Experts are warning that the government’s decision to make it easier to get a National Senior Certificate (NSC) Bachelor’s pass will mean universities will be flooded with applications.
Up until March 2018, the minimum requirement for admission to degree studies was subject to a list of 20-credit subjects known as the “designated subject list”.
Anne Oberholzer, CEO of the Independent Examinations Board, explained that pupils had to obtain an NSC with a minimum of a 50% in four designated subjects.
However, on 2 March, the designated subject list was revoked by the department of higher education.
This means that the minimum admission requirements for degree study changed to an achievement of 50% or more in any four subjects.
Oberholzer highlighted that the only National Senior Certificate subject that does not qualify is Life Orientation.
This means that learners can achieve an NSC Bachelor’s pass with subjects like dance studies, design, and tourism.
The new requirements for entry to degree studies at a university are listed below.
- Pass one official language at Home Language level at 40% or more.
- Pass 4 subjects at 50% or more.
- Pass 2 other subjects at a minimum of 30%.
- Meet the language requirement for entry to further study.
Warning about university applications
Flip Smit, a demographer and former vice chancellor of the University of Pretoria, called the move by the department of higher education reckless.
He told Rapport that South African universities already received between 5-9 times more applications than what they can accommodate.
The new rules will make it much easier to get an NSC Bachelor’s pass, which will open the flood gates for applications to universities.
This increase in applications, Smit warns, will put enormous pressure on universities which are already struggling to cope with the current application levels.
He added that the ease of achieving a Bachelor’s pass also misleads learners into thinking they can complete a degree course.
“Matric results are a disgraceful freak show”
Jonathan Jansen, distinguished professor in the Faculty of Education at Stellenbosch University, has also called the matric results a “disgraceful freak show”.
Jansen said in a column this year that to believe that the 2017 matric pass rate is 75.1%, about 2.5% higher than in 2016, is asking “that you forego common sense”.
Jansen highlighted that:
- 78% of children cannot read with understanding in Grade 4.
- 9% of Grade 6 teachers cannot pass a Grade 6 math test.
- The pass mark in some subjects is 30%.
“It is not as if the few who passed and even those who graduated with a so-called Bachelor’s pass have a solid academic education to see them through tertiary studies,” he said.
“In fact, we know most of these students will drop out of university and few would attain the degree within the minimum time.”
He said that this is because the quality of the NSC examination is “so weak in the intellectual demands made of pupils that any fool can scale the 30% (three subjects) and 40% (three subjects including home language) passing hurdles.”