KZN’s answer to snaking queues

2012-01-14 17:17

Chaos and snaking queues in sweltering heat resulting from late applications have become synonymous with university opening every year.

It took an unfortunate stampede at the University of Johannesburg this week to spin the department of higher education into action, making them vow to end the chaos.

By next year, the department has promised to centralise applications to universities across the country
– something that the Central Application Office (CAO) has been doing for institutions of higher learning in KwaZulu-Natal for years.

The CAO came about when the existing eight tertiary institutions in the province collaborated on issues of common interest – including the application process.

CAO chief executive Dr Ann Knock said: “Applicants benefit greatly from the ‘one form, one fee and one office approach’, particularly those whose initial choices are out of their reach. We handle the clerical aspect
of processing applications, matching exam results and communicating with applicants. And that frees staff at institutions to concentrate only on the selection process.”

The Central Application Office produces a handbook and maintains a database-listing of all academic programmes available at participating institutions. The handbook is then sent to about 8?500 high schools nationally and distributed at career expos.

Entrants have up to six career choices at any combination of institutions. The CAO then processes the applications, following up on any missing information and matching details with matric results received from the national department of basic education.

Decisions on the success of applications is made by the institutions and then communicated back to students by the CAO.

According to Knock, one of their challenges initially was establishing credibility with institutions by proving that no bias would be involved in their dealings. She said a national service with regional offices could work since many students study outside their home provinces.

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