Everything you need to know about higher education’s CACH system

The Central Applications Clearing House (CACH) system has been pushed by universities and the department of higher education and training (DHET) as the route prospective students should follow if they’re struggling to find a place at universities. Students have expressed both confusion and deep criticism of it – with the University of Witwatersrand SRC saying it gave students false hope for placement. The Daily Vox spoke to the DHET who took us through all the details and stats surrounding the CACH system.

1. What is the CACH system?

The Central Applications Clearing House (referred to as CACH) is a  temporary mechanism created by the department of higher education and training to assist prospective students who want to enter the post-school education and training system (PSET) but might be facing these scenarios:

  • Applied on time to their institution of choice but their application was rejected and now it is too late to apply elsewhere;
  • Not applied because they did not meet the entry requirement based on their grade 11 results but find that they now meet the entry requirements when their grade 12 results are released;
  • Applied and met the entry requirement based on their grade 11 results but find that they now do not meet the entry requirements when their grade 12 results are released;
  • Have no clue on what to study after completing their matric; and
  • Have an idea of what to study but are not sure if their choice of study is the right career

2. When and why was it put together?

The CACH was established in 2013 in response to the large number of applicants seeking entry to the PSET sector in January when most universities have closed their application process.  Now in its fifth year, the programme is provided by the DHET as a service which is free to both applicants and institutions.

3. How does the process work?

Step 1: Students who have not received an offer of a space by institutions they have applied for, or are looking for PSET learning opportunities, contacts CACH via a toll free number (call 0800 356 635), or via a standard SMS (SMS name and ID to 49200) or they can register online on the website (cach.dhet.gov.za). They can also find out more on our Facebook page which is CACH_SA or the website (www.dhet.gov.za).

Step 2: If an SMS was sent to 49200, the agents will call a prospective student back free of charge, from the contact centre and register all requested details on the CACH database, including the learners’ chosen field of study and the province they wish to study at.

If a call was made to the contact centre on the toll-free number (0800 356 635), The agents answering the call in the contact centre will register all requested details on the CACH database, including the learners’ chosen field of study and the province they wish to study at.

If an online self-help registration is done, the applicant will register all requested details on the CACH database, including the chosen field of study and the province they wish to study at.

Step 3: The applicant’s personal details and matric results will be verified automatically before being transferred to institutions of higher learning for possible placement. Where applications are incomplete, the applicant will be contacted in order to ensure that a complete application is processed.

Step 4: On successful verification of learner’s information, it will be forward to institutions that still have available places in the chosen field of study.

4. How quickly do universities respond and how does a student know whether they have a place at a university?

Now, what happens after the end of CACH process? Where places exist and applicants meet the requirements, institutions will contact applicants directly to offer them available places. If an institution does not contact an applicant, one must assume that they were not successfully placed. Applicants will be required to pay the institution the registration fee if they want to secure space and/or in some instances a late application fee.

5. How many prospective students register on the CACH system each year?
6. How many students are successfully placed at an institution via the CACH system each year?

2013 – 64% (8403 students) were placed

2014 – 32% (5148 students) were placed

2015 – 58% (20 667 students) were placed

2016 – 33% (12 080 students) were placed

2017 – 45.3% (6 519 students) were placed

2018 – still pending as CACH only finalize the number of placed students at the end of the programme (i.e. during the month of March through a survey)

Featured Image by Mohammed Jameel Abdulla

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