Minister of Higher Education and Basic Training, Blade Nzimande, briefed the media on the state of South African university’s ambitions to complete the 2020 academic year, which has been plagued with disruptions and challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent national lockdowns. 

He said that the country’s universities have all taken individual, risk adjusted approaches to the unprecedented challenges posed by the extraordinary circumstances that faced them, but insisted that all continue to ensure that students successfully complete their programmes timeously so as to progress to the 2021 schedule. 

Majority of SA’s universities will complete 2020 academic year  

Nzimande said that in spite of the immense challenge that universities faced this year, the “vast majority” are considered unlikely, or “low risk”, of failing to complete the 2020 academic year. 

“We have been closely monitoring the situation across all universities, and I am pleased to say that as of 13 November the vast majority of institutions, 25, are at ‘low risk’ of not competing the academic year,” he said. 

He added that several universities are on course to complete the year as scheduled, with the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the University of Pretoria (UP) set to finish their semesters during in November 2020, and eight universities concluding in December.

Universities adopt individual approaches to challenges  

The 2020 Academic year was always likely to stretch into 2021 after the substantial disruptions to lectures and assessment schedules, and Nzimande said that North-West University (NWU), Rhodes (RU) and the University of Pretoria (UMP) set to finish in January 2021.  

Nine universities will finish in February 2020, and four universities will finish in March.

Universities completing the year in December 2020:

  • Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), 
  • Sol Plaatje University (SPU), 
  • Stellenbosch University (SU), 
  • University of Cape Town (UCT), 
  • University of the Free State (UFS), 
  • University of South Africa (UNISA), 
  • University of the Western Cape (UWC) and,
  • University of Witwatersrand (WITS)

Universities completing the year in February: 

  • Central University of Technology (CUT), 
  • Durban University of Technology (DUT), 
  • Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT), 
  • Nelson Mandela University (NMU), 
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), 
  • University of Limpopo (UL), 
  • The University of Venda (UNIVEN), 
  • University of Zulu (UNIZULU) and, 
  • Vaal University of Technology (VUT)

Universities completing the year in March: 

  • Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU), 
  • Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), 
  • University of Fort Hare (UFH), and,
  • Walter Sisulu University (WSU)

‘No need for anxiety’ over matric enrolment  

Nzimande insisted that there is “no need for anxiety” when it comes to current metric student’s applications to enter tertiary institutions in 2021, with provisions having been made to ensure that intake will operate as it should. 

“The Department had engagements with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and South African College Principals Organisation (SACPO) regarding the implication of the late release of the Grade 12 class of 2020 on registration for the 2021 academic year,” he said. 

“Following these engagements, it was concluded that the release of matric results in February 2021 does not necessitate an amendment of the 2021 academic calendar for TVET colleges as this will only affect students who would like to enrol for the Report 191 programme.” 

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Presh JM Reporter

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