A few weeks into registration in January this year, the University of South Africa announced that there would one learning period the whole year and students had to register all the modules they intended to do for the year. Simply put, this year UNISA students are doing all their modules at once and they will sit for exams at the end of the year. But its not as easy as it sounds.
Firstly, by the time UNISA announced the development, some students had already paid and registered. It was now challenging for them to add more modules and meet the minimum required payments in such short notice. A lot of UNISA’s students have to work to raise their fees and this only made things for them. Many of those funded by NSFAS had to wait anxiously for their final registration while others had already stated studying, some were only registered at the end of April.
Secondly, teaching staff had not prepared for this change, they had drafted tutorial letters and prepared assignments for both semesters and this information had already been given to students. All this had to change and assignments for a single learning period had to be prepared and passed to students as soon as possible. As can be expected, this meant that some students who so their work early had to set aside some assignments they had already worked on and do the new ones.
As a result, students struggled to submit their work on time and lectures had to postpone assignment due dates. While extensions bring some comfort to the students, they frustrate teaching staff, and they delay the marking process. Imagine you are teacher, you want to discuss answers to an assignment that students wrote, but some students are still busy with the same assignment. Now you can’t discuss because you don’t want to compromise the assignment.
The super semester was a bad idea and a recipe for disaster. It is mentally draining for everyone and it excluded some students from learning. Let us hope lessons have been drawn from this experience and that proper considerations will be made next time UNISA intends to make drastic changes and communicating such changes.
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