The University of South Africa

Greetings all from a long-time lurker.

I am seriously considering registering with the University of South Africa to do a second master’s degree. The main reasons for this:

  1. Can be done entirely by distance
  2. Accredited and respectable
  3. Cheap.

I was wondering if there were any UNISA dopers out there and if you could provide any reflections on your experience with UNISA. I’d appreciate any information you have.

Thanks in advance.

This won’t be of much help, but I too considered UNISA for a doctorate some years ago. The main reason I never pursued it, other than the fact that they didn’t offer precisely the degree I wanted, was that their admissions system was so byzantine and confusing, at least for me. Perhaps it’s been somewhat streamlined in the past few years. Anyway, I would also be interested in others’ responses.

I started a thread on this about a year ago, but I can’t find it using the search engine.

I have not yet officially registered with UNISA, but I have been working with them on putting together a doctoral thesis proposal. I have found the faculty and librarians to be very helpful, although not always quick to respond.

I too look forward to hearing from others.

The whole registration process is what is slowing me down. I guess byzantine is a good word for it.

aaslatten, are you able to work with them via email or are you doing it by phone?

I have been corresponding with my advisor via email.

I have heard the same things about registration being cumbersome, but I haven’t officially registered yet. This is one good thing about UNISA; they encourage you to put off registering until you’ve got a good proposal in hand.

I’ve done some undergrad work with UNISA - but then, I’m South African!
Registration is a bit involved, but staff are generally friendly and helpful. They have some good academics, but one caveat:
the administration has been accused of some corruption. All very African, don’tcha know.
Still, I don’t think internal university politics would affect you, so I’d say go for it.

Thanks for replying, MrDribble.

I was wondering how the whole method of distance learning works with them. I have the calendar, but it gives no information about the mechanics behind the process. At the master’s level, what are they going to send me? Reading lists of books I have to find on my own? Lecture tapes? Any light you could shed would be appreciated.

All in all, it looks like a good deal. I can get another degree without leaving my present position plus shave some time off of an eventual terminal degree. I’d just like to have some idea of what to expect before I sign off on everything.

Well, with undergrad, they’d post assignments and you’d post the completed ones back. Then sit exams at the end of the year (foreigners do this at an embassy/consulate AFAIK). I imagine for postgrad like Masters it might be a bit different - most South African Masters Degrees are not coursed-based, but by dissertation, so I imagine a large part of it would be discussion with your supervisors, sending chapters back and forth etc.
If it is course-based, or partially so, there’s be assignments and mini-theses to write, possibly with time limits but not neccesarily. There’ll be a reading list at the start, and I know they work out access with SA University libraries in other cities, so possibly something like that may be arranged for you too.

I understand that for postgrad, there’s now also a substantial amount of online consultation and workgroups - dedicated mailing lists, and discussion groups of your fellow students and the supervisors. A chance to talk about research and such

You didn’t say what you’d do the Masters in, though, so it’s harder to be sure. I know a friend is doing some postgrad work (diploma, I think), but it was all assignments and then she just sat exams recently.

The Master’s is in Theology, which can either be dissertation only or dissertation + course work.

Thanks for the reply. Actually I’ve been unable to get any questions answered from them directly. I sent off an email but got one back “register first,” so to some extent this is a shot in the dark.

I don’t know anything about the U of SA, but this web site is by someone who has spent a career studying distance/non-traditional education. There might be something helpful here, or another school to think about.