The power cuts due to loadshedding across South Africa has left a negative impact on tertiary students as universities have had to resort to blended learning which makes use of online platforms which students can only access with stable power and internet connectivity.
The South African Union of Students (SAUS) has released a statement in which they detail the challenges students are now facing while they study and take their examinations online.
Students have reported that they have experienced disruptions to their online examinations because when the power cuts their WiFi also cuts and then they are automatically disconnected from their examination. This has often lead to automatic submissions of incomplete assessments or would lead to students getting locked out of their assessments.
Mobile networks are also affected by power cuts so students are sometimes unable to make use of their mobile data to complete their examinations while they experience load shedding.
Students have also reported disruptions to their studying as the loadshedding schedules have been inaccurate or unavailable.
SAUS says that the loadshedding has further worsened the conditions that students have had to work under as they have already been faced with the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The SAUS has called for an urgent intervention to loadshedding as students are still writing their online examinations as well as for the removal of the CEO of Eskom, Andre De Ruyter who they say is "useless and incompetent."
"We therefore are calling for an urgent intervention to this power crisis and for the prompt removal of the visibly useless and incompetent Andre De Ruyter," read the statement.
Leaders of Universities across the country such as the UCT Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng have also spoken about the challenges which the students and universities have faced due to loadshedding.
"Load shedding affects the poor and working class students the most, installing generators in the university to ensure that we are covered for exams is not good enough because working class students cannot study at home," said Prof. Phakeng.
The SAUS says that these challenges will have a negative effect on the mental health of students and many students will not have access to psychological support services on campus as they are studying from home.
They say that the power cuts will ultimately negatively affect the performance of students as students will no longer have "fair and free participation in assessments and examinations." This could lead to many students losing their funding and being academically excluded.