As part of its meeting on Wednesday (27 February), Cabinet approved the publication of a number of bills for public comment.
Arguably the most noteworthy piece of legislation is the Central Application Service Bill of 2019.
In a brief explanation of the bill, Cabinet said that the legislation will provide for the establishment of a public entity that will ‘streamline’ applications into higher education and training programmes.
It added that the new entity will reduce the cost of application, provide applicants with information on academic programmes and enable the Department of Higher Education and Training and institutions of higher learning to monitor equity and demographics.
“As a nation we are committed to opening up and ensuring wider access to the post-school education and training system,” Cabinet said.
“A crucial part of this process lies in ensuring that prospective students have access to a single, affordable and easy-to-understand application system which covers multiple institutions of higher learning.
“To this effect, Cabinet approved publication of the Central Application Service Bill of 2019 in the Government Gazette for public comment.”
What to expect
While the legislation had not been gazetted at the time of writing, the Department of Education had previously mooted the introduction of a Central Application Service.
In a policy document published at the end of 2017, the department indicated the purpose of the purpose of the CAS is to ‘provide a single, affordable, easy to understand application process, giving applicants access to multiple institutions covering the entire Post-School Education and Training (PSET) sector’.
The document further proposes that the CAS be mandatory for all higher education institutions (starting with a phased rollout at universities) and that applicants pay a standard single application fee.
Some of the other proposed objectives of the CAS in the policy document include:
- Making available access to information on the full range of educational opportunities and training, and making available career-related information to assist in making informed study choices;
- Making the application process across multiple institutions affordable and available to all applicants;
- Reducing the administrative burden of application processing for institutions;
- Optimising the placement of applicants in appropriate studies which includes a clearinghouse facility;
- Facilitating the applications process so that institutions are able to make timely offers to applicants;
- Improving the predictability of the take-up rate per institution and programme;
- Providing all potential entrants into the PSET sector a single point for application to all their chosen education and training opportunities in the sector, combined with applications for accommodation and financial assistance.