Lessons Learned During the 2020 UNISA Application Period

From 20 August to 27 September, the 2020 UNISA application window was open for under- and postgraduate qualifications. This provided students all over the country and abroad the chance to apply and study for a UNISA qualification in 2020. 

Now that the 2020 UNISA application window has closed, it’s time to reflect on the positives and negatives when it came to this particular UNISA application window:

Downtime on the UNISA Website

When the 2020 UNISA application window opened on 20 August, many people naturally flocked immediately onto the UNISA website. Applicants were, unfortunately, met by the website’s Maintenance screen. 

Students looking to apply were occasionally met by the UNISA Maintenance screen. Source: UNISA Homepage
Students looking to apply were occasionally met by the UNISA Maintenance screen. Source: UNISA Homepage

This left many frustrated, having to wait a bit longer to complete their applications. The unavailibility of the website was at many times due to a high volume of people crawling onto UNISA’s website at the same time.

View website traffic the same as similar to regular traffic you find on the roads. At off-peak hours, the roads are a dream. When it comes to peak hour traffic, it can be a bit of a slog. 

While this may have frustrated students, it was not a complete setback. Delays were short-lived and thus enabling students to continue their UNISA application.

Lack of Preparation

It’s a dream of many to study further after completing school. However, not everyone knows what it is that they want to do immediately. This factor, unfortunately, caused many an issue, with students coming to the table unprepared.

Many who wanted to apply did not know what it is they had to do. Things like the type of documents to the actual courses – there were multiple different factors. All of this points in the direction of a lack of preparation and proper research (among other things) done by students.

Well-documented application issues included:

  • Applicants not knowing what qualification it is that they want to study;
  • Applying for qualifications that they have zero interest in, only because it “looks easy”;
  • Not doing any research on where to find the relevant information. Remember – Google is your friend;
  • Rushing through an application without knowing whether you’ve made the right decision.

Naturally, there were people who knew what to expect when it came to applying. This refers to those who have been through the application process before as either a returning student or a student who didn’t make it the first time around.

Poor Decision Making

A recurring theme among applicants during the application period was their qualification choices. Mentioned before in the point above, students applied for qualifications that they deemed “easy”. This might be hard for some to hear but if you want to do things the easy way, then why are you studying?

Additionally, there were many cases of students adding a second choice that they have no interest in whatsoever. Unfortunately, this kind of decision making came to bite those on the behind. A lot of applicants were bemoaning the fact that they had their second choice approved instead of their first.

This only proved that incorrect decisions were made and it will continue unless people educate themselves on things like this. Have they learned their lesson? Only time will tell.

People Providing Unity (and False Hope)

People won’t know everything the first time around – that’s a given. That’s why people seek assistance from others. From UNISA’s student advisors at one of the many UNISA campuses around the country to regular people, there are various options available to students who seek help. 

There were many who assisted students throughout the application window without expecting anything in return. At the same time, there were others who had ulterior motives. We’re not referring to people who charged others for their help (and actually helped).

Despite what others may say, it’s a risky move to ask someone to apply on your behalf. Unless you know and actually trust the person that you seek help from, it’s a huge risk, don’t you think?

Response Time on Application Feedback

This one’s a bit tricky to decipher. On one hand, there are students who applied and received feedback within a week. On the other hand, there are students who applied early and have not received feedback on their applications.

UNISA has stated that feedback can take up to 6 to 8 weeks, so at the time of writing, it’s still within the specified timeframe. Patience is key at this stage of the application process (although it’s understandable to feel frustrated if you haven’t heard anything at this point).

Lack of Communication

It’s a known fact that the response time to get feedback from UNISA regarding anything is a bit of a slog. Sometimes there’s such a long waiting time that once you’ve received feedback, it comes as a bit of a surprise.

This especially annoyed students who didn’t have the means to travel to their nearest UNISA campus to apply. Some would describe it as applying for a job you don’t remember applying to. You send your CV out to 100s of positions and when you finally receive feedback, your immediate response is, “Who’s this?”

All in all, it seemed like it was a smooth application window for both the university and the applicants. There has been a quicker response time all round for some who applied, receiving feedback just over a week after applying.

Additionally, with the window closed, this leaves a large enough gap between the end of the application period and the beginning of the UNISA registration period (3 January 2020).

Update: UNISA announced on 01 November 2019 that they’ve altered their application window, making it an open and continuous application process.

Also Read: The Do’s and Don’ts of Applying to UNISA

Last Updated: 03 April 2022

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3 thoughts on “Lessons Learned During the 2020 UNISA Application Period”

  1. My friend Deneo has applied for BA in forensic science and she meets all the requirements and she has more than 7 years expiriance within SAPS . she received a message thAt her application was not successful. That is so unfair and discouraging. Will you please explain why you rejected her application?

    1. We are not UNISA, so we did not reject her. Your friend will have to head to her nearest UNISA campus and enquire about her application via a student advisor or student administrator.

  2. Good day Dylan, I hope you’re well.. I’d like to enquire on the application process particularly for the 2nd semester of 2020, I want to apply for a higher certificate / undergraduate for law for the 2nd semester however I went on unisa’s website and it says the application window for that option is closed, I’d appreciate it if you could shed some light on this matter, am I gonna need to wait till end of April or possibly May to see if it will change? With this Corona virus situation I wanted to take a more proactive approach by applying early for 2nd semester, would hate to have to wait till 1st semester 2021..please help!

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