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A student in South Africa sits at their desk

Gradesmatch Helps Young People in South Africa Access Higher Ed

Project Overview

For young people in South Africa, earning a university degree is one of the best ways to secure meaningful work in the highly competitive economy. Yet only two-thirds of Grade 12 students qualify for university, and just one-third of those will attend right after high school. Gradesmatch makes it easier for students from low-income backgrounds to apply to university and identify in-demand career options.

The organization uses technology to help students plan their career paths, apply for admissions and financial aid, coordinate their exams, and track their applications. It also provides financial assistance with registration fees. Gradesmatch aims to support 10% of South Africa’s university entrants from low-income backgrounds by 2023, propelling them toward successful future employment.

I have always wanted to study at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Due to my financial background it was a far-fetched dream because I couldn’t afford to pay for the registration fee. I was assisted by Gradesmatch in applying to UCT and am more than grateful to Gradesmatch for their services.

Ayanda Ndlovu, University of Cape Town Student

How It Helps

Gradesmatch helps young people access higher education and prepare to stand out among their peers in South Africa’s competitive job market. The country has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world, and university graduates are better positioned to get strong jobs and begin building their careers. Gradesmatch gives students the support and guidance they need to enroll in university and explore viable career paths that are in-demand and suit their interests.

This assistance is especially valuable for students from low-income backgrounds. Research shows that the journey from education to employment is complicated — and many young people get lost along the way. Most South African students from low-income backgrounds attend lower performing public schools, have few options for university application and career guidance, and lack a robust personal network of support.

Gradesmatch provides Grade 12 students with Bridge by Gradesmatch, a user-friendly, tech-enabled career advice and application service. The service helps students identify career paths that match their abilities and are in high-demand fields. It processes students’ applications for up to four universities, supports their applications for financial aid, and coordinates booking for their National Benchmark Assessments. Students say the approach helps to ease their stress about getting into university and allows them to focus on their exams.

Gradesmatch’s impact continues to deepen across South Africa. The organization supported 860 students in 2019 and 7,500 in 2020. It now aims to help at least 25,000 Grade 12 learners enroll in university over the next two years and substantially improve their opportunities for future career success.

Foundation Project Lead