Unisa 'shut down' not necessary

Unisa building.
Unisa building.
Image: Dudu Zitha/Sunday Times

Thousands of frustrated applicants and students queued outside University of South Africa (Unisa) campuses in vain yesterday, as the institution was shut down.

Some of the students told Sowetan that they had been standing in lines as early as 4am, hoping to secure space to study in one of the country's leading universities.

Operations were halted by the student representative council yesterday over courses that the institution advertised for 2019 but were unaccredited by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), among other issues.

Unisa SRC president Wadzanani Mazhetese said no registration process would take place until the issues were resolved. He said some aspiring students had applied to study the unrecognised courses and were accepted and registered by the institution and the SRC was determined to stop the university from ruining the pupils' futures with unrecognised qualifications.

This was confirmed by Unisa spokesman Martin Ramotshela, who said the institution had mistakenly uploaded some unaccredited programmes onto their system. However, Ramotshela said the university was in talks with SAQA to get the required accreditation.

We commend the SRC for looking out for their peers and ensuring that no pupil wastes money on an unrecognised qualification. However, was it necessary for the SRC to shut down the university?

What about the time and money wasted by the parents and applicants travelling to Unisa, only to get there and find it closed?

Was there any communication sent out to inform all stakeholders that the institution would be closed? Students could have been allowed to register for the accredited courses Unisa has been offering for years.

It is also shocking and inexcusable that an institution as big as Unisa can make such a blunder. This could have been circumvented by ensuring that all new courses were not uploaded into the system until they were accredited by SAQA.

Calling it a "mistake" is unjustifiable, the university's systems should never fail at that level. We call on Unisa to resolve this mess soon and get on with the year's programme.

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