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Unisa’s response to the Ministerial directive to reduce the number of First Time Entering (FTE) students in 2021 and to commence the 2021 Academic year for the first time Unisa enrolments in March 2021


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Unisa’s response to the Ministerial directive to reduce the number of First Time Entering (FTE) students in 2021 and to commence the 2021 Academic year for the first time Unisa enrolments in March 2021

6th January 2021


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In response to the letter from the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, dated, 28 December 2020, the University of South Africa’s (Unisa) Council met on the 02 January 2021, to consider the Directive.

Council considered the Directive with the understanding that in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Unisa’s preparedness to operate as a fully-fledged Open Distance and e-Learning (ODeL) institution has been put to a test. In this context, Council and Management has taken the position that indicates that, with regard to institutional operations, it cannot be business as usual at Unisa. The situation placed the University in a position where it has no choice, but to make the necessary adjustments to its operations. Amongst others, issues such as Unisa’s shape and size and its capacity to effectively support the students have been subjected to deliberations within the institution.


It is against this background that the University Council, in agreement with the Minister, took the following resolutions:

That the 2021 academic year will commence in March 2021. The intention is to begin the academic year in March to ensure alignment with the whole HE sector which will commence with the first-year registrations in March or April 2021. This has been necessitated by the fact that the Grade 12 results are only due to be released on the 23 February 2020. Furthermore, many universities will only be completing their academic year in January, February and March 2021. In agreeing with the Minister, this will enable new students entering the university sector and those transferring from other institutions to enroll at Unisa.


To reduce the number of first-time entering students in 2021: This resolution is meant to ensure (1) financial sustainability of the University and the sector, and (2) to enable the University’s to effectively support the students.

Registration: In order to ensure that the students are not unduly disadvantaged, registration of returning students will proceed during the next two months. This decision was taken to ensure that the University does not have a backlog when the academic year starts in March. 

Supplementary examinations: Arrangements will be made to ensure that students who need to take supplementary exams, as well as exams for Honours students during February, are accommodated.

Finally, Council acknowledges that these are unusual times for both the University and the country, hence the need to manage these matters in a transparent manner, whilst ensuring that all the students are not unduly disadvantaged. The University is committed to the provision of all the assistance that the students would require, in dealing with these matters.

Finally, the University will further engage on these matters with the students. Where necessary, communication will be done directly with the affected students.


Issued by UNISA





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