As the country’s institutions of higher learning and training shift into gear for the 2018 academic year, thousands of prospective students seeking placement are turning to the Central Applications Clearing House (CACH).
As of 9am on Wednesday, more than 21 000 inquiries had been lodged with the government run system.
“Because of the high volumes, resources have now be redirected in order to ensure that all people are responded to,” said the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training Buti Manamela.
Deputy Minister Manamela visited the CACH centre in Johannesburg to inspect and get first-hand experience on the operations of the system.
He said contrary to popular misconception, usage of CACH is increasing.
“When you look at student queues at institutions now compared to a few years back, it shows that the system is really working well.”
CACH is the Department of Higher Education and Training’s online application portal designed for Grade 12 students, who are seeking admission to post-school education and training (PSET).
The service assists prospective students by sharing their matric results with public and private further and higher education institutions across the country, including Technical Vocational and Training (TVET) colleges, universities, Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and registered private higher institutions.
Institutions with open study places, technical training opportunities or apprenticeship slots then make them available to the most suitable applicants on the CACH database.
The service opened on Friday following the release of the 2017 matric results and will close on 28 February 2018.
Students who have been declined offers at universities should turn to CACH, which is an ideal route to find a study space that is still available at another institution.
The system also provides a portal for school leavers and other prospective students, who need advice and development services.
The system is designed to help ease pressure on the country’s institutions of higher learning and training, some of which have introduced their own online application systems.
Walk-ins strongly discouraged
While most universities have stood firm against walk-ins, some prospective students on Wednesday still physically went to campuses, hopeful of securing a place this year.
This was the case at the University of Johannesburg’s Kingsway Campus in Auckland Park when Deputy Minister Manamela visited to meet with the university Vice Chancellor, Professor Tshilidzi Marwala and management.
Many students SAnews spoke to at the campus said they were aware that the university said it would not accept any walk-in applications. However, they were experiencing problems with the online system.
“Checking my application status online has proven to be a challenge because it is so slow and [crashes] now and again. It is really frustrating. Every day I have to travel from the Sebokeng to check here. All I want is to see myself studying,” said 19-year-old Luyanda Diko.
UJ registrar Professor Kinta Burger attributed their online system challenges to the heavy traffic from late applications and registration. UJ is only able to accept only 10 500 first-year students.
However, Burger assured that the university management was working around the clock to address these problems.
Additional help for students
In addition to the online application, UJ has established a call centre (011 559 4555) with 100 operators, as well as Wi-Fi facilities for students who cannot access the internet.
Deputy Minister Manamela said in as much as they discourage people from walking in at campuses, it still happens due to anxiety from students.
“We encourage universities to try to attend to those who do walk in,” he said, adding that students must also take into consideration that there is limited space available and the demand is high.
All young people with the required matric qualifications that are still seeking opportunities for 2018 can access CACH’s easy-to-use website at cach.dhet.gov.za or call the toll-free number 0800 356 635.
One can also send a SMS with their name and ID number to 49200 or find CACH on Facebook: www.facebook.com/CACH _S.A.
For students who remain unclear about which career to follow, CACH provides advice and information through DHET’s Khetha Career Development Service website at www.careerhelp.org.za.