Blade Nzimande Says Academic year likely to spill over into 2021 |

Filed in Latest News by on July 10, 2020 0 Comments

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has provided an update on the return of South Africa’s students to universities, community colleges and other institutions of higher learning, conceding that the 2020 academic year is likely to only conclude in 2021.

This will mean a delay in the 2021 academic year as universities prepare to take in new students.

Nzimande covered a range of topics pertaining to ongoing issues within Higher Education, including transformation policies and the launch of a committee of inquiry into ongoings at the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

UNIVERSITIES SLOWLY WELCOMING STUDENTS BACK

Nzimanda said on Wednesday 8 July that all public and private universities in the country have provided plans for the reintroduction of their students to campuses, with 66% of students already having been allowed back to campuses.

He said that the remaining 33% of students would be reintroduced in a staggered fashion, with priority given to the following students:

  • Students in the final year of programmes
  • Students requiring access to residences, private accommodation and labs,
  • Post-graduate students who require labs and technical equipment.

He added that students who do not require campus-based assistance are urged not to go back to return at this stage.

“All public universities have provided plans [for reopening], with private universities doing the same,” he said “They have all provided the dates for student returns, which parents should monitor closely, and all universities continue to support other students through remote learning solutions.”

He said that the staggered approach to welcoming students back to South Africa’s universities had begun on 17 June and would continue until the end of August, when Nzimande hopes all students will have returned.

He said that 20 universities have welcomed students back to campuses and residences.

HEADING

Nzimande conceded that the end of the 2020 academic year is likely to spill over into the 2021 provisional calandar, meaning that new students will have to wait until the conclusion of this year’s work before beginning the next chapter in their lives.

“We really have a lot of work and challenges on our hands,” he said.

“Any mistake that we could have avoided could be very costly. We need every hour to rescue teaching and learning.”

“It is likely that 2021 intake will be later than usual. This will require a change to the 2021 calendar.”

He said that there will be clearer regulations and instructions for universities and students published in a government gazette that he had submitted on Wednesday.

HEADING

Nzimande said that community colleges are currently not ready to welcome back the full compliment of students on their roster.

“Community colleges cannot cope with the full return of students,” he said.

“They are in a far riskier position than universities and TVED colleges. It is our considered view that for 2020 academic year the return of students should be limited.”

He said that by allowing only portions of their student body back, such colleges would be provided an opportunity to better prepare themselves for compliance with COVID-19 regulations.

“This will enable them to comply with regulations, especially physical distancing and the provision of adequate PPE.”

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