Johannesburg - University applications will be better managed and the number of walk-ins at universities reduced, thanks to establishment of a 'Clearing House' which was announced by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande.
The Clearing House is just the first phase of the Central Applications System (CAS) being set up by the department, which will manage all post school education and training institution (PSET) applications, Nzimande told journalists on Thursday.
The CAS will help to deal with the challenge posed by students who only decide in January to start looking for placement at tertiary institutions, as well as those who look to other institutions once they are turned away by their first choice.
The fully functional CAS is expected to be fully implemented during 2014 but the Clearing House will offer support and guidance to 2012 matric learners.
Its main purpose will be to help those who want to study next year but haven't applied, those who have applied and haven't been accept yet or at all.
"It will provide electronic information to channel applicants to places that are still available within the Higher Education and Training institutions, while at the same time, informing institutions of possible applicants that fulfil those institutions' minimum admission requirements," said Nzimande.
Implementation of the Clearing House will be supported by the already working and established Career Advice call centre that is managed by SAQA.
The call centre operates on a toll-free line (0860 111 673), SMS line (072 204 5056) that also accepts 'please call me' requests from learners and a website portal.
The Clearing House is targeting students who have been successful in their applications this year, and those who will only start looking for admission after receiving their Grade 12 results.
"These groups of students will be redirected through the Clearing House facility to a variety of educational spaces within the PSET systems ranging from spaces still available at other universities, to FET Colleges and learnerships within the SETAs," Nzimande added.
The Clearing House is an attempt to better manage walk-ins, which will not be dealt with through an electronic system that can accommodate multiple applications and communicate directly with the applicants.
A media campaign which will run from the end of the month up until January will raise awareness about the Clearing House. More information about it will also be made available to prospective students, parents and communities soon.
Looking ahead, the minister said a completed design of a fully functional CAS will be achieved during 2013 with planned full implementation during 2014, for the 2015 cohort intake.
The last phase of the project will enable applications to private providers of higher education and training.
"The system will provide valuable planning information to the institutions, regions and the DHET. The most critical element for an application service such as envisaged is the need to integrate the various facets of the application process to include an academic place of study, financial aid and student housing. These three application destination will be synchronised and integrated under the CAS," he added.
In 2013 (for 2014 admissions), this service will introduce a standardised application fee, as well as one closing date for all applications to universities.
The minister also wished matric pupils success in their exams and encouraged them to apply to higher education institutions now.
The department, through its Apply Now! Ketha campaign has been encouraging pupils to do so since April.
He urged those pupils who were still not sure about their future after school to get in touch with the department by:
* Calling 0800 872 222 / 0860 111 673;
* Sending a SMS or please call me to 072 204 5056 or on the mobi site - mobi.careerhelp.org.za;
* Making contact on facebook (www.facebook.com/careerhelp), twitter (www.twitter/nqfcareerhelp) or www.dhetfacebook.gov.za; or
* Making use of the walk-in service at 1067 Arcadia Street, Hatfield, Pretoria.