Unisa’s Student Representative Council (SRC) has threatened to approach the courts over delays in accepting students for the 2021 academic year.
In March, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria set aside a decision by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande that Unisa reduces its first-time student intake for the year 2021.
As a result of that decision, Unisa accepted only 38000 first-year students, which was around 20,000 less than first expected.
The case was brought by the EFF Student Command, while the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) joined the case as a friend of the court.
Responding to the court judgment at the time, the EFF said the ruling was a victory for education and the future of the country.
“The court has affirmed the application by the EFF Student Command, and the position of the EFF that the exclusion of 20,000 students constitutes a regressive anti-intellectual decision that will subject thousands of young people to the streets of this country, crime and unemployment,” it said in a statement, while the university said it would study the judgment and determine a way forward.
“The university wishes to emphasise that any decision on the way forward will be taken with the best interests of the students at heart. Such a decision will also seek to demonstrate our student-centredness as a university; as well as our commitment to the ideals encapsulated in the National Development Plan (NDP) and its aspirations to empower young people to improve their lives through education,” it said in a statement.
Speaking to SABC News, SRC chairperson Inga Ketwa expressed disappointment at the university’s failure to comply with the court judgment.
“We have tried to shut down campuses, physically (and) it has not been effective. We’re left with no other choice, but to seek a legal route. But of course, a legal route is draining. So we are still exploring that. On Friday, higher education officials told Parliament the minister was seeking legal counsel on the matter after receiving a copy of the judgment on April 6. The university was not available for comment,” Ketwa said.
Unisa students have taken to social media to voice their concerns.
Earlier this year, the university caused an uproar among students when it announced a shortened academic year.
“The shorter academic year allows for only one semester for the semester modules, commencing in April 2021,” the university said in a statement.
READ MORE: Unisa semester change raises students’ ire
“All assignment due dates for semester modules in the 2021 academic year will be revised with submission due dates scheduled between May and September.”
Additional reporting by Rorisang Kgosana