No room for hundreds of applicants for Wits Enterprise business course

An email meant for 50 recipients was leaked on social media resulting in over 1000 applications for a short-term certificate course.   

WITS ENTERPRISE has been inundated with applicants after a privately sent communique went viral on social media on the weekend of February1-3, and resulted in over 1000 applications for the less than 100 available spots.

The course being offered on the email is a fully funded programme in Business Management which is a three-month certificate course. The email was sent to around 50 students associated with the organisation, but was leaked on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook and gathered huge attention over the weekend.

The organisation has been flooded with applications since the release of the email and warns that many will be left disappointed. Business development and short course manager Melissa Moodley said that the programme could only accept around 100 students although they had now received over 1000 inquiries.

Moodley told Wits Vuvuzela that although the confusion has backlogged the organisation it had opened a window of opportunity. She says that the bulk of applicants were parents interested in the course for their children.

“We are getting a lot of calls from parents who are concerned about their kids sitting at home. So for us there’s this whole group of students that we’ve been missing out on and now they’re coming to us.

“The communique was intended for a very, very specific group of kids. So what happened was that it was shared outside of the group and seeing what happens with things going viral, we have had a number of the public looking to get involved,” she added. 

The programme aims to prepare unemployed youth between the ages 18 to 35 looking to go into the workplace and assist them in navigating their way through the business landscape.

The staff of nine at the Wits Enterprise offices was busy fielding phone calls all Monday morning as interested parties inquired about the programme.

Klaas Mokgomole, a former Wits student and current netball coach, sought the opportunity to assist one of his netball players, Nolwazi Dube.

“A friend sent it over WhatsApp and I immediately thought of [Nolwazi]. She has been looking for a school and hasn’t had any luck yet. I don’t want her to sit around all year so this will keep her busy.”

Dube, who matriculated last year from Barnato Park High School, is looking to go into sports management but sees this as an opportunity to study irrespective of the field.

“I want to learn more and be knowledgeable. I want to get a job and I can only do that if I study,” the 18-year-old said.

Wits Enterprise will only allow a limited number of students to register for the course from 10am to 12pm on Wednesday, February 6.

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits Enterprise warns that limited availability will likely mean thousands will be rejected for fully funded programme Photo: Tshego Mokgabudi

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Accounting Science students up in arms about ‘unfair’ exam

Students say that they were set up to fail auditing supplementary exam.

A group of over 50 third-year BAccSci students who failed their supplementary auditing exam fear that they will not be able to secure funding and register for the upcoming academic year.

In a meeting organised by the students with the Head of School of Accountancy, Professor Nirupa Padia, on Wednesday, January 23, the students claimed that the ACCN3015 paper which they wrote on November 27, 2018, was “identical” to that written by the fourth-year class during the same period and that is the reason for their failure.

Padia told the students that she would consider their complaints and try and come up with a solution before their next meeting, scheduled for Thursday, January 31. The students have also written to the Vice-Chancellor’s office and the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Sifiso Mduli, who was repeating third year, fears that he will lose his bursary if these grievances are not resolved soon. The students are demanding a review of their exam or possibly even a second sitting because they say these results cast a doubt on their future at the university.

“I’ve communicated with my bursar but it’s difficult to explain. They’ll believe that I am incompetent especially because of last year. So it seems like I might be forced to fund myself if I want to continue studying.

The students also alleged at the meeting with Padia that some of their classmates had been allowed to view their scripts and review their marks while others were not permitted. Those who had viewed their scripts were said to have subsequently passed.

The situation has gained national attention with the issue being discussed on SAfm early last week. The requirements of the course were highlighted in the radio discussion with Professor Jason Cohen, the deputy dean of the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management. The requirements are that third-year students have to pass all four of their subjects (management accounting and finance, taxation, auditing and financial accounting) to progress to fourth year.

“This is not a qualification requirement to receive the Bachelors of Accounting Science degree, it is an entry requirement into the fourth year or, so-called CTA year,” Cohen said. “So a number of students managed to pass through by obtaining credits in a more piecemeal manner. It is only in trying to access that fourth year that we require those students to pass through.”

Cohen argued on air that, despite these demands, most students had performed reasonably well, saying that nearly three quarters of the student body had passed three of the four courses, while auditing had a pass rate of 60%.

“I understand the frustrations of the students who were not able to succeed this time around but nearly 500 students passed that particular course being referred to,” Cohen added.

Third-year BAccSci student, Rudelle Pillay, said that she had been left with very few options and hoped the situation would be resolved before the academic year began.

“I feel that they have been inconsistent; there’s no transparency in this course. We have been talking to them for weeks so this could get resolved sooner rather than later.

“I’ve had to convert to a BCom because I wanted to register. My parents cannot afford to pay for those four subjects again, considering that I still owe money,” Pillay added.

FEATURED IMAGE: The School of Accountancy is wrapped in controversity as students claim to have disadvantaged in supp exam Photo: Tshego Mokgabudi

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Strike looms as Wits workers reject 6.5% salary increase

Union members have said that they are willing to strike if negotiations with Wits management continue to stall.

Workers have threatened to strike less than two weeks before the academic year is set to begin, following stalled negotiations for salary increases and improved working conditions.

At a joint union members meeting on Tuesday, January 22, at the Great Hall, workers were up in arms after discovering that the concessions made with Wits management were far below their expectations.

In attendance were academics, administrative staff and supporting staffs from the various unions, mainly Academic Staff Association of Wits University (Asawu), the Admin Library and Technical Staff Association, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the National Health, Education and Allied Workers Union.

The unions had met with management earlier in the day to discuss the demands of the workers but the negotiations remained deadlocked following a year of discussions between the concerned parties.

Workers were demanding a 9% increase across the board, but the University’s offer was 6.5% to 7% across different payment grades, according to Asawu president Anthony Stacey.

A professor at the Wits Business School, Stacey told Wits Vuvuzela that the concessions made by the university, which included the granting of 20 days paid leave for staff and a minimised taxation rate on staff’s 13th cheque, were not enough to satisfy the unions.

“We’ve got agreements on a few things. We’ve worked very hard in the last two months to get a working relationship.

“I’m afraid the last few days I’m less optimistic though. Now we’re starting to talk hard numbers, hard details and the collaboration from management doesn’t seem to be coming through,” Stacey said.

Several proposals have been made by both the labour unions and representatives of the University’s management in regards to 2019 salary increases, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment. 

“The parties continue to negotiate in good faith with a view towards reaching amicable resolutions on the outstanding issues. As a result of the ongoing negotiations, salary adjustments for January 2019 will not be implemented, except for employees on Grades 16 and 17 where an agreement was reached in 2018,” read a joint statement released by the Bargaining Forum on Wednesday, January 23.

Altsa president Ricardo Sao Joao says that a strike could happen if there is no agreement with management.

“At this point in time, I would say a strike is very likely based on the mandate we just received. I think that the general consensus is that staff are tired in many ways of being misused and abused and, ultimately, want to share in the wealth of the university,” he told Wits Vuvuzela.

Stacey, who is one of the union negotiators, was sceptical about the progress of the negotiations thus far and affirmed that the workers would be united if the call to strike was made by the majority.

“We are happy about the fact that we got agreement on a few of the issues but they are very minor. They are not substantive. I think there’s a wide variety of opinions amongst the union membership. So I think our job as leadership is to see how much progress we can make. However, if it needs to go to a power struggle, we’ll have to lead them.”

Other worker demands include bursaries for staff to study, increased night shift allowances, a R1200 housing subsidy and medical aid support. Negotiations continue.


FEATURED IMAGE:
 Union members congregate outside Great Hall to discuss progress of salary negotiations Photo: Tshego Mokgabudi

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SRC ‘dumped’ at doorstep of Braam hotel

The PYA has some very strong words for the Student Governance Office after SRC members were moved to the Once in Joburg hostel in Braamfontein.

The Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) has declared the Student Governance Office (SGO) an “enemy of the student revolution on campus” following what it claims was the forced removal of members of the Student Representative Council (SRC) from university accommodation on Sunday, January 20.

In a statement released on Twitter, the PYA, which won 12 of the 13 seats in the SRC election last year, condemned what it called just “one of the many ills” committed by the Student Governance Office against the SRC after members of the student body were moved from Medhurst Hall of Residence and Highfield Cluster in Parktown to the Once in Joburg hostel in Braamfontein rather than a different university residence.

SRC treasurer general Keneuwe Fetai told Wits Vuvuzela that they were informed that they would be removed from these university residences on Saturday, January 19, but were under the impression that the SGO would find them accommodation on campus for Orientation Week.

“Because some residence students would be returning this week, we were told that we’d be moved. But Student Governance claims no one on campus wanted to accommodate us. So we were moved to the Once in Joburg hotel in Braamfontein. They told us we were there by circumstance.

“We want to move out as soon as possible. It is putting us in a bad light. We are supposed to help students with their accommodation plight but we are here in a hotel. How does that look?”

Manager of the SGO, Jabu Mashinini, denied claims that SRC members were forcibly removed from university residences.

“The SRC was not kicked out of the vacation accommodation/residence, but had to vacate to allow the residence personnel to
prepare for the first years and returning students.”

Fetai, a fourth-year BEd student, told Wits Vuvuzela that around 30 members of the SRC members and sub-committees were housed at the Braamfontein hostel but fear that they will be removed soon and will have nowhere to stay. She says that they are disappointed at the lack of assistance from the university.

“If the university supported us they would fight for us. It doesn’t make sense, we are the SRC and we are staying at a hotel.”

Chairperson of the South African Student Congress branch at Wits, Mpendulo Mfeka, said that the removal of the SRC was “counterproductive” as the body needed to be in close proximity to students on campus. He said that the PYA’s statement reflected the souring relationship between the SRC and the SGO.  

“It is very reckless from Student Governance. They are not doing as much as they are supposed to do for the student body. Student Governance is supposed to assist the SRC so they can continue with their operations. But, according to Governance, no one wants anything to do with the SRC.”

Mashinini has replied to the statement released by the PYA, saying “The PYA is entitled to its opinion, Student Governance has an amiable and professional relationship with the SRC and does not make decisions unilaterally without consulting the SRC.”

Orientation Week is scheduled to begin in a few days, on Monday, January 28.

FEATURED IMAGE: The Once in Joburg hostel in Braamfontein is currently home to SRC members who were “forcibly” moved from university residences at the weekend. Photo: Tshego Mokgabudi

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