It is your final year of school – congratulations! We trust you will make the best of it. By now, you have either made your choice about where you are going, or you are still confused about what you want to study and what you want to do with your life. FET or university, private or public, practical or theoretical learning, arts or sciences… the choices are endless and overwhelming so we are going to break down all the different types of tertiary education institutions, and what courses they offer. Let’s begin!
FET is an acronym for Further Education and Training. If you scratch through the fancy terminology, you will find that all it actually means is that an FET provides practical training in a variety of different areas. These areas include, but are not limited to:
• Information Technology and Information Science
• Finance, Economics and Accounting
• Electrical Infrastructure Construction
• Civil Engineering and Building Construction
• Engineering and Related Design
• Primary Agriculture
• Office Administration
All these courses provide an education in both theoretical and practical mediums. The common misconception about FET colleges is that the education is inferior, which is not true at all. If you are a practical person and you learn better by doing than reading through pages and pages of information, then studying at an FET college is probably a better option for you.
The second type of institution you can receive tertiary education from is a university. While you may be forgiven for thinking a university is a university, it is not. In South Africa we have three types of universities. These are traditional, comprehensive and university of technology.
• A traditional university offers degrees and diplomas as well as offers students the opportunity to further their studies to masters’ and doctoral levels.
• A comprehensive university offers degrees and diplomas but without the option to study to the masters’ and doctoral levels.
• And finally, a university of technology offers degrees and diplomas that include practical as well as theoretical studies.
What university you wish to attend depends entirely on what level of education you wish to achieve. So, for instance, if you want to become a doctor, it would be compulsory for you to further your studies at a traditional university. Most universities offer similar courses with a few offering specialised courses such as medicine or aeronautical engineering, so unless you wish to study something very specialised, most universities will offer a course that suits you.
Traditional universities are universities that offer you the option to study further once receiving your bachelor’s degree. For example, once you have completed your Bachelor of Arts degree at a traditional university, you have the option to study towards an Honours, Masters or Doctorate level.
Comprehensive universities offer your regular degrees, diplomas and certificates but unlike traditional universities, you do not have the option to study further into Honours, Masters and Doctorate levels. Additionally, if you want to study at these high levels of education at a traditional university, you will more often than not need to complete a bridging course.
Finally, a university of technology is based on the same principles as FET colleges, offering courses based mostly on practical education. Universities of technology offer select courses which offer degrees, diplomas and certificates across a few specialised faculties.
Private institutions offer an alternative to university tuition. There are many different private tertiary education institutions in South Africa, many offer degree courses that are accredited by other institutions such as the University of South Africa, and others such as Monash offer international degrees locally.
Most private institutions are specialised, this means they offer courses within a specific field of practice. International Hotel School is an example of this as they offer different courses that focus on hospitality and hospitality management.
(Originally published in the 2013 edition of the Future Guide on pages 15, 40, 42 and 44)