By Luis Monzon for IT News Africa

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.s.

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.

PEP has launched a new offering called Paxi (Parcel Taxi) which allows consumers, agents, suppliers and institutions to send, collect and return parcels to over 2 000 PEP store PAXI collection points.

PEP has a large footprint in South Africa, with stores in most malls and small towns throughout the country.

The parcel service is available from just R49.95. This is a more competitive price than many couriers, including the South African Post Office’s Speed Service offering.

Consumers can send gifts, gifts, products and documents from any PEP to any other PEP in South Africa. The recipient can collect the parcel provided they have adequate identification and the OTP they received via SMS, notifying them of the parcel’s arrival.

The South African Post Office has been beleaguered by strikes, poor customer service, missing, stolen and/or late parcels and mail, and a Web site which is constantly down.

Paxi is targeting PEP customers, providing a relatively cheap and reliable service, complete with insurance and track-and-trace.

In addition, Paxi is offering to send UNISA assignments for free, provided they are sent two weeks before the due date.

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