The University of SA (Unisa) has reduced the number of first year students for this year, the university said in a statement late on Tuesday.
It said the decision was made when the university’s council executive met on Saturday to deliberate on “Unisa’s shape and size and the effective support for students to succeed in the pursuit of their studies”.
This decision was in response to a letter from Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande dated December 28 2020 about the “over enrolment of Unisa’s student numbers”.
The resolution, Unisa said, was meant to enable the university to support students effectively and to guarantee the financial resources and its sustainability and that of the education sector.
Unisa said this academic year would start in March. This had been necessitated by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s announcement that Grade 12 results would be released on February 23.
“Additionally, many universities will only be completing their academic year by March this year. This will enable new students entering the university and those transferring from other institutions to enrol at Unisa,” read the statement.
Unisa said to ensure that returning students were not unduly disadvantaged, registration would continue for the next two months.
“This decision was taken to ensure that the university does not have a backlog when the academic year starts in March,” Unisa said.
On the supplementary exams, Unisa said arrangements would be made to ensure that students who are set to write, as well as exams for honours students next month, were accommodated.
“Finally, council acknowledges that these are unusual times for both the university and the country, hence the need to manage these matters in a transparent manner, while ensuring that all the students are not unduly disadvantaged.
“The university is committed to the provision of all the assistance that the students would require in dealing with these matters. Unisa continues to wish its staff and students well-being and success this year,” it said.
UKZN campuses remain closed
University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) announced on New Year’s eve that it would reopen on January 18.
The decision, UKZN director of corporate relations Normah Zondo said, was taken after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of disaster last month.
“With both the district municipalities in which our campuses are located having been declared Covid-19 coronavirus hotspots, it is critical that all our campuses remain closed until January 18 2021 when it is hoped that further directives would be advised from the president and the minister of higher education, science and innovation.
“Staff and students are advised that all registration processes commence on January 18 and must be completed online and from remote locations, as there will be no registration services and/or registration assistance available on campus,” Zondo said.
She added that Ramaphosa’s address on December 28 had set out the stark reality of the Covid-19 second wave in the country.
More than a million people have been infected with more than 30 000 deaths recorded in South Africa.
“Worse, it appears that young people are particularly susceptible to the new strain of the virus which has now taken hold in our country with KwaZulu-Natal being among the worst impacted,” she said.
Since the first national lockdown in March last year, Zondo said UKZN had been forced to explore different ways to ensure that staff and students could access their campuses safely and for them to mitigate health and safety risks.
“All academic activities will remain online and data will continue to be provided as before. The College of Health Sciences students will be advised by their deputy vice-chancellors and deans of their prioritised return. They will also be advised of their students about catch-up programmes and make appropriate arrangements for support. All non-essential services staff will continue to work remotely,” she said.