Unisa accommodates student concerns with alternative exam dates

02 May 2018 - 15:18 By Sipho Mabena
An aerial view of the University of South Africa (Unisa) Pretoria campus.
An aerial view of the University of South Africa (Unisa) Pretoria campus.
Image: Supplied

The University of SA (Unisa) is offering students alternative dates to write their first semester examinations to afford all students reasonable time to prepare.

In a statement on its website‚ Unisa said: "All examinations commencing from 7 May 2018 to 18 May 2018 will now also be written from 18 June 2018 to 29 June 2018*. Please note that the decision to extend the examinations applies only to formal qualifications and not to short learning programmes. We advise you to write your examinations at per the original timetable if at all possible."

A more detailed explanation is available at Unisa;s website.

On Wednesday Unisa's vice-chancellor‚ Professor Mandla Makhanya‚ said in reaching the agreement‚ the institution took into consideration grievances raised by students about the late delivery and receipt of study material as well as late receipt of assignment feedback.

“Students have raised the concern that these issues have a negative impact on their examination preparedness‚” he said.

Makhanya said in the first semester of 2018‚ the university took cognisance of the ripple effect of the late applications and registrations following the announcement of free education by government. He said they had cautioned that the late admissions and registrations will affect the students entering the system so late in the academic year‚ with the effect that submission of assignments (including assignment feedback) will be late and that their examination preparedness will be compromised.

Makhanya said students‚ however‚ insisted on proceeding with registration in spite of the risk that was flagged‚ saying when the risk became a reality it was the students again who approached the university and demanded a postponement of the examination.

“Notwithstanding that we had cautioned against such an eventuality; and in order to afford all students a reasonable time to prepare for examinations‚" the university had resolved to agree to the alternative dates.

Makhanya also lamented that they were sitting with a serious challenge with delays in the confirmation of NSFAS grants and the subsequent delay in the purchasing of textbooks for beneficiaries.

This affected students' examination readiness and their potential to succeed.

“For management and staff‚ this has been the most frustrating experience as we do not have a direct role to play in the allocation of these resources‚” Makhanya said.

*Correction: Our original story, published on 2 May, stated that exams had been postponed by two weeks, when in actual fact Unisa is allowing students the choice to write in May or June.