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Community/Street Law closing ceremony a happy occasion

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A well attended closing function of the Community/Street Law programme took place on the 3rd of September at Unisa’s Kgorong building at the main campus in Pretoria. The ceremony capped months of presentations in churches, schools, workplaces and even prisons by Unisa’s law students on topics like children’s rights, employment law, maintenance and law of succession.

Guest speaker and Manager of the School for Legal Practice in Pretoria Mrs Ursula Hartzenberg emphasised the need for humility from those with the privilege to lead by sharing the story of UK Prime Minister William Goldstone who insisted on making use of public transport despite his status as minister.  Head of the Unisa Law Clinic HC Saayman delivered the keynote address at the event before handing over certificates and gifts to students who took part in the programme in 2013.

Street Law coordinator Calvin Nongongo praised the groups of students who were transported from places like Rustenburg, Nelspruit and Johannesburg for the dedication they showed.  Nongongo also recognised the group of students from Polokwane led by Kopano Moloto (pictured, with Mr Saayman on the left and Ms Ursula Hartzenberg on the right) for organising the most workshops this year. The Community/Street Law Programme is set to begin again in the New Year

Last Updated on Friday, 13 December 2013 09:49
 

Invigilators reapplied for their jobs; investigation still continues

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No arrests yetIt is now over six months after a second exam question paper scandal in just as many years stunned Unisa and there is little hope that the investigation will be concluded soon. Although Unisa spokesperson Martin Ramotshela confirms that the investigation is still ongoing, he is scant about how long it will take.

The affected exam sessions for four modules were postponed by Unisa following damaging evidence of the theft and sale of question papers which threatened to disrupt the entire exam period in May and June of this year. Unisa was quick to respond by postponing the exams for the affected modules and appointing what it called a high-level Unisa management task team whose stated task was tightening the controls of examination management.

Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Mandla Makhanya delivered an impassioned plea on a video posted to the Unisa website on the 17th of May calling for those with information that could help the police to come forward. He also apologised to all the affected students on the video clip and ended it with a forceful warning directed at those involved in exam fraud. Prof. Makhanya notably referred to an earlier case of examination fraud by saying: “We have had some, albeit relatively slow success with the police regarding the two matters of examination fraud that arose in November 2012.” on the same video recording.

 

Although five suspects were eventually arrested and nine students dismissed and banned for life from studying at Unisa after the November 2012 controversy it seems that the police are even slower with their investigation into the May/June 2013 incidents of examination fraud. Ramotshela told StudyNotesWiki that Unisa had all their invigilators reapply for their jobs and that they were subjected to stringent checks. It does appear, however, that much more needs to be done especially by the police in order to protect the integrity of Unisa qualifications.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 November 2013 08:42
 

UKZN report gives Unisa a pass

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A study by the University of KwaZulu-Natal has commended Unisa for its performance on research productivity and overall equity. The aim of the study which was presented to Parliament late last month was to examine demographic profiles particularly on race and gender as well as research output at public higher education institutions.

Unisa fared well compared to other Universities like Stellenbosch University which is reported to have the least transformed student body of the 23 Universities that were inspected. Unisa also got special mention in the study for its effort to "Africanise" fifty percent of its curriculum.

A black academic working at Unisa is quoted in the report as having said that not speaking with the "correct" accent makes black staff insecure and impacted on their confidence. The academic added that white colleagues at Unisa showed little sympathy and support and behaved "like a trade union against transformation" as they work hard to keep black academics out of fields such as Accounting and Law.

The report also notes that Unisa has adopted its Charter on Reconciliation and Transformation which is an important step in encouraging social cohesion and transformation. Other institutions like University of Johannesburg, University of Free State and Durban University of Technology have adopted or are in the process of developing their own Transformation Charters.

The UKZN researchers who compiled the report also told Parliament’s university oversight committee that at the current pace it will take around 40 years to transform the staff profile of South Africa’s higher education institutions to reflect the demographics of the country.

 

Partnership between SAPS and Unisa lauded.

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News of the agreement between Unisa and the South African Police Service to form a Police University in Paarl has been well received overall. The Police University will sign up 120 students for a Bachelor’s degree in Police Science in January next year.

Unisa Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Mandla Makhanya told an audience that included the Minister of Police and the National Commissioner during the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Unisa and the SAPS that the new university needs to develop a model that is a hybrid characterisation of theoretical and practical training.

StudyNotesWiki spoke to Senior Researcher at the Institute for Security Studies Dr Johan Burger who said that he is happy about this partnership as the police will not be establishing the University on their own.

Many well wishers used social media to share their thoughts on the new university. Taariq Kagee (@TKagee) tweeted "Good luck. General Phiyega should know it’s not so easy." Another twitter user named Blessed Best (@bsithole570) heaped praise tweeting "Agreement signed by department of police & unisa is good decision [sic] it’ll reduce fraud qualifications in the department of police."

Unisa and the SAPS are yet to provide details as to the cost of tuition and boarding at the new establishment.

Last Updated on Monday, 28 October 2013 14:44
 

Alumnus interview: Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng

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Mogoeng Mogoeng is the current Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. he was nominated by President Jacob Zuma and appointed in 2011.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng

1. Tell us about yourself?

I believe in carrying out my duties within a short space of time without compromising quality of the service rendered. Honesty, respect for others, however low their station in life, love and caring for fellow human beings, transparency, as well as adherence to principles, define what I am about.

2. Describe your most enjoyable moment during your days as a student at Unisa?

As a part-time Masters student, I enjoyed the occasional engagement with my lecturers, especially my supervisor. The discourse was rewarding and the lecturers’ readiness to guide and their humility, especially then, was inspirational.

3. Describe your least enjoyable moment during your days as a student at Unisa?

I struggled with the Law of Insurance. It kept me sweating and the thought of it brought sorrow to my heart. When I ultimately passed it, my joy was without bounds.

4. How has your experience as a student at Unisa subsequently helped set you apart?

I majored in Labour Law. This helped me to be among the few black lawyers who served in the Industrial Court. Several years later, I was appointed to act in the Labour Appeal Court as a Judge. My Masters degree enhanced my practice as an Advocate and contributed immensely in my appointment as a part-time Senior Lecturer at North West University.

5. Your best advice for current students?

Be focused. Work hard. Watch the company you keep. Think always about the contribution you are going to make to help South Africa become a better place for all who live in it; your role in bringing about social-cohesion, by uniting and recovering South Africans across the racial and gender divide.

Last Updated on Saturday, 19 October 2013 08:12
 

myUnisa in need of extra cold rebooting

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Most of us have tried to log onto my.unisa.ac.za only to be confronted by a doomful notice coupled with the customary and inane apology telling us that myUnisa is down for one or other reason.

The site administrators at myUnisa concede that many students get in contact with them time and again in order to lodge their complaints which range from the site only loading half the content to the site not recognising their legitimate login details.

StudyNotesWiki spoke to Dane Milton from myUnisa who says the site was off this past weekend due to necessary maintenance upgrades. He adds that it often takes an entire day to reboot the site on days that it crashes.

"Crashes often occur due to increased traffic on the website because too many students are submitting their assignments" he says.

Unisa assisted more than 1.2 million students in 2011 through myUnisa according the Sakai Project which supplies the software myUnisa runs on.

Unisa SRC president Brian Mphahlele says the SRC is disappointed by the many breakdowns myUnisa experiences and that this is an indication of the negative effect that Unisa’s effort to introduce e-learning on a larger scale will have on students especially those who live in rural areas. "We cannot decide to go online overnight." says Mphahlele.

Dane Milton assured us that Unisa is doing various things to improve myUnisa's reliability although he ignored our request for specific examples of this.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 October 2013 08:49
 


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