Serious shortage of students at the University of Free State

Serious shortage of students at the University of Free State. The education department at the University of Free State (UFS) appears to be seriously short on first-year students.

This is the first time it has occurred, according to a memo written under the signature of Professor Loyiso Jita, Dean of the Faculty of Education at the main site in Bloemfontein.

The dean asks staff in the undated memo going viral on social media to urge prospective students to register.

“The faculty is experiencing a serious shortfall of students to meet our 2023 targets. This is the first time where the faculty is likely not to meet the set university targets for first years (and seniors) who are registered for 2023,” the memo reads.

In the memo, Jita begs UFS Faculty staff to bring in any students they know on “Wednesday and Thursday only on a first come, first serve premise,” regardless of whether they were accepted or didn’t apply but were ready to pay and start attending classes.

According to the memo, students with an Admission Point Score (APS) of 30 or higher may also be accepted into the main school. The school is looking for about 100 spaces for its site in Qwaqwa and another 100 for its campus in Bloemfontein.

“Please encourage students that may not have applied or may have been denied based on grade 11 results to walk into EXR ready tomorrow and Thursday. Let us do this together for our faculty!” Jita pleads in the memo.

The institution’s administration is aware of the message that has been circulating on social media over the past week, according to Lacea Loader, director of communication and marketing at UFS.

“The university is unable to register any prospective walk-in students in the Faculty of Education or any of its other six faculties,” she said.

Lacea did not go into detail about why the faculty was unable to register any potential walk-in students, only that the university’s undergraduate enrollment period had ended on February 17, 2023.

The publication contacted several colleges for data on the amount of applications and admissions for first-year students in light of the developments at UFS.

However, only Louis Jacobs, Head of Corporate Communication at North West University (NWU), provided feedback.

He claimed that although the school received nearly 200 000 applications from potential first-year students for the class of 2023, it could only admit 12 726 contact and distance first-year students.

When asked how the confusion surrounding first-year student registration has been reduced, Jacobs responded that this is not the first time that registrations have been primarily conducted online.

“Assistance was however provided to students who experienced difficulties. Together with this, no walk-in students were allowed, thus also eliminating the issue of large numbers of people on the campuses,” he said.

North West University extends registration

According to Jacobs, registration has been postponed until the following week because some students were still having issues, mostly related to financing, and were therefore only provisionally registered.

“Our academic programme commenced on 20 Feb and those students who are only provisionally registered are having access to it via our online learning platform, eFundi. Based on the reason supplied, no indication of final numbers in any of the programmes can be supplied at this stage,” he added.

The Cape Peninsula University of Technology flatly refused to provide the requested information while other institutions were still waiting for their responses (the article will be updated once these institutions have answered). It would not provide a justification for this denial.

“[We] are unable to supply you with this information,” the university’s spokesperson Suzelle Koch replied.