Dr Felicity Coughlan

Prospective students rushing to sign up for 2017s hottest courses

By in Education, Research, Policy on July 28, 2016

Surprising trends are emerging from early applications to South Africa’s leading private higher education institutions, from Matrics who want to pursue tertiary study next year.

“Of particular interest is that a full 30% of early enquiries about primary education degrees have been from males, signalling a sustained and increasing interest in teaching as a profession from young men,” says Dr Felicity Coughlan, Director of The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest and most accredited private higher education institution.

“This is a very positive development for the future of education in the country, where strong role models of both genders are needed. It also signals a changing of perception about the opportunities in the education sector,” she says.

Coughlan says that trends in applications are often a clear measure of young people’s perceptions about career opportunities in the immediate future, in addition to their views about the most in demand skills in the workplace.

“It is also good to notice that prospective students are increasingly being more pro-active earlier in the year, registering early to avoid the end-of-year rush and allowing them to focus on their final exams.”

From an analysis of the application trends at Rosebank College, Varsity College and Vega School of Brand Leadership, which collectively educate more than 26 000 students annually, the following can be seen:

At Rosebank College, 58% of applications to date are from women. The Faculty of Commerce came out tops with most prospects applying to do a Diploma in Business Management or a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, while 63% of applicants for the Bachelor of Business Administration Degree are women.

Journalism is also a popular choice as is Public Relations, with the field dominated by females at 72%.

The most popular IT programme is the Diploma in Software Development, and Faculty of ICT applications are male dominated at 71%.

“Software development is a very popular choice, as young people recognise the wealth of opportunity such a qualification provides in the digital era, with much activity in the media today revolving around technology and the development of applications,” notes Coughlan.

And with the government being one of the country’s biggest employers, it is no secret why there is also immense interest in the Bachelor of Public Administration degree, with 67% of applications coming from women.

Mirroring the trend of women wanting to get their foot in the higher education door early, 63% of enquiries to Varsity College were from women. Analytics show that they also generally spend more time to investigate their options more broadly.

Business is also a hot favourite at this institution, followed by education. The third most popular qualification is the Bachelor of Commerce in Law.

At Vega, a new qualification, the Bachelor of Computer and Information Sciences in Game Design and Development Degree, is getting a lot of interest, due to the massive projected growth the sector is set to experience, and the great earning potential combined with relative flexibility of being able to work from anywhere in the world.

“Since most of the early applications are from women, the registration profile is still somewhat skewed. Even so, it is no longer unusual for women to represent 60% of the student body, and still significant that they already make up a substantial majority of ICT and Commerce applications. Due to the fact that the ratio has not changed, the increase in applications from women towards business management and IT related qualifications is a real increase and not just a proportional change in the number of applicants,” says Coughlan.

“It should also be noted that applications for qualifications in the communication industry, such as journalism and public relations, have long been dominated by women – making men in these industries quite employable as they are not as prevalent.

“Interestingly, less than a third of enquiries about new spaces such as gaming are from women, who may not yet be aware of the huge demand for female developers in the industry.”