Unisa students urged to register online due to 'national shutdown'

Unisa is urging students t register online due to a national shutdown.
Unisa is urging students t register online due to a national shutdown.
Image: Dudu Zitha/Sunday Times

The University of South Africa (Unisa) has urged its students to register online following the "national shutdown" called by the student representative council.

"It is very unfortunate‚ because it is one of those things that is difficult to prevent. The online registration is working so students should do their registration there.

"We do apologise to our students who have travelled far to our campuses to register‚" Unisa spokesperson Martin Ramotshela told |SowetanLIVE on Monday afternoon.

Campuses affected were in Gauteng‚ Durban‚ Pietermaritzburg‚ Polokwane‚ Eastern Cape and Parow in Cape Town.

This after students at various Unisa campuses were forced to turn back due to the national shutdown. At one of the campuses in Florida‚ west of Johannesburg‚ students got back into taxis and cars with disappointment written all over their faces.

Nkululeko Buthelezi‚ 19‚ who was planning to register for public relations‚ said he was "extremely disappointed".

"Eish‚ it is not good‚ we waste money coming here. I came from the Joburg CBD. Someone must come and tell us what is happening here‚" Buthelezi said.

For 27-year-old Sekgobela Prinsen the delay in registration felt like "the end of the world".

"I am not happy about this situation. This is an opportunity for me and I want to improve my life. I don't have words‚ my spirit is just down‚" Prinsen said.

He said he would return next week to register for his supply chain management course.

Student representatives said the shutdown was aimed at resolving challenges of access to and development of higher learning at campuses in the province.

“We want Unisa to improve the NSFas service by improving the administration. Unisa students don’t get meals and accommodation‚ so now we are saying we should be given the same service as NFSas students in other universities.

“NSFas students are getting laptops and not book allowances‚ so they (NSFas) are saying students should choose between the two. We want NFSas to cater for both‚” Eastern Cape SRC deputy chairperson Lungile Mnukwa said.

However‚ Ramotshela said an agreement had already been reached in 2018 that NSFas-funded students would receive laptops once they registered at the university.

"We have agreed with the students‚ we sat in a council meeting and approved the service provider. The students were represented in the same council where the meeting was taking place by two members‚ the president and the secretary general‚ that approved that deal.

"That deal did not include books‚" he said.

Unisa SRC undergraduate officer in Johannesburg Victor Phenyo claimed that the majority of students who had applied had been rejected.

"Unisa is claiming that there is limited space‚ we don't understand what kind of a space they are talking about. You can register more than 300‚000 students and still study at home‚" Phenyo said.

Ramotshela said the institution could register 385‚000 students in terms of the enrolment plan set out by the department of higher education.  

"Every institution in the country can only take so many people. You cannot take more than you can service."

Other student demands included:

  • CCTV and security control in study and examination spaces.
  • The "failure of PE management to manage fairly‚ without discrimination‚ favouritism‚ exploitation and neglect of students on contracts given to them for skills development".
  • The need for an ICT technician‚ ICT repairs for students and students who require Arcswid support.
  • Study material efficiency and the accessibility of tutorial and research classes for students.
  • A proposal for companies hired by Unisa to offer internships‚ placement and skills-development funding for Unisa students.

Student representatives said the institution would remain locked down until the demands were met.

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