Talks: Ahmed Bawa, CEO of Universities SA which represents 26 institutions, said the body would meet the EFF next week in a bid to avoid campus chaos. Picture: SUPPLIED
Talks: Ahmed Bawa, CEO of Universities SA which represents 26 institutions, said the body would meet the EFF next week in a bid to avoid campus chaos. Picture: SUPPLIED

Scores of students in a last-minute rush to secure places at universities and colleges have been unable to access the Department of Higher Education and Training’s online registration system as a result of technical glitches.

The Central Applications System (CAS)‚ designed to help students who have not been offered a place at an institution to which they have applied‚ experienced problems soon after it was launched on Friday.

The system is expected to be under immense pressure following the agreement reached by Universities SA and the department to allow walk-ins and late applications. However‚ the organisation said queuing in the sun was not the recommended approach and referred applicants to the central online application system.

Universities SA has buckled under pressure from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on walk-in applications for the 2018 registration period. In a statement released on Wednesday, the body that represents 26 of SA’s tertiary institutions clarified the decision taken at Monday’s meeting with the Department of Higher Education to allow walk-in applications.

Universities with the capacity to accept students will process walk-in applications where there is a match between the candidate’s choice and academic programmes with space.

Universities SA has asked institutions that have already reached enrolment capacity to set up facilities to help prospective students access the department’s application system.

The EFF called on prospective students who did not apply in 2017 due to lack of funding to descend on university campuses from this week to demand places, following President Jacob Zuma’s December announcement of free tertiary education for poor students.

Universities SA CEO Ahmed Bawa said the body would meet EFF officials next week to avoid possible upsets at campuses.

In a separate statement on Wednesday, the University of Johannesburg, which experienced massive queues of late applicants earlier in the week, urged prospective students to use its online system to access information about programmes and application processes.

Higher education spokeswoman Matshepo Seedat said the department had received several reports from frustrated students.

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