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Unisa bolsters efforts to ensure success for first-year students

To ensure students start the Unisa student walk on the right foot, the institution launched its annual preregistration workshop on 30 November 2022. This workshop, hosted at every application intake since, provides an interactive educational experience to increase students' knowledge and support their ability to make informed decisions about their studies and overall wellness. Therefore, the Directorate of Student Development discussed ensuring student health and emotional and mental wellness.


Ziyanda Febana-Mkila, Student Success Practitioner, Student Retention Unit, Rethabile Sibeko, Unisa graduate and former intern at the Student Retention Unit and Oreneile Mokwebo, first-year Unisa student

The discussion intentionally aimed to foreground Unisa's mission to ensure a holistic approach to supporting students on their academic journey to success. This was further explored in a presentation by the Directorate: Counselling and Career Development (DCCD). The directorate also works with the incoming students on time management, emphasising how building a positive mindset and prioritising our mental well-being can lead to navigating life's challenges with resilience and grace.

The Directorate: Student Applications and Registration's (DSAR) step-by-step presentation on the online registration process aimed to walk students through everything they need to know during registration, especially when choosing their modules. This crucial step is based on Unisa's approach to supporting students holistically and urging students with disabilities to disclose their disabilities during the registration process. Since this is always a tenuous step of faith, the Advocacy Resource Centre for Students with Disabilities (ARCSWiD) fought to alleviate any apprehension by presenting the extensive support available to students with disabilities at Unisa.

A casual observation of the live chat during the orientation workshop undoubtedly indicated students' anticipation for information and opportunities from the Student Finance (Student Debtors) and Student Funding departments. The most significant question was how to access financial support, which was clearly articulated in the presentations done by both divisions.

Unisa's regional centre reassured students of the support services available at nearby centres, so students do not feel alone while transitioning into Africa's largest open distance e-learning institution. This presentation was about the A to Z of the e-learning environment and platforms.

This reassurance was complimented by the Student Retention Unit and ADHOVH, who mapped out initiatives the Unit has rolled out to ensure students' success during their first-year journey and beyond. Another essential resource throughout a student's academic journey is the Unisa Library; representatives from the library presented the various ways the library can aid students in their pursuit of knowledge.

After an essential presentation from Tutorial Support Services, which ensured that students are well-equipped to participate in tutorials, the programme concluded with a presentation by the Student Communication Centre to inform students of the various ways to get in touch with Unisa, ensuring students always know that support is just a click away.

The Student Retention Unit, which directed the programme, extended heartfelt gratitude to the orientation task team members, colleges and support departments for their untiring efforts in ensuring this crucial workshop runs efficiently at every application cycle.

*The SRU will send a preregistration info pack to all students. This will include links to the individual presentations, FAQs, and much more.

*By Ziyanda Febana–Mkila, Student Success Practitioner, Student Retention Unit

Publish date: 2024/07/02

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