Despite being a mainly distance education establishment, the University of South Africa (Unisa) has historically still conduced its examinations in person. This has been changed to an online approach due to the COVID-19 pandemic and several problems have popped up because of this.

The May / June examination period has been active for about a week now and students which have written some of the new online tests have encountered numerous problems along the way. Problems when loading the Unisa site, inability to download exam questions, failures with the uploads of answers and more have all plagued students so far. This has resulted in some students being left unable to properly complete their exams as instructed by no fault of their own, and some of these were rescheduled for a later date.

Moving of exam dates is particularly stressful for all those involved. Many students are also employed full time and these exams require time to be taken off of work. Other problems like clashing dates are also an issue here.

Unisa has provided comment to us about this:

“The rescheduling of these modules to later dates (still within the current examinations period) was essential to improve the system performances. SMSes were sent to inform students of changes to the timetable and not the cancellation of the examinations. Only two days (26 and 27 May) were affected where a few modules had to be rescheduled to the consecutive Saturdays (30th May, 6 June and 13 June). This information has already communicated to the students and they are aware of their new examination dates,” reads the statement from Unisa.

As the examination period continues it can only be hoped that the systems will work as intended going forward. As COVID-19 has changed education so rapidly these types of teething problems can be expected, but that makes them no less messy for students trying to write and universities trying to manage them.

For more information on this topic we recommend our extensive interview with Unisa Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mandla Makhanya.