WSU students' year in turmoil after they were suddenly deregistered

‘Next year NSFAS will need our 2020 academic records and we will have nothing to show. How will we secure funding to further our studies?’

20 November 2020 - 09:30 By Gugu Phandle
In May, more than 100 students were removed from the Walter Sisulu University academic system and are unable to write their final exams.
In May, more than 100 students were removed from the Walter Sisulu University academic system and are unable to write their final exams.
Image: FILE

More than 100 Walter Sisulu University (WSU) students  were abruptly deregistered in the middle of the year.

According to the students, who were all in the faculty of science, engineering and technology, they registered for the 2020 academic year in February, but to their shock, months later the university said their registrations were “illegal”.

In May, the students were removed from the academic system and are unable to write their final exams.

Speaking on behalf of the aggrieved students, Zintle Sali, who is studying analytical chemistry, said a list of “academically excluded” students had been released in March, “and those students who were on that list then wrote letters of appeal”.

“On May 10 we received an e-mail which said we had been illegally registered at the institution.

“Four days later, we were deregistered.

“On the day we were deregistered, we were shown another list which had the names of students who were unaware they had been academically excluded,” Sali said.

An inquiry sent to university spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo was unanswered by print deadline on Thursday.

WSU Buffalo City campus Student Representative Council (SRC) premier Sipho Sizani, who was recently suspended by the university after the return of the last cohort of students to the institution, said: “The  first list of students who had been academically excluded was released in January, during registration.

“The SRC went through the list and found the university had prescribed 2020 prospectus rules to determine the exclusion, but the students’ results were from 2019.”

Academic exclusion is based on academic performance.

“We challenged the institution to rectify the matter and focus on using the correct prospectus in gauging academic exclusion,” Sizani said, adding management agreed to rectify the matter.

However, Sizani said the same list, but this time with more names on it, was published in March.

“By that time students had settled in academically, were at their respective residences and continuing with their studies.

“Some appealed, and some found themselves stuck as they appeared on the March list but had not appeared on the January list.

“The university said the second list was an automated one which picked up students who had already registered,” Sizani said.

Sizani said the academic exclusion list contained the names of students who had passed all their modules in 2019.

“That is why it was our suggestion to suspend academic exclusion in 2020 as it was applied incorrectly,” Sizani said.

Sali said a number of students had been afraid to break the news to their parents.

“We spent a good part of the year focusing on our studies, and to be told this academic year will not count has a ripple effect on our schooling.

“Most of us are National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) beneficiaries.

“We have been receiving our NSFAS money but we have been deregistered from the institution.

“Next year, NSFAS will need our 2020 academic records and we will have nothing to show. How will we secure funding to further our studies next year?

“This matter has brought nothing but pain and disruption. Many of us have given up on this academic year,” Sali said.

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