Tertiary Acceptance – How good do my marks need to be?

We all know that nail biting time.  You have applied to a university or university of technology.  You know that they have your application but you don’t know if they will accept you.   What are your chances?  Unlike playing the Lottery, acceptance to university isn’t just good luck.  Universities have particular things they are looking for.  These include the subjects you have taken, the marks you have for those subjects and your overall average.   This blog takes some of the mystery out of tertiary acceptance.  

Institutes try to be very clear with you about their requirements.  You can find out about their requirements by looking for your institute’s “prospectus” on google.  The prospectus outlines all the entrance criteria per course.    If finding the answer in the midst of the 120 page document is a challenge, try “CTRL F”.  This will open a “find” box where you can type the name of the course you are looking for.    For a more detailed look at your university and university of technology possibilities, you can use Course Chooser.  This awesome online tool allows you to enter all your subjects and most recent results and see what you are eligible for in the field of your choice.

Obviously some courses are harder to get into than others.  Degrees in Medicine, Actuarial Science and Business Science (Information Systems) are among the more challenging in terms of university entrance marks.  Practical, vocationally oriented National Diplomas offered by Universities of Technology at some Universities tend to be easier to access.   The following table shows the average entrance marks at South African institutes in 2008, based on clever research from Stellenbosch University.


Institute Average Acceptance Range Qualification Level
UCT 71-81% Degree
US 68-80% Degree
UP 65-78% Degree
WITS 64-75% Degree
RHODES 64-74% Degree
UKZN 62-76% Degree
NWU 58-73% Degree
UFS 59-71% Degree
UL 56-65% Degree
NMMU 52-66% Degree & Diploma
UJ 52-65% Degree & Diploma
UWC 53-64% Degree
UNIVEN 54-61% Degree
DUT 52-64% Degree & Diploma
UNISA 50-66% Degree & Diploma
UFH 52-61% Degree
CPUT 51-62% Degree & Diploma
MUT 51-61% Degree & Diploma
UZ 48-60% Degree & Diploma
TUT 49-59% Degree & Diploma
CUT 48-59% Degree & Diploma
VUT 48-59% Degree & Diploma
WSU 45-55% Degree & Diploma

What does this mean?  This means that the average person who was accepted across all courses at the listed institute, had marks in the range described.  Some people had more, some people had less.  Some courses REQUIRE more, some courses require less.   For example, at institutes offering both diplomas and degrees, a degree requires higher marks for entrance than a diploma.  The mark range gives you an indication though of where you need to aim to be able to study at this institute.  You still need to check the prospectus for specific details for your course of study.   To understand more about the acceptance process, read this blog.

To have the best chance of tertiary acceptance, always apply for something that you can definitely get into based on your end of Grade 11 marks as well as the course you most want to get into based on your hoped for matric marks.




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