Changes to academic year won't affect students adversely, Unisa

JOHANNESBURG - The University of South Africa (Unisa) says changes to the academic year will not adversely affect any student - and are designed to maximise learning time. 

South Africa’s largest university announced in January it would effectively only have one semester and one exam period. 

But now the Economic Freedom Fighters' Student Command is preparing to go to court.

Thousands of students signed an online petition calling for Unisa to reverse its decision to have one semester and one exam period. 

Students who hoped to complete their qualifications by June were worried they’d be delayed by another year.

But Unisa says final year students will be identified.

“Interventions will be made at college levels through various methods including F1 concessions and other forms of assessment to ensure that those students are able to complete their qualifications and graduate now,”  says university spokesperson, Martin Ramotshela.

Another concern raised was that with only one exam period - students would be unable to adequately prepare.

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“We’ve made sure that, because the exam period is going to take place at a very abnormal time, we have staggered the period from September to the end of December 2012, so that students are then able to prepare thoroughly for each of their modules they are going to sit for.,  says Ramotshela. 

He goes on to say university management had to take into account that many matric students would only receive their results next month.

There are also Unisa students awaiting for supplementary examination results.

“You also have a cohort of students who are studying through NSFAS, and the funding for that is only going to be released in April. So as a result of all of these factors, the University saw it fit that we start the academic year in march so that all of these students can be in the system.”  

Unisa’s SRC president Wadzanai Mazhetese was unavailable for comment. 

He is also a member of the EFF’s Student Command. 

Mazhetese said in a message that he’s locked in meetings with lawyers as they prepare for a court application on Monday. 

They’re challenging the Higher Education Department’s decision, which led to Unisa making the changes to the academic year.


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