It’s never too late to learn at Unisa

Gawtum Rughoonundun

Gawtum Rughoonundun

Age and nationality are never obstacles, but rather opportunities for those who chose to study at Unisa. The 47-year-old Mauritian-born Gawtum Rughoonundun, who is one of many who have benefited from Unisa’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme, recently graduated with a Bachelor of Consumer Science.

Rughoonundun was granted access to pursue his degree through RPL (mature learner process) and when he registered for the Bachelor of Consumer Science was also granted RPL credits for a few subjects based on his experience. This resulted in a double RPL benefit for Rughoonundun—gaining access and getting his qualification in a shorter time.

He came to South Africa over 20 years ago and first studied towards a Diploma in Hotel Management with Intec College. However, Rughoonundun wanted to pursue a degree but was not entirely sure how to go about it. A friend then recommended he try the route of RPL at Unisa. This was one of the best recommendations of his life, he said, as he stood on the stairs of Unisa’s Theo van Wijk Building, tall and proud, donning his graduation gown and cap. It’s a moment he will never forget, he said with a huge smile.

Very bright future

Graduating with a Bachelor of Consumer Science from Unisa, and knowing that it all started with RPL still feels surreal for Rughoonundun. “I’m also very excited and grateful to Unisa for the RPL programme because it has opened the door for a very bright future me,” he said.

So what does the future have in store for Rughoonundun? He is confident that his new qualification will enable him to move into a higher managerial position at Transnet, where he currently works as a Lodge Manager. Here he is responsible for the day-to-day management of a lodge and its staff.  He is accountable for budgeting and financial management, planning, organising and directing all lodge services, including front-of-house (reception, reservations), food and beverage operations, housekeeping, and health and safety. Whilst this is a lot, he is ready for more and believes his qualification has come at the right time to take his career to the next level. “I could become a Regional Lodge Manager, who is in charge of about four lodges and hostels, and it is possible because I now have the qualifications to back up my experience,” he explained.

Gawtum Rughoonundun is pictured with Dr Marici Snyman (RPL Specialist: Department of Tuition Support, Unisa) who played a key role in his student journey.

Gawtum Rughoonundun is pictured with Dr Marici Snyman (RPL Specialist: Department of Tuition Support, Unisa) who played a key role in his student journey.

Having taken a slightly different route than the traditional student, Rughoonundun values this degree even more so. “Having this Unisa degree now will make it easier for me to move into higher positions and even a different career field if I choose. I’m well aware that most, if not all, senior managerial positions require you to have a degree.”

Dr Marici Snyman, RPL Specialist from Unisa’s Department of Tuition Support, is confident about RPL because students like Rughoonundun prove that it works. She explained that RPL allows opportunities to students with work experience, since RPL is a way of recognising relevant skills, competencies, knowledge and learning that has taken place outside the formal education system. “This is an individualised process where we provide support throughout the process.  It values learning from experience, whereby reinforcing the worth of the individual and their experience,” she said.

Unisa has a dedicated RPL academic coordinator in each college. Snyman played a key role in Rughoonundun’s student journey when he did the RPL mature learner programme for access and applied for RPL credits for his Bachelor of Consumer Science through the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.

About RPL

During your lifetime, you will have acquired various skills, competencies and experiences. This learning, which may have taken place outside of formal education and training, is valuable regardless of where or when it was obtained. You may have acquired skills or knowledge from a combination of training conducted while at work, experience you gained in the workplace, short courses or from community work in a relevant field. RPL permits you to gain credits within formal certificate, diploma and degree qualifications offered by Unisa based on the level and extent of your knowledge. Your prior learning will be measured against specified prescribed learning outcomes. Your experience could translate into subject credits within your qualification or direct access into a postgraduate qualification.

*By Kirosha Naicker


Overview of Public Universities in South Africa

Here's an overview of some public universities in South Africa, including general admissions requirements and estimated application periods. Keep in mind, specific program requirements and dates can vary significantly, so it's important to check each university's official website for the most current information.

University of Pretoria

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with minimum scores in specific subjects related to the chosen program; for international students, equivalent qualifications.
  • Application Period: Usually opens in March and closes at the end of July for most programs.

University of Cape Town

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with pass levels required for degree study; subject-specific requirements depending on the program.
  • Application Period: Application opens in April and closes at the end of July.

Stellenbosch University

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with required marks; some programs have additional testing.
  • Application Period: Opens in March and typically closes at the end of June.

University of the Witwatersrand

  • Admissions Requirements: Matriculation certificate with university exemption; required scores vary by faculty.
  • Application Period: Begins in March and ends on the 30th of September.

University of Johannesburg

  • Admissions Requirements: Matric exemption with a minimum APS score; specific subject requirements based on the faculty.
  • Application Period: Opens in April and generally closes by the 30th of September.

University of the Free State

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with specific marks for the program applied to; additional requirements for certain courses.
  • Application Period: Typically opens in April and closes at the end of August.

University of Venda

  • Admissions Requirements: Completion of the National Senior Certificate with an endorsement for diploma or degree studies; specific APS scores needed.
  • Application Period: Usually from May to September.

University of Fort Hare

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with university exemption; certain programs may have specific requirements.
  • Application Period: Opens around May and closes at the end of September.

University of the Western Cape

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with specific performance levels; additional requirements for certain programs.
  • Application Period: Generally from May to September.

North-West University

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with university exemption; program-specific requirements may apply.
  • Application Period: Opens in March and usually closes by the end of August.

Rhodes University

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate or equivalent; minimum academic performance in certain subjects.
  • Application Period: Applications open in April and close at the end of September.

Nelson Mandela University

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with required scores for chosen programs; portfolio or additional tests for some faculties.
  • Application Period: Opens in April, with a deadline at the end of August for most programs.

Cape Peninsula University of Technology

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with specific scores; additional requirements for certain courses.
  • Application Period: Opens in May and typically closes by the end of September.

University of Limpopo

  • Admissions Requirements: Senior Certificate with endorsement for diploma or degree courses; specific APS scores for different programs.
  • Application Period: From April to September.

University of Zululand

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with an endorsement for bachelor’s degree studies; specific score requirements for various programs.
  • Application Period: Usually between April and November.

Central University of Technology

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with specific scores for the chosen field of study; additional criteria for certain programs.
  • Application Period: Application period generally starts in May and ends in October.

Vaal University of Technology

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with a pass that qualifies for admission to bachelor’s degree, diploma, or higher certificate programs.
  • Application Period: Typically from May to September.

Walter Sisulu University

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with required scores for chosen programs; additional criteria for certain faculties.
  • Application Period: From April to September.

This list provides a starting point for understanding the admissions landscape across South Africa's diverse higher education institutions. Given the variability in programs and requirements, it's crucial to consult each university's website for the most accurate and up-to-date information.