Academic Exclusion from South African Universities Part 3

12:30 SA VARSITY STUDENT 0 Comments

We have spoken about what academic exclusion is and how one might find themselves in that situation in part 1 of this series of posts about academic exclusion from university in South Africa, we have also discussed how one can identify when they are in danger of being excluded and possibly save themselves from being excluded in part 2. Today in part 3 we are going to talk about what one can do if they are excluded from university.

academic exclusion from south african universities - how to get readmitted after exclusion


So you have just written the end of the year exams and are awaiting the results to see if you have managed to pass all your courses or atleast passed enough courses so that you can re-register and continue with your degree the following year. Typically results come out about 3 weeks after the last exam is written (the longest 3 weeks in your life), the reason it takes so long is because the results have to be checked by external examiners and when all the verified results come back the relevant departments begin the task of identifying students who have not met the minimum credit requirements to be readmitted into university the following year. They check your full academic history to see if you have just had a bad exam period or if you have a history of performing poorly academically. Those students they feel might still do well or pass the following year but have not managed to meet the minimum requirements for the current year may be given a concession to continue their degree or given the option to change to a different degree within the faculty or in another faculty without being excluded out-right. These students may receive a letter and/or email informing them of this and may be put on academic probation for a certain time period to make sure they are passing well the following year, to see if they are taking their second chance seriously.

The students whom the relevant departments feel will not be able to pass the following year are academically excluded. Some of these students still have supplementary exams to write and their exclusion will take effect only if they do not pass the supplementary exams, those who don’t have any supplementary exams are excluded out-right. Excluded students find out their academic standing through email, sms, letters and checking their academic status online through their universities relevant websites where the results are released. Below we will discuss the options you have if you find yourself in this situation.

Step 1 – the last fight to stay at your university


Let’s say you have received the devastating news that you have been academically excluded and will not be allowed to register next year in order to continue with your studies. Your whole future is on the line, you have never thought about a future where you did not get your degree and that dream job you hoped to land after varsity. You start thinking about how disappointed your parents will be, their dreams will also be crushed, you cannot even begin to imagine how you will break the news to them. You were their pride and joy and at that moment you feel like such a disappointment. You begin to think what people from your neighbourhood and your school will think when you are back home the next year. Just a year back you were being celebrated in your school and community for your good matric results and maybe you were even interviewed by the local newspapers now you think of how embarrassing it will be to be back home and what you will tell people when they ask you “what are you doing back home?” and “why aren’t you back at university”.

This will be a very difficult time for you but before you get ahead of yourself, you still have some options to consider. Each university in South Africa has an SRC which deals with issues affecting students and academic exclusion is the one of the main issues that affects students, so every year at the end of the year the SRC’s of the respective universities help students out with appeals against academic exclusion. If you were to find yourself academically excluded and you believe you had a valid reason as to why you performed poorly academically and you believed you could solve the problems that caused your academic failure, the SRC could then help you put together a written explanation of this supported by evidence to prove your explanation. For example if you had failed because your parents died or got divorced then you would need to supply death certificates/proof of divorce and prove that their deaths/divorce coincided with your drop in academic performance and you would have to state how you would deal with this problem (e.g. you could say you were seeking help from a therapist and it’s been yielding good results etc.). Of-course you could always write the appeal yourself but its best to get as much help as you can so you can get the best advice and outcome. Additionally it would be wise to speak to a student advisor about any other options and different career paths. When you appeal you are given the option to appeal to stay in your degree or to be allowed to change to another degree. Please note that your appeal may not be successful especially if you don’t have good reasons as to why you were excluded or if you have good reasons but have no solutions to the problems that caused you to fail.

Step 2 – Think of a plan B just in case you can’t reverse the exclusion


While you’re appealing it’s good to apply to other universities that will accept you, so you have a plan in case you don’t get accepted back at your current university. Truth be told though most universities will not accept an excluded student especially for the same degree they were just excluded in especially if you disclosed you were recently in university and excluded. Universities require that you disclose that you were previously at another university yet this puts you at a disadvantage, it’s a tough place to be in. If you read part 2, you will know that we recommended that you apply to another institution e.g. UNISA while applications were still open as a safety precaution, in case you got excluded. If you try to apply to UNISA at the end of the year you will not be able to start studying in the first semester of the next year as applications will be closed by then. Applications to other major universities will also be closed by the time you receive your results and you find out your excluded so it will be harder to find a spot in another university in December especially if they know you have been excluded from your previous university. Now's also the time to think about a career change, maybe you've always wanted to do something else, something you are more passionate about. University is not the only path to a good career or to secure a good future for yourself. 

 Step 3 – Doing equivalent courses at another university (Usually UNISA)


If you do not appeal the exclusion or if your appeal is unsuccessful then you will have to think about your future and where to go from there. If you really want a career in the degree you are excluded in then you will have to study the courses at UNISA (or any other university) equivalent to the courses you failed at your university. Your university will set the standards for what marks you should get to be readmitted. You should aim for very high marks to show that you have improved academically (academically rehabilitated as academics like to call it), that’s why it’s important to apply early to UNISA so that you can register for courses in the first and second semester of the year following your exclusion and spread them out evenly so you can focus and studying properly and getting high marks. With any luck in the second semester you can reapply to your old university using your registration information at UNISA or your June course results to be considered for readmission the following year to continue your old degree or to change to another degree.

Step 4 – Getting a job


Studying at UNISA and getting good marks alone may not be enough to get you readmitted so you have to find a stable job preferably related to what you were studying and what you want to study so that it shows you are responsible and disciplined now and still managed to study and get good marks. While studying a few courses at UNISA through correspondence may be hard, it’s not as hard as the full course load you’d have in you were a full time student back at your university, so the university needs evidence that you are ready to work hard. Having a job is one of the ways of showing the university that you are hardworking and disciplined and know how to mange your time. Getting a job also has the benefit of you making some money so you can start saving for your studies when you return to your university or to pay your fees at UNISA or where-ever you’re doing the equivalent courses.

Step 5 – Write a good motivation letter


Attach a good motivation letter to your application, stating how you have changed since your exclusion, what you have learned and how it has better prepared you to succeed this time at university if you are given another chance. This letter gives you a chance for you to speak directly with those in charge of admissions and say things that could not be gathered from your results or your application form alone. The people in charge are human too and they want you to succeed, it is your job in the motivation letter to convince them that you have changed and have sorted out all your problems that hindered your academic success before and that if you are given one last chance you will take it seriously and succeed.

If you really want to continue with the same degree and are passionate about it, share that in your motivation letter. Follow the steps I mentioned above and you may be readmitted to your university, but of course you will be on probation if you are accepted back and put under a restricted course load to minimize risk of you doing too much too soon and being excluded again.


This post is the last post in our 3 part series about academic exclusion from University in South Africa. Please share this post, you may never know who is in need of such information and is too scared or embarrassed to ask. Please subscribe to this blog via email or follow us on google plus to catch future posts on other topics affecting students as soon as they are published. Happy studying!

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