Calm restored at Unisa campuses


January 14, 2019 6:20 am

Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria – The impasse between students and management at Unisa campuses countrywide has finally been quelled, bringing to an end a week of disruptions, with operations due back on track on Monday.

The SRC and the institution signed an agreement on Saturday that saw a student strike called off immediately and a promise by the institution that normalcy would return on Monday.

The breakthrough was made by the parties during negotiations within the university; as well as constructive engagement with the Department of Higher Education and Training, focusing on the registration challenges at Unisa, which included accreditation, enrolment planning, provision of laptops and other matters.

All campuses were disrupted last week that saw the first week of their registration period suspended.

Unisa said on Sunday the university and the Student Representative Council had concluded and signed an agreement following robust meetings, which began on Tuesday.

University spokesperson Martin Ramotshela said the agreement was signed by all stakeholders and would ensure university operations resumed unhindered.

“The university decided to approach the court to obtain an interdict in order to ensure that it brings to an end the disruptive effect of the student strike to its operations, including denying staff and students access to the premises of the university for the purpose of work and/or receiving services on registration and related matters,” Unisa said.

A handful of students, although reluctant to speak to the media, said they were able to gain access to the Sunnyside campus on Saturday until midday.

Among some of the issues raised by students were dealing with the lack of admission of prospective students looking to study further.

Wadzanani Mazhetese, Unisa National SRC president, said many students had been crying following the exclusion of approximately 120000, something he said made them feel rejected.

It was also a factor which could not exist as Unisa was a distance-learning institution, he said.

Other issues included the issuing of laptops and textbooks to students, and for Unisa to amend scrapped and/or unaccredited courses and qualifications.

Ramotshela said that despite the initial impasse, the university had agreed to consider an additional 25000 spaces for students who applied for the first semester of 2019 and qualified.

He reiterated that the issues surrounding the provision of laptops and textbooks for students through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme was something the university could intervene in.

But the student body had opted to halt all processes relating to the matter until all issues were resolved.

Regarding accreditation of courses, Ramotshela admitted an error was made by the university in loading certain courses before they were accredited by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).

To date, he said, following engagement with the department, a commitment had been made to facilitate a meeting with SAQA, the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and the university management.

He said this would hopefully assist the university to find a solution to open registration to Accredited Qualifications while the qualifi- cations statutory body was being finalised.

Ramotshela said that so far only 25 out of the 50 scrapped qualifications would remain closed – partly due to the fact that they were largely qualifications that would be phased out at the end of the year.

Pretoria News

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