Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Congestion is deadly in South Africa university admissions

We're accustomed to seeing market failures due to congestion, but seldom so clearly as in the last round of admissions at the University of Johannesburg, where the BBC reports

"One person has died after a stampede broke out among crowds of people trying to enrol at a university in the South African city of Johannesburg."
"Tuesday's incident occurred as students queued for last-minute places at the university, registrar Marie Muller told eNews channel.
"We rushed the gates and people fell. We couldn't stop," said Mr Matiba, who was trying to enrol for a BSc degree in Zoology.
Mr Matiba said prospective students were desperate and felt left without any alternative other than storming the entrance.
"We need education. We need to register. We needed to get inside," he said.
An eyewitness who spoke to BBC News said the numbers queuing were especially high because the queue combined new applicants and students returning for further study.
The eyewitness - who did not want to be named - said people had travelled to the university from around the country, many making overnight journeys.
She said there had been a similar crush on Monday, and that when it started to happen again on Tuesday "we just ran away because we knew we we were going to get hurt".
The University of Johannesburg, which describes itself as "one of the largest, multi-campus, residential universities in South Africa", was created when several institutions merged in 2005.
It is reported to be one of few which accept last-minute applications in January, after high-school final exams are released and some students realise they are eligible for university.
It used an SMS campaign to alert students to the possibility of last-minute places and on Monday, the normally quiet streets around the university's Bunting Road campus entrance were packed with traffic and a kilometre-long line of applicants had formed at the main gate."

HT: Sven Seuken

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