Returning students to the University of South Africa (Unisa) have been given yet another week to register for the second semester as the school delays the final date to do so for the third time.

The original date for this was 24th July. This was delayed to 5th August, then 11th August, and now to 18th August.

While Unisa has not provided a reason for this extension in the announcement, the problem is likely tracked back to the late release of exam results for online papers written in the first semester of 2020.

After moving exams online Unisa students wrote a reported 1.3 million papers, but then the institution missed its own deadline to release results from it. This created many problems for students when it came to registration, especially for knowing which modules to pick next, arranging tuition payments, and organising study material.

Moving of these dates also affects the time students have available to complete important assignments and study for the October / November exam period. These too are being shuffled around and Unisa has currently told students that a new timetable for these will be released in September.

While it would be easy to pin these delays on the COVID-19 pandemic, this exact scenario happened in the beginning of the year, before the coronavirus had arrived in South Africa and the national lockdown went into place.

The first semester of 2020 also had its registration delayed three times. The problem back then was similarly due to the late release of exam results.

All students can do now is register for the next semester when possible and try to make the most of the time left. The second semester of every year is traditionally shorter than the first, so time was already at a premium before these delays.

Hopefully by the time the first semester of 2021 comes around, these problems will be ironed out or at least reduced.