Academic Exclusion from University in South Africa part 2

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In part 1 about academic exclusion from South African universities we discussed what academic exclusion is, how and why a student can be excluded from university. Today we are going to discuss how one can see when they are in danger of being excluded, what they can do to prevent exclusion and how to prepare for the future in case they get excluded.

academic from south african universities part ii

How to see that you are in danger of being excluded?

At the beginning of the year after registration or even before registration you should read your faculty handbook provided by your faculty. E.g. you are a first year commerce student registered for 8 courses that year and you are going to do 4 courses per semester. You will read in your faculty handbook that you need to pass at least 4 out of those 8 courses for you to be permitted to reregister the following year. Please note that requirements for reregistration may be different for your specific course or for your university so check the faculty handbook provided by your university and check section relevant to your degree/diploma. Now let’s say you have been missing tuts and you did not pass your first few tests, this does not mean you are in danger of exclusion yet, but you will be in danger of exclusion if you fail to get DP for more than 1 subject because you did badly in all your class tests and you were not attending tuts (meaning you are not allowed to write the exam). Not getting DP is bad because you have already paid the full amount for the course and yet you won’t even get to write the exam and you will have to repeat the course the next semester or the following year depending on when that course is available at your school.

Some courses in 1st semester are prerequisites for second semester courses meaning if you fail that course in 1st semester then you cannot do the course in second semester which requires a pass or DP in the 1st semester course. So if you fail a 1st semester course which is a prerequisite for a 2nd semester course you are in trouble more so if that 1st semester course is only available in the 1st semester of each year. Besides risk of getting excluded, failing such courses adds a year to your degree. Sometimes you can do some courses in the winter and summer terms (during vacation) so that you don’t have to do it during term time and to avoid adding a year to your degree). It’s good to find out all this information from your university. As I was saying if you were to fail 2 out of the 4 courses in the 1st semester, you are already at risk of exclusion and the university may send you a notification mid-year telling you that you are at risk and offer you help from an academic advisor. 

If you are not notified, you should probably go talk to an academic advisor about your academics and the problems you have been having to figure out a way forward. At this point, if there is an extended programme you may be advised to sign up for that, or you may be even advised to change degrees and study something you are more suited to or more passionate about. Most students will not take these options because of pride and they may think they can still pass the remaining courses and even add a few electives to make sure that they get enough credits not to get excluded but sometimes that doesn’t help because it increases the workload for an already struggling student and this may eventually lead to the student getting excluded. The wiser option would be to do the remaining 4 courses (you would maybe be repeating a couple courses included in these 4 courses), start taking school seriously, attending lectures and studying hard and asking for help when you do not understand the concepts. It’s hard to just suddenly become focussed but that’s what you would need to do in an ideal world so that you end up passing maybe 6 out of the 8 courses you were supposed to do in first year and you would not get excluded. The failure in the first semester in an ideal world would serve as a wakeup call. The first scenario I described is what usually happens.

How you can start changing things once you realise you are in danger of being excluded

We are going to share some of the things that students usually do to stay in school or to improve their performance, some of these things I would not advise but it’s what students do and it’s kept them at school.

- Start attending all your lectures, pay attention and take notes and try to at least be a decent student like in high school as if they keep a register of attendance in lectures. If for some reason you can’t make a tutorial and you do not have a medical note ask a friend who is in the tut with you to sign for you if that’s possible.

- Ask questions during lectures if you don’t understand and consult with your lecturer after class if there are concepts you are not understanding.

- Try to attend all your tutorials and make sure you do your tuts and ask tutors questions about things you still don’t understand.

- Get past test papers and past exam papers so you know what you are expected to know for your tests and exams, use them as a guide on what to study. Lecturers usually say don’t focus too much on past papers but we have noticed that if you look at the past four or 5 years of past papers for a course the test or exam papers will be a combination of the type of questions that have come out in those past papers and we’ve found them to be the best way to study compared to blindly reading said textbooks. You are better served doing past examples then reading hundreds of pages when you don’t have time to spare.

- Form study groups with other people in your class and ask for help from those who seem to be understanding the coursework.

 Now we are going to share some of the other things that students do if they think they might get excluded to help them stay in university. I would not advise this but desperate times call for desperate measures.

- One of the best ways to avoid exclusion is to get a high class record, the higher your class record the less you to get in your exam to pass the course. So if there are two tests for a course before the exam, some students study very hard for the first 1 and get a very high mark and then they don’t write the 2nd class test and they somehow get a medical note to say they were unable to write the second class test. This way the students 1 test is used as their class record. For some courses if you miss a test for a “valid” reason you are required to write a make-up test at a later stage so if a student “med-noted “class test 2 they are still at an advantage because they have had more time to study for the test than the other student but beware that the make-up test may be harder. Also if you med-noted a class test it is in your best interest to study the content tested in that test as it will make things easier for you when the exam comes. You don’t want to fail the exam because you had too much too study, it’s easier to study for the exam if you have studied those sections before in lectures, tuts and in test preparation.

- Another thing that students do if they fear that they will be excluded or that they won’t get DP is they start talking to someone (an advisor or psychologist provided by the university) about their academic and personal problems and anything else that they feel is affecting their school work. This serves as proof that they were having problems during term time as its put on record, it also serves as proof that they were trying to seek help to solve their problems. So that when said student does not get DP they can go beg the course convenor to let them write the exam even though they did not get DP (some people actually manage to pass courses when their class record was super low because exam mark usually counts more than class record). This method can also be used as proof when a student is excluded and they are appealing to the readmission committee to be readmitted into the university for the same or a different course.

Preparing for the future if you fear being excluded

Another thing one can do if they fear that they might be excluded at the end of the year is to register for a different degree in the 2nd semester and start doing courses that count for that degree in the 2nd semester. You would need to contact that faculty you wish to move to, in order to find out the procedure. Sometimes people don’t know what they want to study or they think they wanted to study something but find out they don’t like it and end up doing badly in the course so students have a chance to transfer to course they would actually love to do before they get excluded because once you get excluded everything will become more difficult to do (transferring to a different faculty or university).

And lastly if you think you will get excluded start applying to UNISA or any other university that will take you, that offers courses equivalent to those offered at your university. You must apply early in the 2nd semester before the closing dates at UNISA so that you can start studying and doing the failed courses there from 1st semester of the following year if you are excluded from current university. It would be a nightmare if you get excluded and have nowhere to go study or work and no plan of a comeback after you are excluded. So it’s good to plan ahead and have alternative plans to secure a good future for yourself.

Thank you for reading part two about exclusion from South African universities, sign up to get updates via email and add us on google plus to get the latest posts. We will be posting part 3 soon which will be talking about what to do if you are excluded.


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