Unam insists on Grade 12 for entry

Josy Nghipandua

The University of Namibia (Unam) has set the record straight, saying a Grade 12 school-leaving certificate is the basic requirement for entry to the university.

Unam will not admit students with Grade 11 only.

Unam’s student recruitment and operations officer, Josy Nghipandua, last week told the Namibian Broad casting Corporation (NBC) that students with Grade 11 certificates would not be admitted to Unam.

Clarifying the matter, Unam spokesperson Simon Namesho said as a “top-ranked and reputable university”, it bases its entry requirements on the national Grade 12 school-leaving certificate.

He said this aligns with the general expectation that one should complete secondary education before embarking on higher education.

“This ensures a seamless transition and alignment between the basic and higher education subsectors, a critical element in an effective and responsive higher education system in any country,” Namesho said.

He said prior to basic education reform, the Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate (NSSC), with a combination of subjects on higher and ordinary level, was offered as a Grade 12 exit qualification.

“As such, it was accepted by the university as part of its admission requirements. In response to the evolving educational requirements and the national education conference of 2010, the NSSCAS level was introduced as the final school-leaving certificate in Namibia,” he said.

According to Namesho, Unam welcomed this reform as it addresses their concerns about the preparedness of NSSCO pupils for university studies.

“The NSSCAS, with its emphasis on depth, breadth of knowledge and critical thinking skills, is closely aligned to the demands of the fourth and fifth Industrial Revolutions for which our new accredited and transformed curricula are designed,” Namesho said.

“Therefore, our current admission criteria are based on a combination of the NSSCAS as the final school-leaving certificate and the NSSCO. This is the norm in countries offering school-leaving certificates at different levels,” he said.

“Our new criteria are not only aligned to international practice, but also to our vision to become a sustainable international hub of excellence in higher education, training, research and innovation by 2030,” Namesho said.

Unam said it believes adhering to these criteria is essential for the transformation of Namibia and the achievement of Vision 2030.

However, Namesho said Unam acknowledges the challenges faced during the implementation of the NSSCAS certificate and is committed to addressing issues of access and equity.

“Therefore, we offer alternative entry pathways and conditional admissions and support to pupils who have completed Grade 12, but do not fully meet the entrance requirements,” he said.

These conditional entry pathways also apply to pupils who have completed Grade 12 under the old system, including those who have completed only ordinary level subjects, to ensure that no pupil is left behind.

Simon Namesho


Namesho urged pupils who have excelled in the NSSCO examinations and wish to pursue university studies to progress to NSSCAS level.
He said this is essential for success at university.

It is crucial for pupils to be well-informed about Unam’s admission requirements to ensure they are fully prepared and qualified for the academic journey ahead, he said.

“We understand the concerns of parents and pupils. It is imperative for Unam to maintain high academic standards for the greater good of the university and the nation,” Namesho said.


Former minister of education, culture and sport Nahas Angula says to enter university one must have five years of secondary school education.

“Those who want shortcuts to put people in university with Grade 11 certificates, I do not know what their purpose is. In any case, Unam is an autonomous organisation formed by an act of parliament” he says.

Angula says the university has the right to determine its entry requirements.

“It is up to the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture to adhere to those requirements. I am even perplexed by the fact that the ministry when announcing the results say people who qualified for tertiary education. What does that mean?” he asks.

Angula says tertiary institutions and faculties have different entry requirements.

“Unam is totally correct to say that. People must adhere to national standards. You must have a Grade 12 certificate or have done advanced level. Full stop. If they do not want advanced level, they could have added Grade 13,” he says.

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) parliamentarian Maximalliant Katjimune says: “The people who are behind the implementation of this new curriculum did not do enough consultation on it. Unam offers a significant majority of professional courses.”

He says qualifications are monitored by professional bodies such as the Law Society, the Health Professions Council of Namibia and others.

“These bodies will be concerned about the quality of intakes for their programmes at institutions of higher learning. Unam has the right to protect these professional programmes,” he says.

“It is not Unam’s fault that not enough consultation was done before they implemented the new curricula. If need be, let’s get rid of this messy curriculum and go back to the old curriculum,” he says.


Students Union of Namibia president Bebrard Kavau says not every child excels at advanced subsidiary level, adding that pupils learn at different paces.

“There are a lot of things these requirements have that are not eligible to pupils. We totally disagree with Unam for blocking pupils with Grade 11 who excelled.

“Encourage pupils who are unable to continue to Grade 12 and know their abilities and feel Grade 11 is fine. Unam is not the only institution.”


The Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) is one of the public institutions that admits pupils with Grade 11 certificates.

Nust spokesperson Johannes Haufiku says as long as pupils have good marks, they are eligible.

“As long as they have passed well and have high marks and points, they are welcome. It also depends on the programmes they want to do, but it is not ideal when one wants to do science subjects.

“Visit our website for admission requirements,” he says.

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