Comprehensive Guide to CAO Applications in South Africa

The Central Applications Office (CAO) handles applications for various universities, universities of technology, and TVET colleges in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This guide provides detailed information on the application process for 2025, including key dates, steps for applying, checking application status, and other relevant details.

1. Key Dates for CAO Applications 2025

  • Application Opening Date: Applications for 2025 typically open in March of the preceding year (2024). Exact dates will be published on the CAO website.
  • Early Application Closing Date: The closing date for early applications is usually at the end of September 2024.
  • Late Application Closing Date: Late applications are generally accepted until January 2025, but specific deadlines may vary by institution and program.

2. How to Apply

Step 1: Obtain the CAO Handbook
  • Download Online: The CAO Handbook can be downloaded from the CAO website CAO Handbook 2025.
  • Physical Copy: Hard copies are available at participating institutions and selected bookstores.

The handbook contains important information about available programs, entry requirements, and application procedures.

Step 2: Prepare Required Documents

Before starting your application, ensure you have the following documents ready:

  • Certified copy of your ID or passport
  • Certified copies of your academic transcripts and certificates
  • Proof of payment for the application fee
Step 3: Complete the Application Form

You can apply to the CAO either online or by submitting a paper application form.

Online Application
  1. Visit the CAO Website: Go to CAO Website.
  2. Create an Account: Register by providing your personal details and creating a username and password.
  3. Fill Out the Form: Log in and complete the online application form, providing all required information about your personal details, academic history, and program choices.
  4. Upload Documents: Upload the necessary documents as specified.
  5. Pay Application Fee: Pay the non-refundable application fee via the online payment options available.
Paper Application
  1. Download and Print the Form: Download the application form from the CAO website or obtain a hard copy from a participating institution.
  2. Fill Out the Form: Complete the form manually, ensuring all details are accurate.
  3. Attach Documents: Include certified copies of all required documents.
  4. Pay Application Fee: Attach proof of payment of the application fee.
  5. Submit the Form: Mail or deliver the completed form and documents to the CAO office.
Step 4: Choose Your Programs

You can apply for multiple programs through the CAO. Applicants are allowed to list up to six program choices in order of preference. Ensure you meet the minimum entry requirements for each program.

3. Checking Your Application Status

  1. Online Status Check:
  • Visit the CAO Website: Log in to your account on the CAO website.
  • Application Status: Navigate to the section where you can view the status of your application and see updates or additional requirements from institutions.
  1. SMS Service: You can also check your application status by sending an SMS with your CAO number to a specified number (details available on the CAO website).
  2. Contact CAO: If you have any issues or need further assistance, you can contact the CAO directly via email (enquiries@cao.ac.za) or phone (031 268 4444).

4. Important Considerations

Application Fee
  • Amount: The application fee for early applications is generally lower than for late applications. Refer to the CAO Handbook for the exact fees.
  • Payment Methods: Fees can be paid via bank deposit, EFT, or online payment methods as specified by the CAO.
Program Changes
  • Changing Program Choices: You can change your program choices by logging into your CAO account or submitting a written request before the application closing date. Fees may apply for changes made after submission.
Supporting Documents
  • Ensure that all documents are certified copies and are legible. Incorrect or incomplete documents can delay the processing of your application.
Communication from CAO
  • Email and SMS: Regularly check your email and phone for updates or requests for additional information from the CAO or the institutions you’ve applied to.
  • Online Account: Log into your CAO account frequently to stay updated on your application status and any additional steps you need to take.

5. After Application Submission

Offers and Responses
  • Receiving Offers: Institutions will review applications and make offers to successful candidates. These offers will be communicated through the CAO portal.
  • Accepting Offers: Follow the instructions provided to accept an offer. Some institutions may require you to confirm your acceptance by a certain date.
Registration
  • Once you accept an offer, the respective institution will provide information on the registration process, including dates, fees, and required documentation.

Contact Information

For further assistance, you can contact the CAO:

  • CAO Call Centre: 031 268 4444
  • Email: enquiries@cao.ac.za
  • Website: CAO Official Website
  • Postal Address: Central Applications Office, Private Bag X06, Dalbridge, 4014

By following this guide, you can efficiently navigate the CAO application process for 2025 and increase your chances of securing a place in your desired program.


Overview of Public Universities in South Africa

Here's an overview of some public universities in South Africa, including general admissions requirements and estimated application periods. Keep in mind, specific program requirements and dates can vary significantly, so it's important to check each university's official website for the most current information.

University of Pretoria

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with minimum scores in specific subjects related to the chosen program; for international students, equivalent qualifications.
  • Application Period: Usually opens in March and closes at the end of July for most programs.

University of Cape Town

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with pass levels required for degree study; subject-specific requirements depending on the program.
  • Application Period: Application opens in April and closes at the end of July.

Stellenbosch University

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with required marks; some programs have additional testing.
  • Application Period: Opens in March and typically closes at the end of June.

University of the Witwatersrand

  • Admissions Requirements: Matriculation certificate with university exemption; required scores vary by faculty.
  • Application Period: Begins in March and ends on the 30th of September.

University of Johannesburg

  • Admissions Requirements: Matric exemption with a minimum APS score; specific subject requirements based on the faculty.
  • Application Period: Opens in April and generally closes by the 30th of September.

University of the Free State

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with specific marks for the program applied to; additional requirements for certain courses.
  • Application Period: Typically opens in April and closes at the end of August.

University of Venda

  • Admissions Requirements: Completion of the National Senior Certificate with an endorsement for diploma or degree studies; specific APS scores needed.
  • Application Period: Usually from May to September.

University of Fort Hare

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with university exemption; certain programs may have specific requirements.
  • Application Period: Opens around May and closes at the end of September.

University of the Western Cape

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with specific performance levels; additional requirements for certain programs.
  • Application Period: Generally from May to September.

North-West University

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with university exemption; program-specific requirements may apply.
  • Application Period: Opens in March and usually closes by the end of August.

Rhodes University

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate or equivalent; minimum academic performance in certain subjects.
  • Application Period: Applications open in April and close at the end of September.

Nelson Mandela University

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with required scores for chosen programs; portfolio or additional tests for some faculties.
  • Application Period: Opens in April, with a deadline at the end of August for most programs.

Cape Peninsula University of Technology

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with specific scores; additional requirements for certain courses.
  • Application Period: Opens in May and typically closes by the end of September.

University of Limpopo

  • Admissions Requirements: Senior Certificate with endorsement for diploma or degree courses; specific APS scores for different programs.
  • Application Period: From April to September.

University of Zululand

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with an endorsement for bachelor’s degree studies; specific score requirements for various programs.
  • Application Period: Usually between April and November.

Central University of Technology

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with specific scores for the chosen field of study; additional criteria for certain programs.
  • Application Period: Application period generally starts in May and ends in October.

Vaal University of Technology

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with a pass that qualifies for admission to bachelor’s degree, diploma, or higher certificate programs.
  • Application Period: Typically from May to September.

Walter Sisulu University

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with required scores for chosen programs; additional criteria for certain faculties.
  • Application Period: From April to September.

This list provides a starting point for understanding the admissions landscape across South Africa's diverse higher education institutions. Given the variability in programs and requirements, it's crucial to consult each university's website for the most accurate and up-to-date information.