Students of the University of South Africa (Unisa) are set to get a major boost ahead of the Unisa May/June 2020 examinations, courtesy of a groundbreaking partnership between Unisa and mobile telecommunications company, MTN.
The two organisations recently concluded a business agreement that will see all currently registered Unisa students receive 30GB of data per month (10GB anytime and 20GB night time) for a period of 2 months from mid-May to mid-July 2020. The full details of this agreement, including the procedure to access the offering, will be communicated to students shortly.
According to Unisa, the offer of free data to all currently registered students during this period is a necessary and timely intervention by the university to create an enabling environment for students who will be sitting for non-venue-based examinations. These examinations start on 25 May 2020 and it is vital that students have access to sufficient data and connectivity to successfully complete their examinations.
Unisa’s contribution, worth a whopping R59,72 million over a period of two months, is unique and unprecedented, with Unisa offering about 24 million gigabytes during this period to a student population of approximately 390 000.
While the free data access has been provided specifically as an intervention to facilitate the easy completion of the May/June 2020 examinations, students may use the data and connectivity during this period to conduct other academic activities such as the submission of assignments online, online contact with the university as well as preparations for the online examinations.
Unisa Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mandla Makhanya, pointed out that the Covid-19 pandemic and the attendant interventions by government and institutions alike have, amongst others, necessitated the rapid introduction of online modes of doing business across many spheres of society, including in the higher education sector. He further stressed that even though Unisa has always been an Open Distance and e-Learning (ODeL) university, the Covid-19 pandemic has compelled the university to reconsider some of its academic activities that still required physical application, such as venue-based examinations and the submission of hard copy assignments, and confine these strictly to online application.
“As a caring and responsible university, driven by strong values of Ubuntu/Botho and being fully cognisant of the dire socio-economic conditions that many of our students find themselves in, we took a considered decision that all our students must have access to data, with the university carrying the cost, so that they are enabled to write their exams and succeed in their studies. Our partnership with MTN is also ideal in this regard, not only because of the favourable rate they have given us, but most importantly because of the size of their footprint and their reach,” added Makhanya.
For MTN, the partnership with Unisa an opportune platform for them to leverage on their strength and expertise in telecommunications to enable facilitation of learning in a new digital era.
“We are proud to partner with UNISA on this important initiative. At MTN we believe in delivering the benefits of a modern connected life to all South Africans and this partnership allowed us to collaborate in the interest of enabling continuous learning for the benefit of their students at this difficult time.” says Wanda Matandela, Chief Enterprise Officer at MTN Business.