A Guide on How To Apply At UNISA for 2020

Studying at UNISA gives students who seek to study at a tertiary institution the option of working and studying from home. In other words – distance learning. Students don’t have to attend classes and instead work from the comfort of their own home. However, before students can dream of studying at home via UNISA, they first have to apply to study at UNISA. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how exactly to apply online to study at UNISA in 2020.

NB: You can apply at UNISA for the 2020 academic year either online or at your nearest UNISA Regional Center.

Step 1: What Do You Want To Study After School?

Before anything else, an applicant would have to ask themselves what it is that they want to study? Why do they want to study? It’s easy to go through life without thinking about the future but when reality hits, it hits hard.

Many school-leaving students, unfortunately, fall into the trap of studying something that they’re uninterested in (studying for the sake of studying) without wondering if it is what they want to do or not.

It’s not the easiest thing to decide either. Most students after school do not have a clue about what their next move will be. Students will have to figure out:

  • What are their interests? 
  • Is it possible to learn something that aligns with their interests?
  • Can I make a living if I follow my true interests/passion?
  • Am I prepared to take on the responsibility when it comes to following my passion?

Once students figure what it is that they want to achieve career-wise, the next step should be…

Step 2: UNISA Website

Unisa Home Page
UNISA Home Page. Source: Unisa Website

… Heading onto the UNISA website. First-time applicants can easily lose their way on the website if they don’t know how to navigate. But don’t worry though – we’ve got your back. 

Once on the homepage, click on the Admissions drop-down menu and click on the ‘Apply for Admission’ option. Once on the page, press/click on the type of application that’s applicable to you. For our example, we’re looking at undergraduate qualifications (as most new applicants do fall under this category).

Step 3: Why Consider Studying at UNISA?

When it comes to applying for an undergraduate qualification, there are five (5) steps that you have to follow.

UNISA Undergraduate Qualifications. Source: UNISA Website
UNISA Undergraduate Qualifications. Source: UNISA Website

ODeL stands for Open Distance e-Learning. For applicants wanting to study at UNISA, they would have to know what ODeL is and figure out whether if it’s something they want to do.

ODeL is an alternative way of learning and studying. Students have to study on their own, meaning that they’re responsible for the outcome of their studies. There are no daily lectures to attend (although tutorial services are an option to some).

You’ll still be able to interact with UNISA – but at a distance AND in digital format (myUnisa). If you’re still unsure about whether you want to proceed with distance learning, UNISA does offer a free online course called the First-Year Experience Massive Open Online Portal (FYE MOOS101).

This is an online course, aimed to teach and inform potential students about who UNISA is and what they’re about. The course also assists applicants in choosing the correct qualification to study. It also assists by giving students a hint on what career path to choose.

Applicants would have to register for the FYE MOOS101 course online by clicking here. Once there, students are able to create a new account, sign in, find and join the FYE MOOS101 online course.

Step 4: Career Counselling

Next would be to determine whether an applicant is certain about what it is that they want to study. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but not everyone knows what they want to do right off the bat. This is why UNISA offers career counselling services to all applicants.

Career Counselling is best described as a process that focuses on one’s self as to make an informed decision on what education and career path to follow.

There are 3 key areas to career counselling, namely:

  1. Knowing Yourself;
  2. Identifying and Preparing for Opportunities; and
  3. Linking Your Interests to UNISA Qualifications.

In going through career counseling, applicants will have a better understanding of what career path to choose for themselves. It’s better to have all the cards in a deck rather than have a few cards missing, isn’t it?

Step 5: Choosing Your Qualification

Once applicants figure out what it is that they want to do, the next step would be to choose and find the qualification of their choice. To apply at UNISA is easy, but choosing the appropriate qualification is another story.

Finding Your UNISA Qualification
Finding Your UNISA Qualification. Source: UNISA Website

As seen above, there are multiple colleges and levels of qualifications to choose from. However, applicants can only apply for qualifications that they qualify for (as per their Matric/NCV certificate).

One of the key admission requirements for all qualifications offered by UNISA is the APS. APS stands for Admission Points Score. The score assists universities to see whether applicants qualify for a specific course or not. The APS also gives students an idea of what qualification(s) they can apply for.

The minimum APS for each type of qualification differs, from:

  • Higher Certificate qualifications: 15
  • Diploma qualifications: 17
  • Bachelor Degree qualifications: 20
  • Advanced Certificate qualifications: 50
  • Advanced Diploma qualifications: 50

Note that the above totals do not apply to all qualifications. Applicants would make sure to take a look at the APS of the qualification(s) before applying.

Also Read: How To Calculate Your APS

Step 6: What Documents Are Needed To Apply At UNISA

Before students go ahead and apply to study at UNISA in 2020, they would have to have the correct documentation. The documentation includes:

  • A copy of their school qualifications;
  • Copy of their ID certificate or ID and passport (if international);
  • If applicable, a copy of their marriage certificate or divorce decree;
  • A copy of their tertiary academic record(s) (if applicable);
  • Sworn translations of said documents if they are not in English or Afrikaans.

Note that files have to be uploaded individually, not be larger than 2MB each, must be in black & white and be available in the following formats ONLY: PDF, Word Doc and/or TIF file.

Additionally, students would have to make absolutely sure that they meet the following requirements before applying:

  • They have to meet all the admission and APS requirements of their chosen qualification;
  • Students are to have valid contact details (email address and phone number) so that UNISA will be able to keep in contact regarding the applications

Also Read: UNISA Application Dates 2020

Once applicants have everything on hand (including the application fee), then they will be able to apply either online or at their nearest UNISA Regional Center. The non-refundable application fees for the 2020 academic year are as follows:

  • Online Applications: R110
  • Hard-Copy Applications: R170

UNISA will not refund application fees to applicants – even if you weren’t accepted due to limited space, were unsuccessful with your application or if a student decided to study somewhere else.

Submitted applications which have been left unpaid are deemed invalid. It’s best for applicants to pay as soon as possible before the UNISA applications closing date.

Final Step of the UNISA Application Process

Once the dust has settled, it’s time to play the waiting game. UNISA will assess each application and determine whether students qualify to study at UNISA or not. UNISA does not automatically accept anyone to study (as to avoid favoritism) at the university.

There are two outcomes to the application process which determines whether an applicant passes or fails their application:

  1. If an application was unsuccessful, UNISA will inform the applicant of the outcome as soon as their application is processed. This includes incorrect and/or incomplete applications.
  2. If an application was successful, UNISA will inform the applicant that space is allocated to them for the 2020 academic year once all applications are processed.

Successful students will, in turn, receive an offer from UNISA to study at the university. The offer has to be accepted within a certain timeframe (given by UNISA). Failure to accept the offer will result in UNISA offering the space to another applicant.

Registration for the 2020 academic year at UNISA opens on 3 January 2020. By then, everyone who applied will more or less know whether they’re successful or not.

10 minutes or less. That’s how long it can take to apply to study at UNISA, so make sure that you have all the documents needed in hand. Make sure that you make the absolute right choice for yourself.

Last Updated: 22 August 2019

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31 thoughts on “A Guide on How To Apply At UNISA for 2020”

  1. Hi so how to get student number if you applied previously as the system says you have student number while not ? THIS USUALLY OCCUR WHEN YOU DID NOT COMPLETE THE APPLICATION PROCESS


    1. If you applied previously, you should have received a student number then. Do you still remember what student number you previously had?

  2. Hie if i qualify for complete exemption is there a fee at to be paid at the Matriculation Board.
    i wanted to do B com Law cant find it on the list of qualifications is there an alternative curriculum for the degree. and finally when scanning documents should they be certified or black n white copies are good enough?

  3. when can i apply for national diploma mechanical engineering because i cant choose it on online applications and it does not show on the drop down list.not any engineering qualification is on the list of qualification.is there a later date that i can use?

    1. All qualifications that are stated on the UNISA website are the only courses students can apply for. Unless stated otherwise at a later date, UNISA will not declare that they will be offerng engineering qualifications.

      To be absolutely sure, head to your nearest UNISA campus and speak to a student advisor on whether they offer the ND: Mechanical Engineering qualification.

  4. if i already have a student number from which applied years ago and it still exist when i try to apply now should i just pay application fee and carry on with the application?

    1. That is correct, yes. If you’ve applied before and were not accepted then, you don’t need to pay the application fee.

  5. Lindokuhle priscilla

    Hi i would like to ask about changing courses i want to study Education but i didnt get space n i got in Accounting n physical science is it possible for me to change in January n do Education??
    Another Q i didnt received my student number but when i re-apply again it’s says i have already received a stundent number n when i click to “forget student numbers” its says no results found like i have apply plz help

      1. Regarding the BEd Foundation Phase, these are the requirements needed to study the qualification:

        A National Senior Certificate (NSC) (Degree endorsement) with at least 50% in the language of teaching and learning and 40% in Mathematics or 50% in Mathematical Literacy,


        A Senior Certificate (SC) with matriculation exemption or qualify for the exemption from the Matriculation Board with at least a D symbol on HG or a C symbol on SG in the language of teaching and learning and an F symbol on HG or an E symbol on SG in Mathematics,


        A National Certificate Vocational (NCV) Level 4 with at least 60% in three fundamental subjects including the language of teaching and learning. 70% in four vocational subjects chosen from the NCV level 4 subjects. Subjects under the following categories are approved as eligible for a BEd degree: All official languages as First Additional Language level, Agriculture and Nature Conservation, Business, Commerce and Management Sciences Services, Education, training and Development Mathematics and Natural Science.

        Additionally, you need an APS of 23 in order to do the qualification.

    1. Scan your documents via a scanner. Once scanned and forwarded to your PC/E-mail, you can upload the documents alongside your application. It’s way easier to use a scanner rather than a scanning app.

  6. Hello, I am currently in matric. I recently applied for admission. I also paid my application fee. Previously I uploaded my ID and my September report card. I am now scared that my application may be rejected because I uploaded the report, Please help.
    Thank You

    1. An application can only be rejected due to oversubscription of the qualification or not meeting the admission requirements. There’s no problem with uploading the report card.

  7. Hi i have been trying to apply it says i already have a student number,im redirected to page but it still says student number cant be found

  8. Good day

    Please assist I Dont know if I qualify to study ?
    I would like to study LLB
    I passed matric 2007.

    Please assist and advice.


    1. You need to meet the admission requirements set by Unisa in order to qualify for an LLB at Unisa. The current admission requirements at Unisa for a LLB is:

      APS: 20

      A National Senior Certificate (NSC) (Degree endorsement) with at least 50% in the language of teaching and learning


      a Senior Certificate (SC) with matriculation exemption or qualify for the exemption from the Matriculation Board with at least a D symbol on HG or a C symbol on SG in the language of teaching and learning.


      a relevant Diploma


      a relevant Higher Certificate.

  9. Heyyyy
    I have a Aps of 23 looking forward to study education bed foundation phase can I study a bachelor degree even though my Maths literacy is under 44.

    1. Despite meeting the APS requirements, you still need to meet the admission requirement set by Unisa in order to study the BEd Foundation Phase degree.

      As the requirement needed from you is a 50% in Maths Literacy, you will not qualify for the qualification. You may have to study towards a lower qualification in order to help yourself qualify for the BEd Foundation Phase (such as the Higher Certificate in Education).

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