More higher education students enrol in science, technology, report shows

16 April 2019 - 12:55
By ernest mabuza
The majority of students in public higher education institutions enrolled  in science, engineering and technology fields in 2017.
Image: University of Pretoria The majority of students in public higher education institutions enrolled in science, engineering and technology fields in 2017.

The most enrolments in the country's 26 public higher education institutions was recorded for science, engineering and technology (SET) studies.

Enrolment in these studies has been steadily growing from 2009, when there were only 237,058 students enrolled, to 310,115 in 2017.

These figures are contained in the report released by higher education and training minister Naledi Pandor on Tuesday.

The report, Statistics on post-school education and training in South Africa: 2017", showed that the second-most enrolments in 2017 were in business and management, with 278,930 enrolments, followed by other humanities (252,826) and education (195,113).

"When comparing 2009 and 2017, all fields of study recorded an increase in student enrolment, with the largest increase recorded for the SET field of study (73,057) while the other humanities field of study recorded the lowest increase (25,972)," the report said.

The report also said there were were 210,931 graduates in public higher education institutions in 2017, reflecting a 3.9% (7,855) increase compared with 2016.

"Similar to the previous years, majority of graduates were in the science, engineering and technology (29.2% or 61,581), followed by business and management (27.4% or 57,772), all other humanities (22.4% or 47,144) and education (21.1% or 44,434) fields of study."

The report also found that almost three quarters of the students enrolled in public higher education institutions in 2017 were black Africans (73.7% or 763,767), followed by white students (14.3% or 148,802), coloured students (6.2% or 64,772) and Indian/Asian students (4.8% or 50,131).

The largest gender difference was within the African population group, where 130,138 more female students enrolled compared with males, while the Indian/Asian population group recorded the lowest gender difference (9,905 more males compared with females).

The number of foreign national students enrolled in these institutions was 67,434, which was 6.5% of the total enrolment in 2017.

Out of the top 10 countries, the highest proportion of foreign national students were from Zimbabwe (38.3% or 25,859), while Congo enrolled the lowest proportion of students (1.4% or 967). Namibia had the second-largest number of foreign students (5,481) followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (3,679) and Lesotho (3,499).

The total number of students enrolled in the private higher education institutions in 2017 was 185,046, which was an increase of 10.5% compared with the total student enrolment in 2016 (167,408).

Enrolment in the country's 50 public TVET colleges reached 688,028 in 2017, reflecting a 2.5% (17,369) decline when compared with 2016.