The University of South Africa (Unisa) is currently in the middle of the May / June examination period for a difficult first semester of 2020. Its student body has been writing these exams online to remain safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the conversion rate of success has been on the decent side.

“Did you know, more than 72% of all students who were eligible to write up to 6 June, wrote examinations successfully. We are working on a solution for students who could not write their exams in the past two weeks due to technical glitches or postponements. Students will be notified of the new exam dates soon,” the university writes in a Facebook post.

That 72 percent has been given some context in a follow up on the Unisa site. According to the institution 284 789 students were admitted to write in the May / June period and 206 700 of them have written one or more exam already.

As we covered at the start of this month, the first batch of students to write online faced many problems with the newly implemented systems. Exam papers were unavailable, uploading of answers was usually impossible and sometimes the servers would simply crash making everything inaccessible.

Those affected by these problems have been encouraged by Unisa to contact the university over phone or email with these special contact details. Unfortunately many students have been reporting that neither one of these contact methods are effective as university staff have not been answering the calls or emails on these dedicated lines.

Unmanned phones and email accounts have always been a problem at Unisa, something we asked its Principal and Vice-Chancellor about in an interview in May. Professor Mandla Makhanya stated at the time that Unisa had, “bolstered its student services and resuscitated the student call centre”,  but that hasn’t been apparent yet. Hopefully that changes soon as the exam period continues.