The University of South Africa (Unisa) has once again extended the date for new and returning students to register for the first semester of 2020.

Originally the closing date for this was 24th January. This was moved to 1st February, and now it has been shifted yet again to 7th February.

While Unisa has not provided much explanation for these moves, two factors seem to be the main culprits: late examination result releases and a strike.

Results from the October / November 2019 exam period took so long to be released that many students were not sure of their grades going into January of 2020. While, at this point, it seems that all students have their results now, this was not the case for month.

Without information on performance from last semester, registering for a new semester is a challenge. If, for example, a student failed a module and was not alerted in time, they may have already registered themselves for the new semester, meaning that they have locked themselves out from retaking the failed module for this semester.

The other big factor here is that of a strike. Earlier this month Unisa staff began strike action over wage negotiations which is still ongoing at the time of writing. These staff have even prevented students from entering Unisa campuses, which is where many prospective learners would have registered.

While online registration is available, and what the university prefers students use, this process has problems too. The online registration process is infamous for being vague, spitting out errors, and overall being difficult to use. Many who attempt to register online find themselves travelling to a Unisa campus later to try and complete the process.

If you’re rightfully wondering “why don’t students just phone or email to speak to staff which aren’t striking?” this is because Unisa has a reputation for never answering on either line of communication. Travelling to a campus is a final option for many in this way.

All of these delays and extensions have a knock-on effect for the rest of this semester. The later students register the less time they have to actually study, complete assignments and prepare for the May / June exam period.