Lower first-year intake at Unisa limiting but necessary - Universities SA

Universities South Africa CEO said while the move might threaten access to education for many, the reduced number would ensure sustainability.

FILE: Students outside the Unisa Sunnyside campus in Pretoria on 15 January 2018. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - There is growing backlash in the higher education sector following the University of South Africa's (Unisa) decision to reduce its first-year intake by 20,000 people.

Unisa, which is one of the largest open distance learning institutions in Africa, said last week the decision followed an order from Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimade.

Part of the reason for lower admission this year was the inability of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme to meet demand. The minister is also trying to prevent a backlog when Unisa's academic year starts in March.

READ: Unisa reduces 2021 intake of first-year student by 20,000

But the United Democratic Front Youth Vanguard critised the move and called it outrageous. The organisation said the minister as failed to understand the role played by Unisa in resolving the space constraints at many universities in the country, as well as the advantage of distance learning during the pandemic.

Universities South Africa CEO Ahmed Bawa said on Sunday while the move might threaten access to education for many, the reduced number would ensure sustainability.

“From what I can gather, the minister's question to limit Unisa's intake is really to bring it back into its enrollment planning. What that means is that Unisa will be in a position where it is admitting 20,000 fewer students this year and that, of course, has consequences in terms of access.”

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