Can you imagine tuning in to your community radio station and hearing important information and news from Unisa? Students in the Cape region could not believe their ears when they tuned in to their favourite community radio stations and there it was – Unisa in their homes.
In an effort to get closer to students in the College of Economic and Management Sciences (CEMS), the college started Unisa Talk in August to address issues and concerns students have.
When Radio Tygerberg, one of the largest community radio stations in South Africa (with some 330 000 daily listeners), won the Best Community Radio Station Award in May 2012, talks started on the possibility of working with a number of community radio stations to communicate with CEMS students. As community radio stations are normally Article 21 companies (which means they belong to the community), they provide an excellent platform to reach specific communities.
As a result, students in the western and southern Cape could, from August, tune in to four community radio stations (that cover approximately ninety percent of the region). The schedule for UnisaTalk is posted on the Unisa Western Cape web page and students receive weekly SMS messages to tell them about the content of the week’s programme as well as the subject of that night’s broadcast.
Initially the response was slow, but as students got over the first surprise, the response picked up. They are beginning to give positive feedback, says Ilze Crous, Communication and Marketing Specialist for CEMS.
“The time for the broadcasts during the pilot stage was eight o’ clock on a Monday night, but they have asked us to move it to nine o’clock as that is when Unisa time starts,” says Crous. “We have taken this into account and in the next round, the programme will be broadcast in a new time slot.”
Issues such as study skills, preparation for examinations, where to start when one wants to do a master’s or doctoral degree and information about the phasing in and out of qualifications in CEMS are discussed in the broadcasts, which are closely co-ordinated with service departments and the regions.
Students can interact with these programmes by sending their questions and concerns by SMS to a cellphone number, posting them on the Facebook wall of the Cape region or by sending an e-mail to either the radio station or Unisa.
In the coming months students in the Cape region can look forward to hearing from other well-known Unisa students and how they manage to balance work, home and a social life with their studies.
“We want to bring Unisa closer to every student and create a virtual campus. This is not only for students in the larger metropolitan areas who are close to the regional centres, but also for those in rural areas who may sometimes feel isolated. We are currently looking at the possibility of expanding these broadcasts on community radio stations in other regions and to also include the other colleges and regions in the broadcasts,” says Crous.
*Written by Ilze Crous