Nursing students at the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT) Indumiso campus in Imbali on Tuesday took to the streets and protested against the alleged unfairness of how the institution is handling their assessments.
Their grievances included being allegedly told to write the first semester’s exams now and the alleged poor management of online learning programmes by DUT.
They also accused the university of failing to help them accumulate the community services hours required by the SA Nursing Council.
“There’re students that were supposed to finish in June but they couldn’t complete their community services because of the lockdown.
“Now when they came back they found that the housing department didn’t make any arrangements to cater for them. They were kicked out of the residence and there was not even a written notice.
“They were just told that the new students are moving in and now they are back to write their exams but they have nowhere to sleep,” said student representative Anele Mbili.
The students also alleged that DUT also lost records of some of the community services hours they already submitted that are required by the council for them to graduate.
She said other universities that offer nursing were doing continuous assessment where students had to submit assignments and write tests instead of sitting for first semester exams, because they understand how Covid-19 impacted on their academic programmes.
“They want us to write for the first semester now and then the second semester in June.”
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Mbili said the extension of the academic year due to Covid-19 also impacted on the space allocation for community services in hospitals and clinics so they had to reapply but there was no guarantee that they would get in.
“We might have to wait until June before we get placed and we’re supposed to have already graduated by then. We also don’t know if NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme) will extend the funding until then because we are supposed to be finishing now in December,” said Mbili.
On the poor management of online learning, the students also alleged that their November exam timetable had some modules they never even attended.
One of them, they said, was the general education course which they are supposed to write next week. Precious Ndlovu said some of the students were not even registered for that module because they did not even know that it was also offered online.
“Last night was the first time I made contact with the online lecturer for this module now I’m expected to sit for an exam on November 16.”
Ndlovu said DUT’s online learning was “in shambles” but the management at Indumiso campus did not want to deal with the issues raised by the students.
“We’ve been raising these grievances with them for months and the lecturers just laugh at us. They have no idea how stressful this is on us. I’m talking about psychologists who are our lecturers who should be more sympathetic to our plight,” said Thando Mamba.
EFF student command member Sabelo Mpulo said they would continue protesting until their demands are met. He said the civil engineering students also faced the same challenges as their colleagues doing nursing.
“There are a lot of students who are going to face academic and financial exclusion because of this mess,” said Mpulo.
DUT spokesperson Alan Khan said the management was aware of the memorandum of demands that was submitted by students last week.
“The head of department has since met with the students and provided them with a very detailed response to their concerns. It seems that the students are dissatisfied with the HOD’s response.”
He said as a result, the interim executive dean in the faculty of health sciences, Professor Ashley Ross, would be meeting with the group of nursing students today, “as we strive to amicably resolve the situation related to the completion of their first semester assessments”.