Pandor challenges universities to ensure students complete studies

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Higher education institutions must ensure that students who enter the system, complete their studies. This is the message delivered by Higher Education Minister, Naledi Pandor, who was speaking at the University of South Africa’s 145th anniversary celebration.

Former South African President and Chancellor of the University, Thabo Mbeki, was among the dignitaries who attended the event.

UNISA was established as part of Fort Hare University in 1783. Now, over a hundred years later, it is the biggest university in Africa.

As a long distance learning institution, which has adapted to technological developments, it boasts students from all over the world.

While prospective students are able to apply and register online, the university also runs some course tutorials online. Higher Education Minister, Naledi Pandor, has acknowledged the institution’s contribution.

“In South Africa, at present, distance education accounts for just over one third of university enrolments with the vast majority of distance enrolments at this very university -UNISA. Over it’s 145 year history UNISA has provided opportunities for a diverse range of students to access university studies, particularly those who could not of who were prevented from accessing traditional pathways.”

The outgoing UNISA SRC president, Zandile Sodladla, has called for a greater appreciation of student activism on campuses across all tertiary institutions. She was invited to deliver a message of support on behalf of students. Sodladla says all too often, student activists feel that they are targeted and victimised by management.

“We are here because of students activism. The SRC are bone of students activism. If ever there was nostudents activism, there won’t be SRCs and it was not going to be dotted in the DHET act that SRCs must be there. Because of students activism the srcs were born. So we are here today because of that and at UNISA the role that the SRCs plays is quite huge.”

Former South African President and Chancellor of the University, Thabo Mbeki, says UNISA is on the right path to becoming a pure African university. He has encouraged current students, staff and management to forge ahead in this pursuit.

“It is in the context of imagined future that all of us will work to live up to the vision of reconstructing UNISA as practically the African university that I am honoured to salute all of those, staff, students, management and workers of UNISA who will be the architect of this outcome.”

Meanwhile, Minister Pandor says UNISA has contributed significantly to the enlightenment of, especially, Africans over the years. She has challenged tertiary institutions to ensure that students complete their university studies. She says the country cannot afford to waste its human resources.

“One of the first challenges is the university all in it’s systems practices and support intervention must embrace the fact that access must result in success. Too many students are entering our universities to fail. We cannot afford such a waste of human resources.”

UNISA is one of the oldest universities in the country, through which many prominent people have obtained their qualifications, including the late former President Nelson Mandela. He graduated with an LLB Degree from the institution.

The university has also conferred honourary doctorates to well know people such as the late poet, Professor Keorapetse Kgosietsile, former Minister Zola Skweyiya and the world-renowned musician, Hugh Masekela.