There are fifty registered and accredited public FET Colleges in South Africa which operate close on 300 campuses spread across the rural and urban areas of the country. Public FET Colleges are established and operated under the authority of the Further Education and Training Colleges Act 16 of 2006 and resort under the Department of Higher Education and Training. Public FET Colleges are subsidised by the state with approximately R4billion per year. Each Province has an office that provides specialised professional support to the public FET Colleges in that province. There are considerably more than 300 000 students in public FET Colleges.
Courses offered at public FET Colleges are externally and independently quality assured by the Quality Assurer under whom the particular education and training programme or course resorts. In addition, a number of public FET Colleges are also SABS ISO 9001:2008 certified.
Examination, Assessment and Certification for core programmes is co-ordinated by the Department of Higher Education and Training. Other programmes/courses will have examination, assessment and certification subject to the various independent quality assurers under whom the specific learning programme/course resorts.
Professional student support services are available at most public FET Colleges. New students may be required to complete a competency assessment on enrolment. This will assist the college to determine the most suitable learning and support programmes for the prospective student. Generally, the student support is focused on both academic and the broader social/psychological needs of students.
Department of Higher Education and Training bursaries are available for National Certificate Vocational courses and Report 191 (NATED or ‘N’) courses at public FET Colleges to students who meet the criteria. These bursaries are not loans. The bursaries are administered by the National Student Financial Aid Service (NSFAS). Other bursaries are also available, which will vary from college to college. Prospective students should enquire at the college at which you plan to enrol as to what bursaries are available for the course that you would like to study.
Department of Higher Education and Training, FET College bursaries that are administered by the NSFAS, are readily available but are subject to two important criteria. Namely, the prospective student will be required to undergo a ‘means test’ that will indicate that the student really does need financial assistance and secondly, that the student has a good academic performance record. Prospective students who believe that they may meet these criteria should contact their nearest public FET College. The college will provide the application forms and oversee the application process.
Various modes of delivery exist at the colleges, depending on the nature of the course. Some colleges also offer blended learning (e-learning) facilities for some course content. A number of the larger campuses have Open Learning Centres. Further information can be given by the college on this aspect when applying or enrolling for course admission.
In an effort to ensure that courses are responsive to the needs of commerce and industry, public colleges go to great lengths to secure linkages and partnerships with key role-players in commerce and industry and with the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA’s). A number of colleges have a management division devoted to this aspect.
Public FET colleges try as far as possible to facilitate job shadowing and practical workplace opportunities for top performing students. Many campuses also operate simulated enterprises to augment the need for practical exposure related to the course of study.
In an increasingly globalised labour market, a number of public FET Colleges have international partnerships with similar institutions in various parts of the world. This ensures that education and training is internationally benchmarked with best practice in diverse international settings