Calm re­stored on Unisa cam­puses

Sit­u­a­tion re­turns to nor­mal after agree­ment signed be­tween univer­sity and SRC

Pretoria News - - FRONT PAGE - GOITSEMANG TLHABYE [email protected]

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 to­day.

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 to­day.

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 yes­ter­day 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 120 000, 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 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 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 qual­i­fi­ca­tions 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.

THO­BILE MATHONSI African News Agency (ANA)

STU­DENTS ar­rive at the Tsh­wane Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy’s main cam­pus to be early for their 2019 reg­is­tra­tion.

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