LMI programme > Publications

The post-matriculation enrolment decision: Do public colleges provide students with a viable alternative?

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Corporate author/s:

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), Education, Science and Skills Development Research Programme; Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET); Labour Market Intelligence Partnership (LMIP)

Person/s author/s:

Khan, Amy; Branson, Nicola


research report



This paper uses National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) data for the period 2008 to 2015, together with administrative data on South African schools and post-secondary institutions, to estimate the relationship between enrolment in post-secondary education and home background, school quality and scholastic ability during a learner's final years of schooling. We analyse enrolment patterns across for each of three institution types separately, namely public universities, public technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges, and private colleges. In the light of government's current policy to expand TVET colleges over the next two decades, we focus specifically on this institutional category. In particular, we investigate the role of financial constraints in the enrolment decision in order to assess the viability of the plan to expand postsecondary education via the TVET sector. Through a series of multinomial logit regressions, we find that household income during the matric year is highly significant in determining enrolment in all types of post-secondary institutions, including TVETs. Individual ability (as measured by numeracy-test scores) is also important in explaining enrolment in both universities and TVETs, even after controlling for socio-economic background and school-quality variables. These findings suggest that increasing the number of places available at TVET colleges without expanding funding opportunities and assessing the level of course content is unlikely to result in the target of 2.5 million learners in TVETs by 2030 being met.

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