Varsities choc-a-block

Zandile Mbabela and Barbara Hollands

THOUSANDS of Eastern Cape students will descend on their respective campuses for registration this week, but those who have left applications to the last minute will have to ensure they have what it takes to slot themselves into courses in the science and engineering faculties. These are the only spaces available at the universities.

While the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), Fort Hare and Rhodes are full to capacity and accepting no more applications, Walter Sisulu University still has openings in its undersubscribed science and engineering courses.

However, the university is only considering students who meet the entry requirements and do not need to undergo any aptitude tests. WSU spokeswoman Angela Church said while the more popular courses were full, there were a few openings in the engineering and science faculties at their various campuses.

“At the Mthatha campus we have openings in BSc degree options like chemistry and maths, in Buffalo City there are gaps in engineering and IT and at Butterworth there are places in the building and engineering fields,” she said.

It was a race for space before applications closed last year, with universities receiving far more applications than they could accommodate. This was also the case in university residences, where there is always more demand than supply.

Now students are heading for registration halls at WSU and NMMU today, while those at Fort Hare’s East London campus started registering last Monday. Rhodes students will only start on February 7.

Lectures at all the universities, except Rhodes, start on February 10, and the Grahamstown university begins a week later. While universities accepted the maximum number of students they could accommodate, not all are expected to arrive for registration as there is “always a no-show factor”.

Although more than 7000 students were granted entry to NMMU last year, just more than 5000 are expected actually to take up their spots.

UFH spokeswoman Zintle Filtane said it was accepting no more applications and urged prospective students to apply as early as June the year before they planned to study.

The university, which had received 14500 first applications, could only accommodate 2100.

“It is really sad because we can’t take more, but we need to make young people understand technikons are not inferior.”

She said 10000 students from second year upwards would be returning to UFH when lectures started in two weeks.

At Rhodes, not all the 6000-plus students accepted will study there because, according to spokesman Zamuxolo Matiwana, “there is always a no-show factor, which appears to be higher this year”.

WSU and NMMU students have to pay registration fees of R3677 and R5700 respectively for undergraduate degree programmes. Fort Hare students make a R3000 down payment, while Rhodes students fork out R17600 as an initial payment.

With the inclusion of residence fees, WSU pay R5367 while their NMMU and Rhodes peers pay an extra R4200 and R20600.

Meanwhile, more than 5000 first-year students and their parents will pack the halls of NMMU for a welcoming ceremony today, and to acquaint themselves with the campuses before registration.

NMMU vice-chancellor Derrick Swartz will address the new students from the Indoor Sports Centre – an event which will be streamed across the different venues that span as far as the George campus.