Universities and higher education institutions throughout South Africa will now be allowed to complete the 2020 academic year in February 2021.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced in a briefing on Wednesday [August 26] that the 2021 academic year for tertiary institutions will start between March 15 and April 15 of 2021.

“We need to strike the right balance between the imperative of enabling all institutions to complete the requirements for the 2020 academic year to give all students a fair chance,” Nzimande said. “For this reason I have met with both the COVID-19 ministerial task team and vice-chancellors upon the principle to agree on a fixed period within which all institutions must complete the current academic year and a fixed period of starting dates for the opening of the 2021 academic year.”

The following categories of students will be able to return under Level 2:

– All groups that had been prioritised to return in Level 3, but couldn’t be accommodated due the maximum campus carrying capacity having been reached;

– Students in all years of study who require laboratory and technical equipment to complete the academic year;

– Students in all years of study who require practical placements/ experiential learning/ work place-based learning to complete the academic year (provided the work places and platforms are open and prepared);

– First year students in all undergraduate programmes.

All other students will continue to be supported through remote multimodal teaching learning and assessment until they can return to campus.

Ahmed Bawa of the Universities South Africa (USAF) said the organisation is concerned that a significant number of universities that have not been able to offer ongoing “emergency teaching”, but all the universities have a plan in place to complete the academic year, according to EWN.

USAF also added that universities should consider extending the deadline for applications to study in 2021. “Universities will have to take into account that students will only receive their final NSC results on 23 February 2021,” Bawa said.

Picture: Twitter

Article written by

Anita Froneman