The University of South Africa (Unisa) has admitted to an administrative error through which students were allowed to apply for courses for 2019 despite those courses’ accreditation hanging in the balance. Unisa students staged a national shutdown on Monday in protest of this and other concerns, against a backdrop of registration chaos across universities. Registration for tertiary institutions began on Monday, with most institutions set to begin the academic year next month. Unisa spokesperson Martin Ramotshela said the university had lost accreditation for some courses they had loaded onto the system.He was unable to provide a list of the courses, but said Unisa’s academic planner was asked to cut their leave short to deal with the problem. “We put a disclaimer saying that students would only be granted application if the accreditation was granted, but students may not have seen it. “We cannot register them for these courses as that would be irresponsible,” Ramotshela said, adding that Unisa was trying to get registration back for those courses. New and returning Unisa students were on Monday being turned away from the campus on Langalibalele (Longmarket) Street as the South African Students Congress (Sasco) led the shutdown at Unisa’s Pietermaritzburg campus. Its regional secretary, Sihle Khwela, said students in Pietermaritzburg were upset over the apparent obligation for some of them to travel to Durban for course tutorials. “No one will register until we meet with management,” Khwela said. Ramotshela told The Witness that management would meet with students regarding their concerns, which also relate to the provision of laptops, textbooks and meal vouchers. He added that tutorials were more likely to be held in Durban since it was a central point and students come from all over the province. Ramotshela also urged students to make use of Unisa’s online registration during the shutdown. He said Unisa received more than half a million applications, but was only taking about 113 000 new students. Some 75 000 applications were processed by Monday, he added. Meanwhile, new and returning students flocked to the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus from 6 am on Monday morning to register. The university said it received about 91 000 on-time applications for undergraduate students, but has only about 8 770 first-year places. The most popular course applied for was social work, with 15 804 applications; but UKZN also received 6 200 applications for the 240 places at its medical school. “Our enrolment forecast for 2019 is approximately 45 000 for first-year and returning students,” acting spokesperson Normah Zondo said, adding that registration for undergraduates closes on March 2. The Durban University of Technology’s Riverside Campus was similarly packed with students. Its spokesperson Alan Khan said they had received more than 83 000 applications for 8 314 places.“DUT is not accepting walk-in applications. All applicants who did not apply for DUT programme/s are advised that applications are currently closed. Should there be vacant spaces, late applications may be considered with no guarantee of acceptance,” he added.