Tips for Late University Application for 2024 in South Africa

Missing the university application deadline can be a stressful experience, leaving prospective students scrambling to secure a place in the new academic year. But all hope is not lost; many institutions in South Africa offer opportunities for late applications. Here are some expert tips to guide you through the process.

While the notion of submitting a late application to South African universities may seem tempting, it’s crucial to understand that this approach comes with considerable risks.

Obtaining a spot after the official application dates have passed is very unlikely due to the extremely competitive landscape. Each year, a large number of South African students qualify for university, and available spaces are often filled quickly, leaving no room for latecomers.

Even if some universities do offer limited opportunities for late applications, these are usually for specialized or challenging courses that require an exceptionally high Admission Points Score (APS). Relying on the possibility of a late application is a gamble that rarely pays off, as past years have shown. There have been numerous instances where students who were qualified for university admission missed out simply because they waited too long to apply.

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In exceptional circumstances, certain universities might consider late applications, but this should not be seen as a reliable option. The available slots under these special conditions are often in courses that are not the first choice for many students. Therefore, if you’re serious about furthering your education, it’s imperative to submit your application before the deadline.

Given the scarcity of available spaces and high levels of competition, planning ahead and meeting application deadlines are absolutely essential for securing your educational future in South Africa.

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Universities that may still be open for late applications

While it’s always recommended to apply for universities before the initial deadline, many institutions in South Africa offer opportunities for late applications, depending on availability and the course of interest. Below are some universities that might still be accepting late applications:

  • University of Johannesburg (UJ): UJ has been known to extend its application period for certain courses, although this is subject to change based on availability.
  • Tshwane University of Technology (TUT): TUT often reopens its application process for select courses, especially those that haven’t reached full capacity.
  • University of the Western Cape (UWC): UWC may accept late applications, but it’s advisable to directly contact the admissions office for the most accurate and current information.
  • Nelson Mandela University (NMU): NMU occasionally accepts late applications for courses that haven’t been filled during the initial application period.
  • North-West University (NWU): Depending on the availability of space and the specific course, NWU might accept late applications.
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN): UKZN sometimes has slots open for late applicants, depending on the course and campus.
  • Central University of Technology (CUT): CUT may extend its application deadline for select courses that have not yet reached full capacity.
  • Rhodes University: While late applications at Rhodes University are less common, there might be exceptions depending on course availability and other factors.
  • University of Free State (UFS): UFS occasionally allows for late applications for certain programs that have open slots.
  • Vaal University of Technology (VUT): VUT has been known to accept late applications, particularly for courses that haven’t yet filled all available spots.
  • University of Pretoria (UP): The University of Pretoria may extend deadlines for some of its courses, although this is rare and would typically come with an additional late application fee.
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Always remember to directly contact the admissions offices of these universities to confirm late application opportunities, as circumstances can change rapidly. Additionally, be prepared to pay a late application fee and ensure all your documentation is in order.

If you missed the initial application period, all is not lost. The key is to act quickly, have all your documents ready, and stay updated on the information released by your chosen institutions.

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Tips for Late University Application for 2024 in South Africa

Check University Websites for Updates

Most universities provide up-to-date information on their websites, including late application dates, available courses, and specific procedures to follow. Regularly monitor university websites for any announcements.

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Contact Admissions Offices Directly

Don’t rely solely on online information; directly contact the university’s admissions office. They can give you specific guidance tailored to your circumstances and even alert you to lesser-known options for late application.

Have All Required Documents Ready

Time is of the essence when it comes to late applications. Make sure all your required documents—such as matriculation certificates, academic transcripts, identification, and proof of residence—are updated and ready for submission.

Be Flexible on Course Choices

Your ideal programme may be full. In such cases, it may be worthwhile to consider alternative courses that align closely with your academic and career goals. You can always aim to switch courses later on or use the alternative course as a stepping stone.

Consider Online Applications

Many universities have moved towards online application systems, which tend to be quicker and easier than traditional methods. Online systems also offer real-time updates on the status of your application.

Utilise the Central Applications Office (CAO)

The Central Applications Office (CAO) in South Africa allows you to apply to multiple institutions using a single platform. If you missed deadlines for individual universities, the CAO could be a convenient option to explore others that might still be accepting applications.

Pay the Late Application Fee

Almost all late applications come with an additional fee. Be prepared to pay this immediately as processing will not begin until payment is received.

Check for Financial Aid Options

Missing an application deadline could mean missing out on some financial aid opportunities. However, some universities have specific scholarships or bursaries still available for late applicants. Enquire about these when contacting the admissions office.

Be Prompt in Communication

Always respond promptly to emails or calls from the university. A delay could result in losing your spot to another candidate.

Prepare for Possible Exams or Interviews

Some universities require late applicants to go through additional screening processes, such as interviews or aptitude tests. Be prepared to undergo these at short notice.


While missing the initial application deadline isn’t ideal, there are still pathways to university admission. Being proactive, flexible, and well-prepared can significantly improve your chances of successfully navigating late applications in South Africa. So, keep your options open and don’t lose hope; your educational journey is far from over.