News for and about students in South Africa.

Google funds app matching learners with universities based on marks

Gradesmatch was created to solve the problem of poor career guidance across Africa. Using the app, learners simply enter in the subjects they’re taking and marks received. The app then automatically matches them with suitable tertiary institutions and qualifications. The start up has won this years Google Impact Challenge, receiving $250,000 (about R3.5 million) in grant funding.

Co-founders Lebogang Diale and Unathi September created the app to highlight a lack of career guidance counsellors at schools in previously disadvantaged communities. With close to 84,000 users in SA and Namibia, learners are also linked with corporate mentors via the app and on submitting marks, pupils are matched to bursary opportunities. – Read more on this article on the Business Insider site

TUT Soshanguve campuses finally start exams

After six weeks of suspended classes, students at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT)’s Soshanguve campuses are finally sitting down to exams. Protests brought on by claims of rigged SRC elections ended with the fatal shooting of Katlego Monareng and the shutting down of both North and South campuses in August. University spokesperson Willa de Ruyter said: “We upped security at the campuses to ensure that there will not be any
disruptions of the exams and that students can write in a conducive environment. It’s compulsory that students will not be permitted into the exam venue without their timetables.” Exams are expected to finish on December 21, while the rest of TUT’s students have already finished their exams. – Read more on the EWN site

Government lowers admission requirements to study a Bachelor’s degree

The Department of Higher Education has confirmed that requirements admission to study for a Bachelor’s degree have been lowered. As previously, one requires a National Senior Certificate (NSC, commonly still referred to as a matric) and 30% in the language of instruction of the higher education institution to study a Bachelor’s. Where the rules have loosened is that one now requires a 50% in any four 20-credit NSC subjects, where previously those were limited to a specific list of subjects. The announcement was met with mixed reactions from experts and institutions of higher learning, many of which have already complained that school leavers are inadequately prepared for university level studies.

Stellenbosch University spokesperson Martin Viljoen stated that “Passing any Grade 12 subject at 30% is a poor indicator of the probability of a student passing a quality bachelor’s degree. The latest gazetted announcement still does not challenge high school learners to adequately prepare for bachelor’s studies.”  Former University of the Free State vice-chancellor Jonathan Jansen said last year that passing Grade 12 in South Africa meant very little since exams are too easy and did not test students enough. – Read more on this story on the My Broadband site.

Suspect in court for Unizulu professor’s murder

A former University of Zululand (UniZulu) lecturer has appeared in court this week for his alleged part in the murder of prominent academic Professor Gregory Kamwendo. He is one of two men alleged to have planned the murder. Kamwendo was killed in a shooting at his home in Empangeni in May of this year. The killing was said to be in response to Kamwendo uncovering a fraudulent PhD syndicate at the university. The university has denied this in a statement and said vital facts had been distorted. It said that professor Kamwendo did not undertake any investigation into the alleged awarding of fake PhD qualifications.

However, it was noted that for the period 2017/2018, the higher degrees committee and senate “discovered that some of the presented dissertations were found not to comply with the policy imperatives,” UniZulu said. “It is the view of the University that Professor Kamwendo could have been a victim of this continuation of undermining the leadership through mafia tendencies hence his tragic assassination and untimely death. The University urges that the case should be allowed to follow all due processes without misrepresentations and fabrication of facts and justice must be done.” – Read the full story on the News24 site