The Unisa main campus in Muckleneuk. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
The Unisa main campus in Muckleneuk. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Unisa slams critics of its research capacity

By Rapula Moatshe Time of article published Oct 20, 2021

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Pretoria - Unisa management has rubbished media reports putting into question the institution’s research outputs, labelling them “misleading, malicious and inaccurate”.

This follows a Sunday Times report, in which Professor Nico Cloete from Stellenbosch University expressed the view that Unisa’s reputation was taking a knock owing to its inability to contribute to knowledge production through research.

According to the report, Cloete also suggested that the view was generally shared by academics.

Reacting to the criticism, Unisa yesterday said its “research outputs, relative to the numbers of students per academic, is commendable and does not compare to any other university”.

It labelled as “fallacious” comments seeking to compare the institution “with universities which differ with it on size, mission, research, complexities and numbers”.

In an indirect attack to the likes of Cloete, Unisa said: “Opportunistic scholars or individuals who seek to validate themselves by publicly prejudicing Unisa and undermining the efforts of its staff and students in the pursuit of knowledge excellence unduly harm the enhancement strategies that Unisa has put in place.”

There have also been criticisms made by social media users, suggesting the sale of qualifications at Unisa and calling into question their integrity.

The university said: “Unisa has several well-established processes designed to safeguard the integrity of its qualifications. The process of qualifications begins right at the point when prospective students apply to study at Unisa, because they must meet strict qualifying criteria to be admitted to their course of choice. In the same way those students must meet all relevant entry requirements and, on completion of their course, they earn a qualification because they have met strict criteria.”

It also addressed concerns regarding delivery delays of certificates to students.

“Outside the context of Covid-19, graduation certificates are often given to students at graduation ceremonies and in their hand. This has meant that the certificates land in the right hands. However, during Covid-19, the university arranged courier services locally and internationally to deliver certificates to students. Given the scale of the operation, of at least 60 000+ certificates requiring delivery to varied contexts, there have been challenges," the university said.

It was said that more than 60 000 certificates were due for delivery, and they entailed uncollected certificates from 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

A total of 46 071 certificates were due for collection for 2021. To date, 31 000 of the 46 000 certificates have been issued to students.

“To mitigate these risks, the university has changed its model and arranged for the collection of certificates at Unisa regional offices or centres across the provinces.”

The National Student Representative Council also joined the fray, condemning the media reports for “discrediting the integrity of Unisa qualifications and denoting the hard work of Unisa students to nothingness”.

Pretoria News

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