Student applications well up

17 March 2008

Comparative statistics show that UCT's 2008 application figures for undergraduate and postgraduate students in all categories are well up on last year's figures.

A total of 20 200 applications were received (2007: 18 000), 15 000 of these from new undergraduate students (transferring and first-time entering), a significant increase over last year's 13 000.

In all, over 6 000 offers were made, in all categories of undergraduate applicants, for 3 800 places, says director of admissions, Carl Herman.

"We expect a take-up rate of over 60% but final registration figures are not yet available."

Though UCT's physical resources are stretched to capacity in many areas, a large applicant pool remains important, Herman says.

"The more applications we get, the more strong students we get to choose from. This is important when you consider the shrinking pool of black South African applicants. Everyone is competing for them."

It's also important to remember that many of the 15 000 applicants are ineligible for study at UCT. Many don't make the grade.

"It's a question of finding the best applicants in the country, in all categories, and then converting offers into registrations."

"It is pleasing to note that applications are up from last year," Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo added.

"UCT faces competition from other institutions, all of whom want the best students from all kinds of backgrounds. I believe that the improvements to our system have contributed to this year's numbers. By improvements I mean the better co-ordination and synergy between recruitment, admissions, student housing and financial aid, which really kicked in this year.

"Further refinements will no doubt be made, and when we do get it right, the process of applying to UCT will be significantly simplified. With PeopleSoft finally showing what it can do, UCT is poised to be as competitive as anybody else in the sector."

Herman also reports a smooth processing run this year, his staff working hard to provide a seven-day turnaround on applications for nearly 100 % of the admissions cycle.

In addition, faculty-based staff and staff in areas such as student financial aid and student housing contributed to a better experience for applicants.

However, the new matric system presents new challenges with regard to applicants at the end of 2008. With higher grade and standard grade subjects now a thing of the past, this year's matrics will write the new National Senior Certificate.

"One of the challenges for the faculties after the end of 2008 will be to calibrate the old and new systems when making offers to students, many of whom will be returning after a gap year," Herman said.

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