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.