DURBAN - UNISA students have launched an online petition demanding that the institution give them their certificates.
Some students claim that despite passing their respective courses months ago, they are yet to receive word on whether there will be a certificate handover of any sort.
Several students are unable to work as they cannot apply for jobs. Others are stuck in other countries as a result of the matter.
Odete Jones started the online petition, which will be handed over to management.
Jones, who spent the last four years studying towards her teaching degree, said she had exhausted all channels in trying to get word from Unisa or management.
"I have lodged a formal complaint with the Ombudsman at Unisa and am playing a game of tag," she said.
Jones said she was told that due to Covid, Unisa could not host graduation ceremonies.
"I understand this, but other places have held virtual graduations," Jones said.
She said, in the case of those who studied towards teaching degrees, they are stranded.
"We are unable to get jobs or register with professional bodies who won't accept anything other than the certificate! In the case of SACE, for teachers, we will get a temporary number and would then need to pay again for a permanent number. Some students need to immigrate, and some have lost positions as they cannot show they have their degrees.
“How long does it take to print and send certificates? The university is infringing on our rights and using Covid as an excuse for dismal and pathetic service delivery," Jones said.
Another student, Lauren Kirchner, wrote her exam over a year ago and has yet to receive her degree. Kirchner is currently in Hong Kong, where she cannot register to teach because of the delay.
She said she sent countless emails over the last year and contacted various deans, heads of departments and the ombudsman and has not heard back.
"The last response was a telephone call I made, and they had lost my address, so that was apparently the hold-up. I've had friends that graduated the same time as me and have received their degrees. I am sitting in another country at the moment. I need my degree in order to register to teach.
“The university has put me in a very awkward and embarrassing situation with my employer and the Hong Kong government. Its unacceptable and shocking. I get my sister to phone once a week to check up on progress. They just say due to Covid, no staff has been on campus to process the certificates," Kirchner said.
Students have also resorted to commenting on Unisa's Facebook page, seeking answers.
"Our certificates please. We are losing job opportunities day by day," said Lerato Lee Mnguni.
"Unisa, yes we need to get our degree certificates so we can get on with our lives," wrote Ronnie Naidu.
Unisa had not responded to requests for comment at the time of publishing.