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There’s hope for those who don’t meet the university admission requirements

Published Jan 20, 2022

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Matrics who didn’t quite meet the admission requirements need not despair or give up.

Yusuf Manzine gives great advice for matrics who are in a similar predicament.

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Here is his story.

Manzini, 24, is a final-year civil engineering student.

He attended Rosebank Progress College, where he took maths, physics, biology (life sciences), art (with an art theory component as well as the practical) and the three standard subjects – English home language, Afrikaans first additional language and life orientation (LO).

Manzini passed well enough in matric, but the problem was with his maths mark (69%) as he needed a 70% for conditional acceptance at UCT and Stellenbosch University (SU), so he was one mark short of the criteria.

Manzini’s mother drove him to SU, where he managed to get included in an extended degree programme.

UCT has recently introduced a programme wherein students who do well enough in their June exams meet the next threshold, if they passed.

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Manzini wanted to study civil engineering for a long time.

As his physics marks were good, he was grateful for the advice he received to take the Extended Degree Programme (EDP).

He was fortunate enough to be entrusted to Minnaar Pienaar, who handles the counselling and social side of engineering and also helps students struggling with anxiety and depression.

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Manzini observes that more measures were put into place since then to help students who are struggling along the way.

The extended degree programme has an additional year in conjunction with the standard programme, so students do not enter the standard EDP year straight away.

During this year, students experienced a mix of modules as a stepping stone to improve their abilities, consisting of a mix of BSc and engineering modules.

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Once students enter the normal four-year programme, they have improved their skills to the extent that they seldom struggle to perform during the standard first-year requirements.

However, when students graduate, they receive a normal civil engineering degree.

When Manzini found himself on the threshold just below requirements but having attained conditional acceptance if his matric marks made the grade, he was initially despondent as his matric grades were not as good as he expected.

Getting into UCT would have been convenient in terms of living closer to home, but the opportunity to go to SU with the recruitment bursary offered meant that the course fees were covered and he just had to pay living expenses.

The stipulation accompanying the recruitment bursary involves meeting academic requirements in order to keep the bursary. Manzini lasted two years, but found a 65% aggregate too hard to maintain.

He did, however, manage to achieve a life balance by participating in the sports and social activities presented by living in university residences.

Manzini says he is not generally a very sociable person, but the activities offered made it easier to meet people.

He wants his younger sister to attend residence too, as the welcoming week orientation makes it easier to meet people with the same subject in a more natural setting.

He observes that the only drawback with the extended programme is that further in, people he would have bonded with from KZN and the Eastern Cape, and a few friends from Kenya, had parted ways as they had finished a year earlier.

He hopes they will meet again.

Manzini was able to qualify for the Masakh'iSizwe bursary offered by the Department of Transport and Public Works, after he lost his recruitment bursary after failing two or three modules and dropping his aggregate.

He applied to a few places, but an organisation got back to him with details of this bursary for civil engineers, architects, town planners and those involved in any way with public works and construction.

They will pay up until Manzini’s final year, and then there is a work back period, the duration of which is equal to the years for which they paid.

This is advantageous in terms of experience as Manzini observes it is tough to get a job in the construction field without experience.

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