It has only been a week but there has been some significant developments since the last edition of PDBY. The announcement by the university that graduates would need to pay for their qualifications to be couriered to them came as a surprise – bearing in mind we were offered free couriering of our degrees back in March. The added confusion of vague replies or automated emails from the university exasperates our frustration and, at least personally, makes me feel unheard. No one asked for a pandemic and it isn’t anyone’s fault; but UP is undoubtedly in a better position than students to cope financially and continue its operations. Students are struggling to keep up and many cannot access the resources UP is providing to ease the troubles of online learning. And yet, despite that and other difficulties, this established and powerful institution has forced its students to pay for their own qualifications. Without a safe – or any! – option to collect our degrees, the university is forcing graduates to essentially buy something we are entitled to. As a recent graduate and post-graduate student, I am currently applying to scholarships and further post-graduate programs – of which all the applications require your degree certificate and academic transcript – and in a financially difficult period I am expected to pay more than R200 to obtain my own qualification. Which was promised to me for free by the university.
PDBY has been, and is, the body that serves to hold the university accountable and so we have asked for an explanation. You can read the answers we received on page 5. Personally, I am disappointed. No real answers are given and I am not impressed by the attempts to dodge accountability with incorrect math and ignored receipts. UP,you are in the position of power, and you owe your students answers. Unexpected financial costs? That doesn’t completely add up to me, when you are still requiring every student to pay 100% of their fees. The least we are owed is the truth, provided in a straight forward way.
UP also owes its international students more. If I find it difficult to study from home in Gauteng, I can only imagine how difficult it is to maintain your academic career from another country altogether. What has UP done to assist international students? How is the university ensuring that no student is left behind, including international students?
Everyone understands that we need to make sacrifices during the pandemic, and concede to a difficult learning experience. But there has to be a line where UP steps in and does their part to assist students. Too many students are being directly disadvantaged by the university’s less than adequate accountability for their lack of action. Not only are we being made to pay for our certificates, and students are being overlooked without certain resources, but the university also fails to provide enough information. I know the university is unsure – who isn’t right now? – but complete silence isn’t reassuring. UP needs to be more transparent and open, and tell us, the students, what is happening. Where are the action plans? Where are the proposed teaching plans? Why are these deliberations and decisions not widely shared to all students? We deserve to know what the university’s plans are and how the different plans of action they are considering would affect us. Classes start today and a lot of students have no idea what they face in the new semester. It’s time to be accountable UP, and answer to your students.
Relevant Reads: Letter to the Editor