DRIVERS … Joining NMMU’s Prof Heather Nel (second from right) are members of the Department of Higher Education and Training’s steering committee for the new Central Application Service (CAS), (from left) Dr Ann Braine, Isaac Lephalala, Dr Engela van Staden, Prof Heather Nel, and Chris Elfick.
That's the word from the Department of Higher Education steering committee, which visited Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) to share an overview of progress made in implementing a one-stop application centre to service all students, in the first of nine regional visits throughout South Africa.
Delegates from NMMU, Rhodes, Walter Sisulu and Fort Hare were joined by representatives from Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges for the 4 May workshop.
Work on the proposed system to offer prospective students easier application access to higher education began seriously in 2010 and was approved in principle by government at the end of March this year.
"We anticipate between 600 000 and 700 000 applicants. Apart from making access easier, as students need only apply once with a choice of up to 10 universities or colleges, there is also a big need to consolidate information in a single place and process," Dr Engela van Staden, Chief Director: University Academic Planning and Managerial Support for DHET, told about 80 delegates at last week’s workshop.
The proposed CAS system was originally only aimed at the country's 26 universities. It was recently expanded to include other post-school education options.
The workshop offered an overview of the system’s service models, its governance, operating procedures, supporting ICT structures, its human resources management model and how the service would be monitored and evaluated.
According to the DHET team, the next steps include liaising further with those involved to standardise the system by forming an admissions practitioners’ user group, as well as to identify further technical support for the online system. DHET will be working more closely with the TVET colleges moving forward.
Following DHET ministerial approval, the policy framework for the CAS system will be shared for further public comment before the new service goes to cabinet in the form of a bill. This is planned for June next year.
Given the complexities and scale of the proposed service, CAS will be rolled out using a phased approach, starting with the universities in KwaZulu-Natal, as they already run such a system.
This is planned for 1 April 2019 for the 2020 academic year.
"We want to start on a manageable level and do it properly. We don't want to destroy the credibility of the service before it has even started," said Dr Van Staden.
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Port Elizabeth, 6031, South Africa
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