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CAO Application and Status

If you have applied to a post-secondary institution within South Africa, chances are you will need to access something called the Central Applications Office, or CAO for short. For prospective university students, there is a chance that you may have never heard of the Central Applications Office and what it is responsible for – or rather, what it allows you to do. If that is the case, let us tell you! As a non-profit organisation, the Central Applications Office processes and tracks a student’s admissions applications to universities, including both private universities and universities of technology. As the CAO allows you to track applications to up to six different institutions through just one CAO application, this tool has made higher education something that is more accessible to prospective university students all across South Africa.

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If you are a prospective university student, let us tell you how to track your admissions application using the Central Applications Office. But first, continue reading ahead to learn how you can make an account on their platform.

How to make an account on CAO:

To make an account on CAO, follow these quick and easy steps:

  • Visit their website, www.cao.ac.za
  • Click on ‘Apply.’ Please note: You will need a valid email address for this
  • Fill out all of the relevant, accurate, and true information pertaining to yourself
  • Proceed to payment – if you are paying by card, rest assured that their system does not store any card details, so it is safe to do so
  • After setting up your password, click on ‘Proceed with application’
  • Now, you should receive a CAO application number within the inbox of the email address you had provided

If you are unsure what a CAO application number is used for, we will outline that for you as well:

  • You will use this when making payments through CAO
  • You will need to provide it whenever you are uploading documents
  • You will need to supply it when completing a COM form (Change of Mind)

Essentially, your CAO application number is something you will need to provide whenever completing any sort of communication through the Central Applications Office, so do ensure that you store it somewhere that is accessible to you, but still kept confidential.

Now, let us go over how to track your admissions applications through the Central Applications Office.

How to check CAO for application status:

If you have an account and application with the Central Applications office, you will be able to track your admissions applications and their status through the CAO website. To do this, follow these simple and hassle-free steps:

  • On a device which can access the internet, visit their website, www.cao.ac.za
  • Using your pre-set password and CAO application number, log in to the platform
  • Alternatively, you can also use your passport number or ID Document number to log in
  • After providing the relevant and true information, you will be able to click on a tab that reads ‘My Application’
  • Now, you can view your individual admissions applications and their statuses!

In the case that you receive an admissions letter (our fingers are crossed for you!), you will be able to view, download, and print it through the Central Applications Office’s portal as well – just ensure that you have access to a working printer!

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We do want to point out that when tracking your admissions application through the CAO, there may be several terms listed alongside your applications depending on what stage of processing it has been received at. These possible terms, such as ‘Waiting for a decision,’ ‘Awaiting result,’ and ‘Conditional Offer,’ amongst others, will let you know if your application has been processed yet, and if not, why. Or, if it has been processed, they will let you know if you have been accepted, shortlisted, rejected, or if there are any issues with your application, such as the institution you have applied to is requesting more information.

The Central Applications Office serves a pivotal role in your application process to institutions of higher education, and it is something that will make the journey from secondary to post-secondary school not only easier, but will and has aided in university-level education being more accessible to all prospective students of universities – private, of technology, and other – all across South Africa.

We wish you luck with your applications!