Strike called off as Unisa, SRC reach an agreement

accreditation
Unisa’s vice chancellor Professor Mandla Makhanya gives testimony at the Human Rights Commission. (Thulani Mbele, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file)
Unisa’s vice chancellor Professor Mandla Makhanya gives testimony at the Human Rights Commission. (Thulani Mbele, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file)

The University of South Africa (Unisa) management and its Student Representative Council (SRC) signed an agreement on Saturday that will see the student strike called off with immediate effect.

"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, enrolment planning, provision of laptops and other matters," the institution said in a statement.

This comes after members of the South African Students' Congress (Sasco) on Monday staged a protest and shutdown of Unisa’s Sunnyside Campus in Tshwane.

Sasco had vowed to continue protests until Unisa addressed all its grievances.

ALSO READ: Sasco vows to continue protesting until Unisa meets its demands

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

With an agreement now in place, 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 cognate bachelor’s degrees and meet the requirements will 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]".

Students rejected the fee increment by the institution. Unisa in response said that the annual fee increase proposed and approved by Council was 6.9% (weighted) and it formed 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 (SAQA), the institution will continue to engage with the accreditation bodies to provide SAQA IDs for these 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 concluded.

Campuses are expected to return to its normal operations from Monday.

The institution however still encourages students to register online unless it is absolutely necessary to visit one of their centres.

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