Unisa strike over af­ter ac­cord is reached


WORK was ex­pected to re­sume at Unisa’s cam­puses as usual to­day af­ter the end of a na­tional shut­down by strik­ing stu­dents last week.

Unisa signed an agree­ment with the Stu­dents’ Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil at the week­end.

In KwaZulu-Natal last week, stu­dents protested at the Dur­ban, Pi­eter­mar­itzburg and Wild Coast cam­puses, and those want­ing to reg­is­ter at the Dur­ban cam­pus were turned away when staff unions re­moved their mem­bers due to safety con­cerns.

The protests were about the mass ex­clu­sion and re­jec­tion of qual­i­fy­ing ap­pli­cants and the over­pop­u­la­tion of study space and exam cen­tres.

They also protested to high­light sev­eral con­cerns that in­cluded: Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) fund­ing, out­stand­ing tu­ition fees and al­lowances for last year, as well as the fail­ure to pro­vide free lap­tops to NSFAS ben­e­fi­cia­ries and book al­lowances.

Ac­cord­ing to Unisa spokesper­son Martin Ramot­shela, they ex­pected things to re­turn to nor­mal at all their cam­puses af­ter an agree­ment aimed at ad­dress­ing stu­dents’ griev­ances was signed on Satur­day.

Lungi Nh­lenyama, chair­per­son of the KZN SRC, said that while the agree­ment reached on Satur­day was in place, KZN stu­dents wanted more of a com­mit­ment and clar­ity on re­gional is­sues, and she hoped to ob­tain this to­day, when the SRC was ex­pected to meet with Unisa man­age­ment in Pre­to­ria.

She added that the is­sue of poor ad­min­is­tra­tion in the re­gion would also be dis­cussed at this meet­ing.

Wadzanani Mazhetese, Unisa’s na­tional SRC pres­i­dent, said many stu­dents had been un­happy fol­low­ing the ex­clu­sion of ap­prox­i­mately 120 000 stu­dents.

Ramot­shela said that de­spite the ini­tial im­passe, the uni­ver­sity had agreed to con­sider an ad­di­tional 25 000 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 NSFAS was an is­sue in which the uni­ver­sity could not in­ter­vene.

Re­gard­ing ac­cred­i­ta­tion and the scrap­ping of cour­ses, Ramot­shela ad­mit­ted that an er­ror had been 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 of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing, a com­mit­ment had been made to fa­cil­i­tate a meet­ing with the SAQA, the Coun­cil on Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and the uni­ver­sity man­age­ment.

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

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