Students outside Unisa in Durban. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)
Students outside Unisa in Durban. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)

Nzimande defends instruction to Unisa to reduce first-year enrolments

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Mar 8, 2021

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Cape Town - Universities should stick to their student enrolment limits so that there were no implications for others where money was taken away from them.

This was the view of Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande when he was responding to questions on his instructions to Unisa to reduce the number of first-entry students this year.

The EFF Student Command has taken the matter to court. Judgment was reserved.

Nzimande said it was unfortunate the Unisa matter has reached courts.

“No one wants to see exclusion of any students in our system who should actually be absorbed.

“This matter is a bit difficult to deal with in some detail because it is before courts,” he said.

“Apart from no one wanting to punish or see students excluded, all what we did as the department, and it’s an opportunity to explain this again, was to insist with all our institutions that they must stick to agreed to enrolment plans, all of our universities not just Unisa,” the minister said.

Nzimande said there was a six-year student enrolment plan and they would enter next year.

“Every institution of government that takes people for whatever reason, like educational institutions, would have numbers that have an upper limit. If they have got so much space that are funded, they are expected not to take more or less of the students,” he said.

“If any one of the institutions decided to take more that has huge implications. One, it means then we have to take money from other institutions to support those who have gone beyond the limit that is set,” Nzimande said.

He also said it was very unfortunate for Unisa for two years in a row to have decide to enrol more students.

“All we said to Unisa we need to correct that. We can’t continue to be doing this because if we allow, it we are to throwing our enrolment plans out of the window.”

Nzimande said the instruction to Unisa to reduce first-year enrolments was not meant to punish students but it was to ensure there was a system that met student needs.

“I cant say more than that now because the matter is before the courts, but I want to reiterate that no one is against Unisa. No one is for exclusion of students, where students should be actually taken but at the same time we all have to stick to our enrolment plans.”

He welcomed the move by the higher education and training portfolio committee to summons Unisa to explain why it exceeded the enrolments and who was responsible for that.

“This has created an unnecessary situation, unnecessary tensions and an attempt by our detractors, as if our government is for exclusions of students.

“We are not for that (and) that is why we pay billions to support student with National Student Financial Aid Scheme,” Nzimande said.

Political Bureau

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