to apply for a BCom degree at Varsity College with less stringent requirements.” – Zakiyya Essa in studies in these areas. For example, the Department of Consumer and Food Sciences at the University of Pretoria offers an array of hospitality courses, but there are also other TVET colleges and private schools offering similar courses. “Each university or college will have its own entrance requirements. For example, you might need maths with a 60 per cent pass mark for a BCom degree at Wits University, but you may be able to apply for a BCom degree at Varsity College with less stringent requirements,” says Essa. “Furthermore, some colleges might offer a pre-university qualification or ‘bridging’ course if you did not achieve the desired marks for entry into your ideal degree.”

Essa advises that learners visit a career guidance centre or practitioner to help guide them through the best options. “You can check on the tertiary institution’s website for a list of resources in this area. You can also visit the Department of Higher Education’s website – – for a list of fully registered institutions countrywide and their contact details.” South Africa has 26 public universities that fall into three Zakiyya Essa broad categories. Traditional universities offer more theoretical degrees, while technical universities, known as technikons, focus on vocationally orientated education. There are also six comprehensive universities, such as the University of Johannesburg and

MAKE SURE YOUR QUALIFICATION IS ACCREDITED When researching a course you want to complete and the institution you would like to attend, it is important to also determine if it is SAQA-accredited, as this could affect your employment opportunities in the future. Companies are unlikely to hire someone who has a qualification from an institution that is not accredited with a recognised body. Formal tertiary education is governed by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). The primary function of SAQA is to oversee the development and implementation of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). According to SAQA: “The NQF is essentially a quality assurance system with the development and registration of standards and qualifications as the first important step in implementing a quality education and training system in South Africa.” To check if the institution you are interested in is accredited, visit or contact NQF Advisory Services on 086 011 1673. You can also contact Umalusi: 012 349 1510 or


Bellview College Accredited by FASSET, QCTO and the ICB, Bellview offers the ICB National Certificate: Bookkeeping accredited course. Matric College A distance learning institution, the college offers you the opportunity to redo your matric in addition to courses in educare and childcare, beauty, and tourism and guest house management. The Institution of Certification for Bookkeepers (ICB) The ICB offers business courses and is accredited by the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations.

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, which offer a combination of the two approaches. Learners should investigate their field of interest, possible institutions and the pass requirements before writing their final exams, says Essa. “Consider what your goals are: do you want to get a degree, diploma, higher certificate or trade behind your name? Do you want to go into business or entrepreneurship? Which qualification will sustain your interest over the study period and provide you with an exit qualification from the institution that will enable you to get employment easily? Would you enjoy the physical campus environment and ‘vibe’ or can you consider a distance learning/online learning platform that the university/college provides?” Distance learning facilities are no longer limited to the University of South Africa. Mancosa and Cornerstone, for example, also offer accredited learning courses. Some tertiary institutions will accept you without a matric qualification, making it unnecessary to repeat the year.


Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University is a comprehensive universty that offers a combination of both theoretical degrees and vocational oreientated courses.

Skills Academy This is an accredited distance learning institution where you can gain a certificate in the following: • Child Day Care • Creche Management • Educare and Child Care • Accounting, Bookkeeping and Finance • Beauty • Management • First Aid • Forensics • Photography • Interior Design and Decorating


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South Africa’s economy and COVID-19 conditions notwithstanding, applications for international study have increased by 30 per cent, according to Crimson Education’s Rebecca Pretorius.

A PASSPORT TO THE WORLD? An international degree carries a certain cachet – but does this justify the expense? LISA WITEPSKI weighs up the pros and cons of an overseas education



Nico Eleftheriades, managing director riane Frydman loved her time studying of Global Education, agrees that, as far as overseas, first as an undergraduate campus life goes, little can beat an international in Brussels and then as a master’s experience. Being exposed to peers from student at St Andrews in Scotland. different countries and learning the way they “It can be a culture shock because do things is nothing short of thrilling. Plus, he other populations aren’t necessarily as friendly adds, developing such far-reaching networks as South Africans. It can also be difficult to is certainly beneficial when it comes to access information about your options. But job-hunting. once you make it abroad, there’s a wonderful International universities help here, too, sense of freedom. You are exposed to so Eleftheriades continues, as many incorporate much you may not get to see in South Africa.” a work placement year in Heidi Sulcas, an their degree programmes. international travel adviser Others provide opportunities at IE Abroad, agrees that for students to participate if your child is ready (and in research with a practical if you can afford it), there component that adds a is little to rival an overseas significant dimension to their study experience. But, learning, adds Sulcas. she reiterates, it’s not for Then there’s the element everyone: “You must bear in of choice. Sulcas says that mind that this is tantamount Nico Eleftheriades Arizona State University offers to immigrating when you are no fewer than 356 different just 18, without the help of majors – and that’s not even counting minor your parents. You are going to have to take subjects. In Australia, you can even study for an control of every aspect of your life.” undergraduate degree in zombie management, For many, that’s the drawcard. Your student says Eleftheriades. years are a journey to find your authentic self, These factors make the prospect of and when you’re overseas, with few hometown international study highly attractive. But, says friends who know you to be a certain way, you Rebecca Pretorius of Crimson Education, can redefine yourself entirely.

“As far as campus life goes, little can beat an international experience. Being exposed to peers from different countries and learning the way they do things is nothing short of thrilling.” – Nico Eleftheriades

it’s not all silver linings. “Students must be aware of the heavy workload, and they need to understand what it means to be so far from home, especially during a pandemic when lockdowns are a norm.” Something else to consider, says Sulcas, is that every country has its own system. In the United Kingdom, for instance, it’s commonplace for students to start studying Rebecca Pretorius towards a particular vocation from the outset, whereas American universities tend to offer a more general education at the outset. “You have to consider which will be best for you.”

WHERE TO GO? The United States and United Kingdom (including Ireland) are perhaps the most obvious destinations, but Pretorius urges people to think more broadly. Australia, for example, is a less expensive option, while the Netherlands and Canada are steadily growing in popularity. Eleftheriades warns that it’s important to research all options thoroughly, consulting a reputable education agency if possible. You don’t want to study a discipline in a country because it appears to be affordable and offers classes in English, only to find that the information provided in class is specific to a certain region.

WHAT ABOUT ONLINE? Online learning is increasingly considered an option for those wishing to obtain an international qualification. While this is certainly a viable option, it depends largely on the degree itself, as well as the individual, says Eleftheriades. Sulcas concurs: “Around 70 per cent of your university experience is about campus life, so if you are someone who wants to enjoy the social side of being a student, you may well feel that you are missing out.” However, studying online does make it possible to save on accommodation costs while still accessing international content. Many people are choosing to study for at least one year online before heading to their university to enjoy the campus experience – getting what many would consider the best of both worlds.


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Tertiary education comes at a considerable cost and, unfortunately, access to funding is an obstacle for many aspirant students wanting to go to university or college after school. By ANÉL LEWIS


he first step when considering funding options should be a visit to the financial aid office at the institution where a student intends to study. As University of Cape Town (UCT) spokesperson Elijah Moholola says: “Undergraduate students have been assisted in funding from a variety of sources, which include the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), corporate sponsorships, donations and the university’s own funds.” Students who cannot afford to study further can apply for NSFAS funding. “As of 2018, first-time Elijah Moholola entering new students who are eligible for financial aid must come from households with an annual income of no more than R350 000,” explains Moholola. Before then, the income threshold was R122 000. Moholola says UCT applies the R350 000 threshold to all students, including pre-2018 registrations. Known as the “missing middle”, students from a household with an income of between R350 000 and R600 000 can apply to the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme. “This is a private-sector-funded bursary scheme. It provides financial and wraparound support to designated missing middle students


USEFUL RESOURCES Scholarships: Bursaries: Financial assistance: Crowdfunding: Loans: Major banks

Since it was launched in 2017, Feenix has raised close to R77-million and helped more than 2 000 students study further. to enable them to study towards degrees in scarce-skills professions,” says Moholola. Another option is a bursary or scholarship, which usually does not need to be repaid. These are available from the government, private sector, nongovernmental organisations and sponsors. “The requirements for academic and financial eligibility are determined by these funders, and tend to vary according to the programme of study,” explains Moholola. Often, the bursary will include an internship with the donor company. BMW, for example, offers paid vocational working experience as part of its bursary. Magdeline Thidiela, head: Client Solutions, Retail Personal Lending, at Standard Bank, says: “Prospective students can finance their full-time or part-time studies by applying online for a student loan at an interest rate of seven per cent. This will cover their registration and tuition fees – based on the amount they can afford – their accommodation up to R60 000 per year, as well as their textbooks and equipment. Not all students can afford a loan, therefore

The Feenix crowdfunding platform connects students with donor communities.

Standard Bank launched Feenix Trust in 2017 to help make tertiary education more accessible to economically challenged students. Feenix uses social media to help students from homes with an income of below R600 000 connect with individuals and corporates seeking to support access to education. “By supporting and donating towards students completing their degrees, we can ensure that we have more skilled young people entering the workforce and contributing to the economy of South Africa,” says Leana de Beer, CEO of Feenix. “It is the perfect platform for those who don’t meet the financing criteria of banks and other institutions.”

NO ROOM AT THE STUDENT INN? With student numbers increasing throughout the country, the need for affordable, safe and convenient student accommodation has intensified. JERMAINE CRAIG looks at options


ost universities and tertiary institutions offer some form of accommodation. Student residences that offer meal options, but also enforce regulations such as curfew, are popular with first-year students who want to make the most of living on campus. Thereafter, students seeking more independence tend to

move to one of the university’s student houses or opt for private accommodation. However, South Africa is grappling with a massive shortage of affordable student accommodation. According to a market assessment by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), as of 2020 there were about 223 000 purpose-built student beds in the ›

Student accommodation at the University of the Western Cape.


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FINANCIAL HELP Student accommodation comes at a price, but some financial aid programmes, such as the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme, will cover living costs. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will pay for “accredited accommodation” that includes on-and off-campus residences owned by the institution, private accommodation leased by the institution, and private residences that have been accredited by the institution’s department of student housing. The IFC notes that the highest demand for student accommodation is for NSFAS-funded students who can’t afford to pay upwards of R3 000 a month for a bed.

The Department of Higher Education and Training has launched the Student Housing Infrastructure Programme (SHIP) to accelerate the provision of suitable student housing. With private and public investment, it aims to help deliver 300 000 student beds over the next 10 years.

SAFE AND ACCESSIBLE Education finance provider Fundi helps students find safe and secure accommodation that they can afford. “Technology has a critical role to play in helping to address both the needs and challenges in the student accommodation space,” says Fundi CEO Makgau Dibakwane. “It is able to go beyond matching demand and supply alone, and can connect both students and universities to accommodation suppliers in a safe, secure and transparent way.” He says the company brings a level of regulation to what is largely an unregulated market – driven by the ownership of student properties becoming such a compelling financial opportunity for many.

Mind the gap and give back Taking a gap year allows young students to give back to their communities while developing their strengths, abilities and career goals before they start work. By JERMAINE CRAIG


oing a service year or gap year before you study, can really help you to clarify who you are and where your interests lie, as well as identify your strengths,” says Daylene van Buuren, executive director at City Year South Africa. “It can also help you build a bit more resilience that can position you better for your future studies.” Van Buuren adds that after gaining greater work and life experience during a gap year, students feel better equipped and Daylene van Buuren more confident. The experience also teaches students how to better interact with peers, supervisors and institutions.


In a local context, van Buuren understands that because the South African unemployment rate is alarming, we must face the practical realities that a young person may also need to earn money to cover basic living costs, or supplement university fees. “If you need to work and save up money, a gap year is a great opportunity to do so. If you choose a service-orientated route, be clear that service is about giving your time, energy and skills, so you do need to do it for more than just the money.” Van Buuren advises that the service route complements any skills or knowledge you have. “It is the opportunity to practically apply knowledge through experiential learning.” If you are studying to become a chartered accountant, for example, you can offer your skills and time to help smaller

The Gap Year Association reports that 90 per cent of students enrol in a four-year course at a tertiary institution within one year of completing a gap year.



The International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates South Africa has a current shortage of about 500 000 beds for students at universities and vocational training schools. It recently announced a $150-million equity investment that will help develop and operate accommodation for up to 15 000 students over the next five years. Source: Annual Report DHET 2019/2020.

“Private transactions have become far more common as students often have to make alternative arrangements if they are unable to find accommodation through the university where they are registered. This has significant implications for all parties: affecting everything from pricing to accommodation quality and, critically, student safety and security,” says Dibakwane.

community organisations with their finances. “You learn more about their context while the beneficiary gets help with their finances,” says van Buuren. “Whether you study first and then do a gap year or year of service, or whether you do the gap year or service first – there are benefits to both approaches,” she concludes.

A HYBRID GAP YEAR Another shorter option for post-matric students is the four-month Gap Year Careers and Life Coaching Course, where students can learn about and experience up to 60 different careers in their gap year. “The course goes beyond just job shadowing and internships, with special job-specific tasks so learners can get a real feel of a day in the life of that career. There are 160 different career options from business and technology to creative and holistic, and everything in between. Students can even learn from top career experts in their fields,” says Gap Year course convenor, Andrew Simpson. The course is a hybrid, combining both in-person and online learning, preparing students for the fourth industrial revolution. Find out more:


country for private universities and TVET college students. However, with a combined enrolment of 1.19 million students last year, the bed-to-student provision ratio was at 68 per cent, leaving a supply-demand gap of 511 600 beds. “With enrolments expected to increase to almost 1.6 million by 2025, this demand gap is set to grow by 781 000 beds by 2025,” notes the IFC.


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