The final phase of a one-stop-shop system to handle university and college applications from school-leavers across the country has been announced by the Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande.
Nzimande said that for admission to a tertiary institution in 2014, prospective students would pay a single fee to apply for a spot at multiple institutions – with a single application deadline for all. By 2015, the central applications systems was expected to be fully implemented, with the last phase incorporating the private tertiary sector. The system would then also allow applications for financial aid and student housing.
The system is not new for Kwazulu-Natal which has had a Centrol Applications Office (CAO)for over a decade.
The R 35 million first phase, called ‘Clearing House,’ will seek to make the snaking queues of ‘walk-in’ applications a thing of the past. ‘Clearing House’ will help this year’s Grade 12 pupils who might only apply after receiving their results, or whose applications to the institutions or programme of their are unsuccessful.
The service will electronically channel them to any remaining spaces, and also inform higher learning and training institutions of applicants who fulfil their minimum requirements.
The University of Cape Town said it had not received any official notice from the Department of Higher education with details regarding the new system and would not comment.
The University of the Free State said it had submitted its comment to Nzimande’s office but would not elaborate.
In KZN, first year undergraduate students wanting to study at the University of KZN, University of Zululand, Durban University of Technology and Mangosuthu University of Technology all apply through the applications office.
CAO chief executive George van der Ross said the office received applications from up to 92,000 school leavers, who applied for admissions to six different programmes at six different institutions for a fee of R175.
As the institutions made their selections, the applications office was informed, and then, in turn, notified the applicants whether or not they were offered a place, had to write an application test, or had been rejected.
As for the national rollout of subsequent phases of the system, Van der Ross said stakeholders, including his office, were in the process of negotiating the details.
Bhelekazi Mhlauli, registrar at the Mangosuthu University of Technology, said the applications office saved the university’s admissions department ‘time and stress,’ cut students’ costs, and was ‘very efficient.’