Despite the University of Johannesburg's (UJ) announcement last week that it would not be accepting walk-in applications, dozens of prospective students queued outside the university on Monday morning, hopeful of securing a place this year.
Kabelo Matsuba, 22, who had to find a job last year after he didn't get into the programme he was hoping to study, arrived early on Monday morning hoping to register for a degree in human resources.
"All I want to do is study. Even where I work now, I am not proud. I am just doing it to keep my mind busy," he said.
"It's frustrating, but all I want to do is see myself study. I can't keep waiting and coming back next year, and next year, and next year. I'll be 30 with no degree," Matsuba said.
He said he was aware that the university said it wouldn't be accepting any walk-in applications, but he had experienced problems with the online system and was hoping he could get help at the university.
Last week, UJ joined a number of universities in the country, including the University of Cape Town and the University of the Witwatersrand, in announcing that it wouldn't be accepting walk-in applications, and that prospective students should access the online portal and phone the call centre for assistance.
But heavy traffic for late applications and registration meant the system was down on Monday morning.
100 call centre operators
UJ registrar Professor Kinta Burger said university management was aware that the system was down, but advised students to try again at a later stage when the traffic subsided.
She said besides the online portal, the university had 100 operators in its call centre to assist students with applications and registration.
UJ has also made wifi facilities available for students who can't access the internet to apply or register.
Marcia Nozuko Godlo, 36, said she had left Cape Town on Sunday morning to travel to Johannesburg, hoping to secure a place at UJ. This despite not having applied at the university.
She said she believed she had a better chance of success in Johannesburg after a string of failed opportunities in Cape Town had left the mother of one desperate.
Tshediso Nyamatha, acting chairperson of the South African Students' Congress at UJ's Auckland Park campus, said the student representative council had sent one of its members to engage the registrar about speeding up the process and manually registering students while the system is down.
"It is only the first day. We are going to be here for almost the next four weeks," a time by which he thought "everyone will be sorted".
"Our radical stance on free education still remains and that will be our first entry point of engagement with the department [of higher education and training]. If the department is not ready for us on that level, we will leave them to waffle alone and meet them on the ground," said EFF Student Command national spokesperson, Mangaliso Sambo.