After the turbulent year that was 2020, the focus for many was simply on getting through the eye of the storm, with less focus on their plans for the new year. This was especially true for the Matric Class of 2020, who have now finally received their results, and can (for the most part) close that chapter.
However with the focus firmly on finishing their final year of school, many didn’t make plans for 2021 and further study, while others may have performed better than expected and are now eligible for further study where previously they did not expect this outcome.
“If you now find yourself in the position that you are able to pursue further education, but did not yet put plans in place to do so, the good news is that registrations are still open at some higher education institutions, whether for full-time degree study, part-time and distance programmes, or short learning programmes,” says Wonga Ntshinga, Senior Head of Programme: Faculty of ICT at The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest and most accredited private higher education provider.
“There are some excellent options still available to prospective students, and there is no need to let the year go to waste by putting your plans on hold until next year,” he says.
Ntshinga says anyone who is keen to continue their studies this year must get to work as soon as possible to ensure they don’t miss upcoming deadlines.
“Your first stop should be to do a thorough online search for institutions and programmes that are still accepting registrations, to see whether any of them are a match for your ambitions. If you are unsure about what you want to do with your future, this is a great opportunity to speak to a career counsellor or student advisor at a respected higher education campus.
“These advisors are well-trained and knowledgeable about which kind of professionals are currently in demand, and expected to be so in future, and will be able to assist you with advice regarding which qualifications are a fit for your interests and strengths.”
Ntshinga says given the current economic climate and competition for limited opportunities in the workplace, young people should do everything in their power to constantly develop their skills, even if they are not yet ready to commit to full-time degree study.
“There are a number of options available that don’t involve a long-term commitment, but which will help you take the next step on your educational journey, thereby building your competitive advantage in the job market,” he says.
“So if you have an idea of what field you’d like to pursue, but need more certainty or more time before pursuing a full degree or maybe don’t have degree endorsement, consider enrolling for a Higher Certificate which will allow you to get a foot in the door in a specific field, while at the same time exploring and refining your interests. Upon completion, you would also be able to enrol for degree studies in a similar discipline.”
A Higher Certificate is a one-year programme, which allows students to attain a full qualification while at the same time mastering the essential skills needed for higher education success.
“Of course, many will still want to opt for full degree study, and if these candidates move quickly, they can still register in time to complete their first year by the end of 2021,” Ntshinga says.
“While most public university registrations have closed, there are still opportunities in private higher education, which thousands of students opt for as a matter of course because of smaller class sizes, work-integrated learning which prepares them to step confidently into the workplace from day one, as well as the strong industry connections that some institutions boast.
“So if you are interested in pursuing degree study this year, do your research and contact institutions without delay.”
Ntshinga notes that a degree from a respected private institution is highly regarded among employers, particularly where the institution has a reputation for producing work-ready graduates who can make a positive contribution from day one, rather than having to struggle to translate the theory they learned at university into real-life application.
Very importantly, prospective students should try to contact current students at their chosen institution, to ask about their learning experience, in particular their experience of lockdown learning last year.
“Our environment remains uncertain, and anyone signing up for study now must make sure that their institution is able to continue providing the highest quality of academic excellence, coupled with engagement and support, even when in-person learning is not possible.
“Prospective students must be confident that their institution will assist them to continue successfully on their educational journey, regardless of future disruption that may arise.”