The UNISA Ombudsman answered some questions on the MyUnisa site, here it is:
But before that, i just want to note that i did mention to a few irate readers who responded to my article regarding the Carte blanche programme, that in fact they had no reason to be upset or irate. My reasoning for this, is that they had not yet exhausted the internal remedies available to them and thereafter approached the Ombudsman.
Here in his own words the boss of the Ombudsman adds some weight to my submission in the carte blache article, that in fact most problems can be solved by using the correct procedures GIVEN to you by unisa, if they do not work….Ombudsman.
Here is my response to a reader who had something negative to say >>
“hilda · August 27, 2013 – 4:26 pm · Edit · Reply→
yes I hear all u guys r sayong bt wt abt me I went personal to unisa and applied for my script to be emailed which the exam room did in 2 days then emailed the script to my lectures both of them but no reply till this day.so what do I say in a case like this cause I don’t think the marks I got was right even if I can get a suplementry it will be a consolation for me.the only dept. that works at unisa is the finance dept.the rest is a joke.Guys you must remember some of us its hard financially to repeat for other peoples mistakes or ignorance.
thelawguysa · August 28, 2013 – 8:02 am · Edit · Reply→
i am not financially well of either. if you still cannot get answers and have used the available procedures for help, but didnt get any help, then you must approach the ombudsman. Please remember the ombudsman will only help those who have exhausted all availlable procedures. supply the ombudsman with the relevant data and emails concerning your problem, they are quite effective.”
here is the unisa article:
“Unisa committed to accountability
To paraphrase the Ghostbusters theme song, “if there’s something strange in you assignment paper, who you gonna call?” Before June 2012, many students would have contacted Unisa directly to query issues with their assignments and examination papers. However, that was prior to the university setting up the Office of the Ombudsman to deal with critical issues impacting on students and even staff. With the office just over a year old, myUnisa News spoke to Professor Harry Nengwekhulu about his role thus far and what kind of impact his office has made at Unisa.
How many cases have been dealt with by the ombudsman’s office since July?
On average we receive around 50 complaints per day. Our procedure is that an individual can lodge a complaint over the phone, but we then require a formal complaint in writing. There are two types of resolution that we deal with: the first is when we submit a report to the Vice-Chancellor (VC) who makes a recommendation. However, the majority of the cases are dealt with without involving the VC. We’ve resolved around 400 cases and have had an almost perfect success rate. I believe this is because we are dealing with complaints that are backed by facts.
Some believe that you are an employee of Unisa and will therefore place the university’s interests above those of its students. Is that the case?
Some people think that the ombudsman works for the university. I’m not an employee of Unisa and I don’t work for or against Unisa. My decisions are based on the facts before me. If the student is right, I will defend that right, and if the student is wrong, I’ll rule that the university did not act unfairly. Initially, people questioned whether I was loyal to Unisa. I responded by saying that I am loyal to facts.
Do you believe that the issues recently highlighted on the current affairs programme Carte Blanche could have been resolved by your office?
Almost all of the issues raised by the students on the programme could have been resolved by this office. It should, however, also be noted that in many instances such problems do not even need to reach my office, they can be dealt with at college level. I would like to urge students to make use of the structures that the university has put in place to deal with complaints.
What should students be aware of regarding issues relating to plagiarism?
The obligation rests on the lecturer to indicate that a student has committed plagiarism and also to specify which source or sources have been plagiarised. You can’t penalise a student on the basis of mere suspicion. Lecturers must allow students the opportunity to defend themselves after formally notifying them that they are suspected of plagiarism.
Can you explain the process which students need to follow to submit grievances to the ombudsman?
They can complete a form on our web page (from the Unisa home page at http://www.unisa.ac.za go to About => Legislation => Ombudsman) in which they can state their case. They can call us on (012) 481 2874 in case of an emergency or to follow up on a complaint. If my personal assistant is not available, Unisa’s ICT section will pick up the calls. Students can also fax complaints to (012) 481 2838 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For physical deliveries there’s a secure drop box outside my office. Normal postage and couriering are further options – our address appears on the web page referred to above.
Do you think your office has enhanced service delivery at Unisa?
This office was established in response to the need for improved service delivery. Although challenges remain I believe that we have gone a long way towards eliminating the obstacles that hinder sound service delivery. We give effect to students’ right to complain, and I am very proud of the fact that Unisa is probably the only South African university that has such an office.”