Big South African private school group planning healthcare qualifications

South African private education group AdvTech plans to start offering tertiary qualifications in healthcare, Sunday Times reports.

Roy Douglas, who was AdvTech’s CEO until his retirement at the end of February 2024, recently told the publication that the company was looking at a number of careers in the broader health sector.

Douglas said nursing was one possible healthcare-related qualification that would provide good opportunities for young South Africans.

South Africa currently has a shortage of nurses, while there is also demand for people with the qualification in countries like Australia and the UK, popular destinations for emigrants.

“If we skill people, there is an opportunity for them to find employment locally or abroad,” Douglas said.

“One in eight nurses is working in a different country from where they were trained.”

“We could actually just start to open up the opportunity to train nurses. I think it represents a huge opportunity for everyone.”

AdvTech is currently discussing the creation of its healthcare faculty with major multinationals and South African corporations.

However, Douglas ruled out a fully-fledged medical school for doctor’s qualifications, which would require substantial investment.

The group is also in talks with cruise liners to offer skills training for working on passenger ships.

“There is one cruise liner that has indicated to us that they are looking for 600 people a month,” said Douglas.

Roy Douglas, former AdvTech CEO

Private tertiary education has expanded substantially in South Africa over the past few years, driven by the need for increased capacity and concerns over the quality of learning environments at some public universities.

In addition to being the owner of over 100 private schools in South Africa — including Crawford Schools and Trinityhouse — AdvTech’s best-known tertiary education brand is Varsity College.

Founded in 1991, Varsity College is one of the oldest private tertiary institutions in South Africa.

It has eight physical campuses and offers distance-based learning for various careers.

It already boasts an extensive list of post-school qualifications — including full-time and part-time degrees in Arts, Commerce, Law, Accounting, and Computer Science.

AdvTech’s main rival is South Africa’s biggest private school group Curro, which has nearly 200 private schools in its fold.

Curro also offers tertiary qualifications through its Stadio brand, founded in 1998.

Stadio has seven faculties, including Law, Policing, Science and Technologies, Teacher Education, and Humanities.

For in-person classes, it has seven campuses in South Africa.

For Afrikaans learning

Another major private education group that has expanded its qualifications in recent years is Solidarity’s Akademia, founded in 2010.

Akademia differs from Varsity College and Stadio in one important area — it only offers Afrikaans as the medium of instruction.

It has five faculties — Economics and Management Services, Humanities, Law, Natural Sciences, and Teacher Education.

Solidarity is also venturing into pre-tertiary private schooling.

The organisation recently announced it was building Gimnasium Pretoria, a private combined primary and high school for Afrikaans Christian learners.

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Big South African private school group planning healthcare qualifications