Registration going ahead seamlessly following protests – Unisa

2019-01-14 16:24
Members of Nehawu shut down the Unisa Sunnyside campus, effectively bringing student registrations to a halt last week. (File, Alex Mitchley, News24)

Members of Nehawu shut down the Unisa Sunnyside campus, effectively bringing student registrations to a halt last week. (File, Alex Mitchley, News24)

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Registration at the University of South Africa (Unisa) was going smoothly on Monday, the institution's spokesperson, Martin Ramotshela, told News24.

This follows protests by disgruntled South African Students Congress members last week that led to a shutdown of the institution's Sunnyside campus in Tshwane over demands ranging from academic programmes to financial aid.

At the weekend, Unisa management and its student representative council (SRC) signed an agreement that ended the strike.

"The agreement came as a result of the breakthrough made by the parties during negotiations within the university; as well as constructive engagement by the parties with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), focusing on the registration challenges at Unisa, which included accreditation, enrollment planning, provision of laptops and other matters," the institution said in a statement.

On Monday, it was business as usual, Ramotshela said.

"There have been no reports of any incidents. Everything has been going smoothly so far.

Agreement a 'win-win solution'

"We are happy that we have been able to find each other," Ramotshela said, referring to the agreement.

"We have reopened our campuses and the shutdown has stopped – we are happy about that.

"People are able to access our campuses again. We are quite satisfied that [the agreement] was a win-win solution. We are going to work together [with the SRC] so that we can find a solution."

The institution previously met with disgruntled students on Tuesday but failed to find common ground on issues raised, News24 reported.

After reaching an agreement at the weekend, Unisa published the various issues that were discussed.

Students in their demands proposed that students who completed higher certificates in 2018 should be allowed to proceed with registration in January 2019. Unisa in response agreed that students who applied for admission for bachelor's degrees and meet the requirements would be registered.

Students made a demand that each student should have a laptop. In response, Unisa could not guarantee that as "the choice of either a laptop or a textbook allowance in any one year of student funding is informed by the policy of NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme)".

Online registration encouraged

Students rejected a fee increment by the institution. Unisa responded that the annual fee increase of 6.9% (weighted) proposed and approved by council was an integral part of ensuring the financial sustainability of the institution.

On the issue of qualifications not being registered with the South African Qualifications Authority, the institution said it would continue to engage with the accreditation body and would provide it with IDs for the relevant qualifications as soon as these are available.

On the issue of students who were academically excluded, Unisa resolved that "students excluded erroneously will be corrected within 72 hours and there will be communication with affected students and their respective funders".

"As Unisa, we welcome this agreement and we are pleased that the operations of the university will return to normal and that thousands of our people who aspire to acquire an education and better their lives will be afforded the opportunity access Unisa," the institution said.

Unisa still encouraged students to register online unless it is absolutely necessary to visit one of its centres.

Read more on:    sasco  |  unisa  |  university fees  |  university protests

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