Tshwane universities are gradually adapting to online lectures. Picture: AP
Tshwane universities are gradually adapting to online lectures. Picture: AP

Telecommunications boost for students at Tshwane universities

By Sakhile Ndlazi Time of article published May 18, 2020

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Pretoria - Universities are gradually adapting to online lectures and some forging groundbreaking partnerships with telecommunications companies to enhance their offerings.

The University of Pretoria (UP) and Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University started with their virtual lectures three weeks ago.

However, students at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) will have to wait until next month. The university said it was finalising its student biographical survey to determine the rollout of multi-modal remote learning programmes.

Vice-chancellor Lourens van Staden said they have 65 000 students across the country, 90% of them from deep rural areas. He said implementing an emergency remote learning strategy for them required more time.

“What the university has planned is that the bulk of students will receive printed learning materials to the door and others who have indicated that they prefer online learning will do so. These learning programmes will start on June 1,” Van Staden said.

He said the university was at an advanced stage of providing students with laptops for online learning.

He dispelled rumours that the university was considering cancelling the 2020 exams. He said they were instead considering a new academic calendar and exams would be written at a later stage, most possibly next year.

By continuing the academic programme in June, Van Staden said, would give them an opportunity to complete 27 weeks of teaching and learning before final exams are written.

In terms of the proposed exam dates, final-year students and BTech exams have been pencilled in for February, first-year students would write in March and second-year students in April.

Meanwhile, Unisa students are set to get a major boost ahead of the exams, courtesy of a groundbreaking partnership between the university and MTN.

The two concluded a business agreement that will see all registered Unisa students receive 30GB of data per month (10GB anytime and 20GB night time) for two months from mid-May to mid-July.

Unisa said the offer of free data to all registered students during this period was necessary and timely to create an enabling environment for students who will be sitting for non-venue-based examinations from May 25.

Unisa’s contribution of R59.72million over two months will offer about 24 million gigabytes during this period to a student population of approximately 390 000.

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Pretoria News

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