A new system to help young people apply for post-matric education was introduced on Thursday.
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said in Johannesburg R35-million would be spent on the first phase of the Central Application System (CAS).
"[This] is to address the perennial problem of prospective students who decide in January to start looking for places, and those who are not accepted at their initial institutions of choice and [then] decide to try get admitted by other institutions in January."
The first phase of the system would require that all prospective students not placed at tertiary institutions be registered on one system. It would be used for this year's matriculants.
"When institutions open in their first week and they find that they still have openings, they will be able to go to the system [known as the clearing house] to take students from there and alert them that they have been accepted without having them do walk-ins at the institution," Nzimande explained.
He said the department was seeking to avoid a repeat of a stampede at the University of Johannesburg on January 10 in which a prospective student's mother was killed.
The new system, which was reportedly backed by the vice-chancellors of all 23 tertiary institutions, would contain the names of institutions that still had places available.
KwaZulu-Natal was already operating with a similar system for four of its institutions.
From 2013, for admissions to the following year, prospective students would only be required to pay a single standardised application fee for all their applications.
Nzimande said the same closing date for applications to all tertiary institutions would apply.
"We should move to a place where one knows that if you miss the application deadline, that's it," Nzimande said.
Once fully in operation, the system would also see prospective students applying for and being awarded financial aid and student housing through the CAS.
Nzimande said it was important that institutions took on students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
"The burden must be shared," he said.