Admission Requirements: is there any Leeway?

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So you’re applying to study at a tertiary institution and come across the ‘Admission Requirements’. What are they and what do they mean for you? Let’s find out!

Application season is in full swing.  If you haven’t applied yet, there’s no better time to get cracking.  Don’t let the checklist of requirements stop you from reaching for your future.  

Admission Requirements: The Purpose

Admission requirements are a set of standards that  tertiary institutions use as a way of filtering through thousands of applications for a limited number of positions to study. These admission requirements vary from institution to institution and it is important for you to take note of this when applying to study. For example, a matric average of 70% may get you into Stellenbosch University for Commerce but not into the University of Cape Town (UCT). 

Furthermore, admission requirements don’t only refer to your matric average. There are often prerequisites set in place. An example of this could be that, in addition to a 70% average, an applicant would need to have passed Pure Mathematics  at 60% or higher in order to pursue studies in Commerce.

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Admission Requirements: What are they?

Admission requirements vary from faculty to faculty and institution to institution. In general, it will be easier to get into the Humanities faculty than the Commerce faculty as the Humanities faculty doesn’t require high mathematics marks. The same goes for admission to a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College compared to a University because TVET colleges are less strict on required subjects and focus more on practical skills-based teaching.

As of August 1st, 2018, the minimum entry requirements to study a Bachelor’s Degree at a tertiary level have been lowered. The minimum requirements are now:

  1. A minimum of 30% in the language of learning and teaching 
  2. A minimum of 40% in the home language of the student
  3. Achieving 50-59% in four recognised 20-credit NSC subjects (excluding Life Orientation and languages)
  4. Achieving 30% or higher for two other recognised 20-credit NSC subjects (excluding Life Orientation)

Admission Requirements: by Faculty

As mentioned, Admission Requirements vary from faculty to faculty. How so?  Well, we are now going to give you a general overview of what to expect from each faculty with regards to guaranteed admission.

  1. Commerce

  • NSC average of 80% or higher
  • NBT scores of upper-intermediate for AL and QL
  • Pure Mathematics  at 60%
  • English home language at 50%
  • English first additional language at 60%

    2.  Engineering
  • NSC average of 83% or higher
  • Pure Mathematics  at 75% or higher
  • Physical Science at 70% or higher
  • NBT scores of proficient for Al, QL, and Mathematics


    3.  Health Sciences

  • The admission requirements for Health Sciences are a bit more tricky. Take a look here to find out more (please note: this is a UCT guideline).
  • However, an NSC average of 85% or higher along with 80% for Pure Mathematics, Life Sciences and Physical Science is advised.


    4.  Humanities

  • NSC average of 75% or higher
  • NBT score of proficient for AL


    5.  Law

  • NSC average of 85% or higher
  • NBT score of proficient for AL
  • NBT score of intermediate for QL


    6.  Science

  • The admission requirements for Science are a bit more tricky. Take a look here to find out more (please note: this is a UCT guideline).
  • However, an NSC average of 85% or higher along with 80% for Mathematics Pure and Physical Science is advised.

Remember that this is a brief overview of faculty requirements and they could vary from institution to institution.

Admission Requirements: is There Leeway?

Admission Points Scores (APS) and Faculty Points Scores (FPS) are guidelines put in place to aid Universities in combing through the applications of prospective students. We advise you to research what you want to study and whether or not there are any concessions in your favour.  For example, there are oftentimes different admission criteria for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Remember, some institutions allow for a leeway of a few points if there is still room for a particular course of study. 

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Applying to study at a tertiary level does not need to frighten you! Get researching now and take the first steps towards finding out what you are and are not able to study. You’ll be amazed at the opportunities out there for you!

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