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Tens of thousands of matric learners face rejection in 2021 as South Africa's state-funded public universities are unable to meet the demand for spaces.

UCT receives eight times the number of applications (32 000 applicants with only 4200 spots available) that it can accommodate, with the pressure even greater for in-demand degrees like medicine, engineering, education, accounting, law and social work. Other universities also report similar ratios, for instance at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) they receive ten times the number of applications (91 000 applicants with only 8770 spots available). Wits University receives 14 times the number of applications (70 349 applicants with only 5000 spots available).

However, education specialists have urged parents and matric learners to consider pursuing tertiary qualifications outside of the public system with institutions registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).

"Many people erroneously believe you can only get a degree, or even a doctorate, at a university" says STADIO Higher Education Chief Academic Officer, Divya Singh.

"This is not correct. Private higher education institutions like STADIO which are registered with DHET, offer accredited qualifications of equal quality to the public institutions," she says.

Government regulations only allow for public higher education institutions to call themselves 'universities' even though the Council on Higher Education (CHE) accredits all programmes from both public and private, and the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) applies the same standards to register qualifications from both private and public higher education institutions.

As an example, STADIO offers degrees in business, law, management, IT, media and design, fashion, policing and education, amongst others.

Says Dr Singh "This is why matriculants should not despair as there is now an excellent range of private tertiary offerings that can accommodate them and offer considerable benefit including distance and contact learning enabled by state-of-the-art online platforms and systems".

In addition, learners who do not achieve a Bachelor's Pass can complete a Higher Certificate which will then grant them access to further tertiary options, including degreed courses.

Dr Singh believes that individualised and adaptive learning is key to ensuring high quality outcomes and student success: "We're committed to the principle of access with success, and focus on providing rigorous, affordable and occupationally-relevant programmes, promoting graduate employability."

STADIO Higher Education (the consolidation of Southern Business School, Embury, LISOF, and Prestige Academy) has five faculties across ten campuses, offering over fifty accredited qualifications to more than 20,000 students via contact learning or distance learning. It also provides qualifications up to doctorate level in several faculties.

Courses are available in Commerce; Administration and Management; Education; Arts and Design; Science and Technologies; and Law.