It’s no secret that the University of South Africa (Unisa) has an appalling track record when it comes to various aspects of student life with communication, application, registration, funding and more being sore spots for past and current pupils. Aiming to change this is the new Dean of Students doctor Olwethu Sipuka who is inviting students to DM him directly.
In an announcement titled “Feel free to DM me regarding poor service” posted on the Unisa website, Sipuka makes some encouraging remarks about how he and his office will be operating.
“My office is the students’ first and last hope. I am here to provide the necessary advocacy, but also to make sure that our students are provided the service that they pay for. We, as a university, cannot have cases of lecturers not responding to students’ emails and queries. It is simply not right,” the dean states.
For those who have not interfaced with Unisa before the non-answering of student queries both by email and by phone has been a plague on the institution for years leaving so many students feeling helpless as their questions are left unanswered. This is such a problem that we broached it with Unisa Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mandla Makhanya in an interview last year.
While several attempts have been made to fix this problem, such as longer operating hours at the Unisa contact centre, it’s a problem that persists.
Doctor Olwethu Sipuka can be reached via direct message on Twitter on his account @osipuka. True to his word, at the time of writing, his DMs are indeed open for anyone to send a message.
Interestingly, the dean’s PhD was actually based on student support services in an “open, distance and eLearning (ODeL) institution”, which Unisa falls into. In the announcement of his policies it’s also pointed out that Sipuka was a student leader of some sorts. These factors have us hopeful that that there’s someone who understands the struggles of students at a high level, something the dean mirrors:
“You have a friend in the Office of the Dean. I have gone through the injustice of the higher education system and I present myself as a dean who is people and service centred. I am therefore prepared to walk the extra mile and not leave anybody behind,” Sipuka writes.