The University of South Africa (Unisa) is now firmly into the May / June examination period which it has had to move online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many problems have sprung up during this time and so the university has issued an apology to its students who have been affected.

As we discussed last week many students writing the first of these exams experienced a range of problems such as not being able to download their exams, the site crashing in the middle of a session, and the inability to upload a completed script once finished.

All of this has been rather stressful for students especially those who need to take time off of work to write. While Unisa has been working on these problems, those affected so far have had their exam dates and / or times changed to later slots.

“Although we have had to move approximately seven examinations to date – the university wishes to assure students that these decisions are not taken lightly. They are made in the best interest of the students since we have needed to spread the load on the system. The examinations that have needed to be moved have been those with very large numbers of students – some modules have up to 32 000 students needing to write at the same time. These time changes have been necessary to ensure that students in large numbers are able to write their examinations at a time when the traffic on the system is low,” reads a press release sent to us.

As of 4th June, 2 000 exams had been written online for the May / June period. Of those only seven have been moved to account for high load on the Unisa website and problems caused by it.

Students who are still scheduled to write exams will be notified if any of their dates or times are changed.

If you go to any of the university’s social media pages (Twitter being a prime example) you will find many comments from frustrated students. This, along with other communication from the student body seems to be what prompted the response:

“The University of South Africa (Unisa) is aware of the concerns relating to online examinations raised by students via online, social media platforms, emails and other channels. The university is aware of the various challenges that some students have been experiencing over the past two weeks. The institution would like to apologise to those students who have been affected by the technical glitches, and wants to reassure students that it is working around the clock to address these issues and finding a resolution remains a top priority,” the press release adds.