The University of South Africa (Unisa) has been forced to postpone several exams after technical issues interrupted last week’s set of online exams.
Affected modules whose exams have been postponed include those studied by criminology students, as well as those in development studies.
Sipho Xukwe, a third-year criminology student told City Press on Friday that he wasn’t able to submit his exam answers during online writing sessions this week because the system was “clogged due to the high volume of exam scripts and question papers.”
Xukwe continues says that while trying to answer questions, “A message popped up saying [the system] cannot hold the number of students trying to submit at one time and others trying to download the exam question paper.”
He says that the most pertinent issue for students is that the university lacked a plan B for students who were not able to submit due to system failures or faults. He says that students who failed to submit because of system issues would have another opportunity to write in October/November later this year. No doubt dreadful news to anyone who has ever had to study for a university-level examination.
The other concern with the shifting of exam dates is that they coincide with the dates of exams of other modules.
“Our concern is how students are going to be able to write five modules for this semester and five modules of the coming semester?” Xukwe says.
He continues to say that the university is fully aware that students won’t be able to write all 10 modules in a single semester. There are already some students that have had to choose between modules to be able to write during the current semester because of coinciding exam dates and times.
City Press writes that students were informed of the exam postponements via SMSs from the institution. In a statement, Unisa said that rescheduling modules to later dates, dates which still fall under the current examination period, is essential to maintaining and improving the system’s performance.
ICT Assistance to students
The university says that a number of their students had been assisted when taking and to achieve access to their exams as well as uploading their written scripts.
“Both academics, and the information and communication technology (ICT) team were on standby to support the students so that they could download, write and upload their answers.”
In many modules, Unisa says, students managed well with the exams and didn’t have problems. Academic staff members also assisted the students with extending exam submission times.
The students that were not able to submit their examinations will be provided with other opportunities, such as special examinations, amongst other methods – all of which will be communicated with students at another date, says the university.