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Student enrolment and registration 2015

- Wits University

Media resource: Q&A on enrolment/registration 2015:

CONTENTS:

  1. STUDENT ADMISSION, ENROLMENT AND REGISTRATION
  2. FEES AND FUNDING
  3. ACCOMMODATION

STUDENT ENROLMENT AND REGISTRATION

Q: Can students still apply for the 2015 academic year?

A: No.

Q: When was the closing date for applications for the 2015 cohort?

A:  Applications for ALL Health Sciences programmes, Speech and Hearing and Architecture closed on 30 June 2014 whilst all other programmes closed on 30 September 2014.

Q: Does Wits accept late applications and walk-in applications?

A: No, Wits does not accept late applications. Late walk-in applicants will be informed accordingly.

Q: If a student has not applied yet, what are their options at Wits?

A: The University also offers part-time studies and short courses via the Wits Plus Centre for part-time studies; the Wits Language School and the Wits Enterprise.  

Q: What are the criteria used for selecting students?

A: The University publishes its admission requirements extensively in its annual prospectus.

Wits University’s admission requirements are based on merit, and we have an automatic computerised admissions system, which based on the number of points a student has, automatically issues an offer to a potential student, without any human interference in vetting the offer.

There are however, different programmes within the University which have different admission requirements and, depending on the programme, need to be taken into consideration, including a rating system, admission points score (APS), questionnaires, selection tests, interviews, auditions and/or written assignments; for example students applying for a Bachelor of Music would participate in an audition as part of the selection criteria.

Almost 70% of Wits’ student population is Black African, so transformation of the student body at Wits is not an issue.

Wits University has revised its admissions policy for all programmes offered by the Faculty of Health Sciences. This follows the recommendations of a task team commissioned by the Vice-Chancellor.

Applicants who are currently applying for entrance in 2015 will not be required to complete a Biographical Questionnaire (BQ). Their matric results will carry a 50% weighting and the results of their National Benchmark Tests (NBTs) will make up the other 50%.

This weighting may change for 2016 entry with the introduction of an online Bio-sketch.

For the 2015 academic year we received well over 51 000 applications for approximately 6255 first year places.  We do indicate very clearly in our admissions literature that meeting the likely admissions levels of acceptance does not guarantee you a place.  The number of places available as opposed to the number of applications is a national issue and not unique to Wits.

The discussion on the number of places available at universities is part of a broader question around access to further education.  It is crucial for the profile of FET colleges to be raised as they play a significant role in allowing students options for further study.  Not all students who matriculate are ‘university material’ and not all students necessarily want to go to University. As places in Universities are limited, it would be best for students to apply to more than one University.

The University makes approximately 6255 places available for first-year students and in total, Wits can accommodate about 30 000 undergraduate and post-graduate students. 

Q: Which fields of study are the popular ones and receiving the most number of applications?

A: Medical programmes collectively always receive a high number of applications and these collectively received over 27 000 applications. Our seven different engineering degrees, as a collective, have attracted 17 521 applications whilst the general BCom is also extremely popular. The BA programme generally attracts the third highest number of applications.  

Q: With regards to the Post Office strike, have you received any applications that were sent via the Post Office? If so, how many (average figure)?

A: A high number of our applicants this year used the online application facility through which we have received about 30 000 applications. This figure surpasses that of postal applications which is approximately 21 000.

Since our closing date on 30 September 2014, we have received approximately 600 applications sent via Fastmail. From our assessment it appears that applicants opted for the online application system to circumvent the strike. We are not experiencing a high volume of calls from concerned applicants.

Q: Do you have any plans for those applicants who have sent their applications via the Post Office and have no access to the online platforms?

A: The Student Enrolment Centre (SEnC), the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office, and the Accommodation Office will capture and consider applications that have been delayed due to the strike. However, these need to have been posted before our closing date of 30 September 2014.

Q: How does Wits make sure registration takes place in an orderly fashion?

A: Registration information is sent to all qualifying applicants with details (of dates, time and venue) when registration will take place. In addition, Wits students registering for fixed curriculum can register online. Wits strives to improve its student admission and registration process annually and has a Student Enrolment Centre (SEnC) dedicated to deal with any enquiries related to applying to study at Wits. This includes accommodation, financial aid, sport and other bursaries, career education, curriculum advice and selection test information. We can also help with registration, timetables, syllabi and booklists. This one-stop service is also web-based and students are encouraged to apply online as well as follow their applications status online. This is in support the broader national government campaign which encourages Grade 12 learners to apply early to institutions of higher learning.

Registration / Enrolment 2015

To make the registration process more convenient for you, some students will be able to register online at home while others will have to register at Wits at the assisted online registration venues on campus. Registered students can now apply online for parking permits and sign up for various clubs and societies online. 

Q: When do first-year students register?

A: From 5 January 2015 onwards.

Q: When does registration for all students take place?

A: From 5 January 2015. 

Q: When do classes begin?

A: The first teaching block runs from 16 February 2015 – 27 March 2015

Q: How many first-year students do Wits accept?

A: Wits offers space to approximately 6255 first-time, first-year students.

Q: How is Wits preparing for the first years of 2015?

A: As is tradition, the University will host its Welcome Day, an event attended by both new students and parents/guardians. This day will be held on Sunday, 8 February 2015. Parents and students will have an opportunity to engage with the Vice-Chancellor, Deans of Faculties, SRC members, senior students and other members of the Wits community; and explore the campus. Following the formalities a light lunch will be served on the University's library lawns with entertainment.

Orientation Week, also known as O-Week, kicks off on Monday, 9 February and concludes on Friday, 13 February 2015.

The O-Week programme features a variety of workshops and activities to address the needs of new students, including campus tours, meeting faculty and staff, numerous campus resource seminars and many fun events. Attending O-Week is extremely beneficial to students as it softens the transition from high school to university, new comers have a chance to make friends and get a sense of how the University operates before the academic programme begins.  

In order to ensure academic success, Wits students have access to the First Year Experience (FYE).  The FYE programme is a support structure aimed at empowering and equipping first year university students with the necessary skills required to navigate successfully through university. The programme has significantly contributed to the retention and student success at Wits by minimising the number of students at risk due to academic or social factors.

The Wits Student Development and Leadership Unit, the Careers and Counselling and Development Unit and the FYE programme are just some of the student support structures designed to ensure the holistic development of students.  

Q: How many first-year applications do Wits receive annually?

A: 40 000 on average.

Q: How many students can Wits accommodate annually – from all years of study?

A: In total, Wits can accommodate about 30 000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Q: Has there been a marked increase in undergraduate applications over the last five years?

A: Ms Jeannette Phiri, Wits Head of Student Enrolment says: “Wits has 6255 places available for first-year students for 2015. Over the last five years there has been a marked increase in applications. At the Student Enrolment Centre, we have employed extra staff for a short period to keep up with the increased number of applications and documentations.”

Q: How has Wits sought to keep up with the increasing demand for tertiary study?

A: The infrastructure of our University also had to expand to take into account our increased numbers, thus our recent expansion and development of the Science Stadium with state of the art lecture theatres, among other capital expansion projects. The University ensures that our academic staff to student ratio remains optimal to take into account the increase in enrolment numbers.

Q: What are the most popular courses?

A: Medicine and Surgery attract the most number of applicants, but the Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Science are also very popular.

Q:  Passing requirements for academic year-on-year progression.

A: Each faculty has different ‘Progression Rules’ which have minimum requirements which students have to meet each year which takes into consideration the individual courses. The passing requirements for each programme vary, i.e. in a Bachelor of Arts a student needs to pass a minimum number of points allocated to each course that he/she has registered for in order to proceed to the following year.   

Q: How many years does the University give a student to repeat a year or course?

A: The standard procedure is to allow a student to repeat a course three times. This may vary from faculty to faculty. 

FEES AND FUNDING

Q: By how much have student fees increased over the last three years?

A: By approximately 7 – 10% in the last three years.

Programme

2012

2013

2014

2015

BA degree

R33 200.00

R35 800.00

R39 380.00

R43 320.00

MBChB (Medicine)

R43 520.00

R47 030.00

R52 030.00

R58 140.00

Engineering

R37 710.00

R40 920.00

R45 050.00

R48 150.00

 Q: How does the University arrive at the fee increase of the degrees?

A: Various factors impact on the fee increases and the costs of each programme is determined individually based on numerous factors that impact on the delivery of the course. Unlike most businesses, the University is obliged to order many of its consumable products like textbooks and specialised equipment from abroad using a currency that remains relatively weak in terms of foreign exchange. The costs of running libraries and laboratories exceed the national inflation levels. The costs of printing are again expected to far outstrip average inflation. These and many other line items which are critical to the operation of the University increase year on year therefore necessitating an increase in student fees or the upfront fee.

For example, the international costs that impact on the running of universities are goods such as: specialist equipment, IT software and hardware licences, consumables such as chemicals, university-level books and journals, etc. These goods cost a premium because they have a small market worldwide. A best-seller novel with huge print runs costs much less than a scientific textbook with low print runs for medical students. In addition, all goods needed from outside South Africa attract import duties. Imported books (the life-blood of the libraries) also attract ad valorum tax. These taxes are imposed to protect local publishers and industries. However, they can add some 40-50% to the costs.

Locally, electricity is on the increase and the University will also have to bear the brunt of increased fuel costs to ensure that buses for students continue to operate between campuses and property rates hikes, etc.

In some academic programmes, scarce and rare skills have led to higher costs of delivering the courses thereby necessitating an increase above the norm.

Q: What is your most expensive course?

A: MBBCh (Medicine)

Q: What financing and funding opportunities exist for future and current students?

A: Wits University administers about R500 million in scholarships, bursaries and financial aid per annum. This includes Wits’ own funds and scholarships and monies that it administers on behalf of government, the public and private sectors and individual and corporate donors.

Students can apply for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), funding applications for 2015 closed on 30 September 2014. The University also has its own internally funded scholarships which recognise excellence across a variety of areas of achievement. Secondly, from 2014 the University will introduce the Vice-Chancellor's Equality Scholarship targeted at the top students in quintile one and two schools. Top performing students from these schools will be given scholarships to ensure that talented students from economically marginalised communities have access to Wits.

There are also external financial institutions that students can approach for funding or a loan. The private sector (business, NGOs etc.) advertises available bursaries a year prior to registration.

Q: How much is owed to Wits in student debt and how do the University collect outstanding monies?

A: The 2014 student debt figures will only be available in 2015 after registration. Wits’ bad debt is less than 1.9% of its total revenue, making it one of the institutions in the country with the lowest burden of debt. The outstanding fees for 2013 are approximately R21 million but the figure decreases on a daily basis as monies are collected. In January 2012, the University had R16.5 million outstanding in student debt. It was R11.1 million in 2011.

Q: What arrangements are in place to help students who cannot afford to pay their fees?

A: The University has a number of flexible payment options for students and most monies are recovered in January, before registration for the current academic year. The University continues to collect any shortfall throughout the year and does not permit a student to escalate their debt through a further year of registration. It would be irresponsible of the University to encourage an escalation of such debt. Fortunately, over 50% of Wits’ students are on financial aid or external bursaries.

If an individual who owes money does not voluntarily enter into discussions about an appropriate schedule of repayments, the University then follows a process which includes contacting the person responsible for payment and developing a repayment schedule. Only if this process is not successful, does the University embark on implementing the formal debt collection process.

If a student has outstanding tuition fees at the time of graduation, the student unfortunately cannot graduate and the qualification will be withheld until the amount has been settled.

Q: How many Wits students are on financial aid or scholarships?

A: Over 50% of Wits’ students are on financial aid or external bursaries.

ACCOMMODATION

Q: What is the percentage increase in the 2015 residence fees from 2014?

A: The percentage increase is 9.53%.

Q: How many students stay in residences and how many does Wits have/operate?

A: Wits accommodates 20% of the student population in 18 residences.

Q: Who does not qualify for to stay in a residence?

A: If you stay within an 8km radius of the University, you do not qualify to stay in res.

Q: Are there any race/religious or cultural issues with residences?

A: No, all residences are integrated and have been so for about two decades.

Q: Who gets preference?

A: Wits tries to give preference to first year students to live on campus. This is particularly because first year students often do not know the city and may need more assistance to adapt to university and city life. Each residence has a house committee which forms part of the All Residences Council. A senior staff member also looks after each residence and is there to support and guide students both academically and otherwise. Research has shown that students who live in residences on campus tend to do better academically than day students. This can be attributed partially to the environment, support structures and extra academic and non-academic activities held in residences. For example, Sunday night lectures on various topics by Wits lecturers are hosted in some residences. A strong tutorial system in some residences also sees senior students mentoring first years.

COMMENTS FROM THE WITS VICE-CHANCELLOR AND PRINCIPAL, PROFESSOR ADAM HABIB 

“Only one in seven learners will go on to study at a Higher Education institution and Wits chooses the cream of the crop. We need to address the problems facing the Higher Education system. We need diversification of the system, new universities, FET colleges and others; we need to expand the capacity of Higher Education. 

There has to be post-secondary education such as technikons and artisan training colleges; colleges that focus on vocational training for teachers, nurses, etc.; comprehensive universities that have a strong focus on undergraduate studies; and research-driven universities such as Wits  that traditionally focus on expanding their postgraduate teaching and research capacities in addition to their undergraduate programs.

We have 25 universities in South Africa but we need more. The US has between 5 000 and 6 000 universities. As we celebrate 20 years of democracy this year we also notice that Higher Education in this country has doubled in the last two decades, from 420 000 students to over 900 000 who currently access higher education.

While our student cohort has expanded, our number of academics has stayed more or less the same and we must invest and grow the number of academics needed in higher education and uphold the quality of academic teaching.

The tragedy with secondary education is that whilst more leaners have access today, we lose 50% before they even finish matric, or they don’t pass or they can’t enter university. Our higher education training should also focus on investing in students when they are in the system and improving the throughput rate.”

At Wits we have a no walk-in policy. We do not have any problems. Prospective students apply in advance. We have more than 51 000 applications for just over 6200 first year places. For top students we offer places provisionally awaiting their results and for others we offer places once the results come out.

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