Universities will open in mid-March for first years, says Ndzimande

The matric class of 2020 should not panic, universities will be opening way after the National Senior Certificate results are released, said Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Blade Ndzimande.

“Do not panic, university enrolments for 2021 first-year students will open from as early as March to mid-April. Universities will be open to give a chance to first-year students. The timetable will be communicated as not all timetables are the same,” said Ndzimande.

He was speaking at a media briefing where he announced plans for the reopening of post-school education and training institutions amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Department of Basic Education has also announced a two-week delay in the reopening of schools.

Ndzimande said Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institution students would return in a staggered manner as from January 25, with the last group going back on February 15.

“Remote learning support will be in place for students who will return in February. The return of trimester students will be prioritised given the compressed study time for these students, and N5 and N6 students will return before N4 students,” he said.

Community Education and Training Colleges would be returning on February 15, as they have concluded their 2020 academic year work in hand with schools. He added that the Sector Education and Training Authorities (Setas) have resumed with their activities, especially with regards to the workplace-based learning activities.

Ndzimande also explained that at least 10 tertiary institutions have completed all teaching and learning activities, including the exam in 2020, but were just finalising special exams and in two cases, some practical assessments, to finalise all aspects and that about 16 institutions were still completing the academic year.

“This year we are dealing with two academic years in one year; the completion of 2020 and start of 2021. In light of the lockdown level 3, institutions will use their discretion. They will not stress the 66% capacity as in last year’s level 3. We are dealing with adults,” he said.

With regards to NSFAS applications, Ndzimande said there are over 750 000 applications for the 2021 academic year, which is an increase of about185 000 applications (or a 25% growth) on the 2020 applications. He said over 460 000 (or 61%) of these applicants are Sassa beneficiaries.

“The evaluation of the applications process began in December and is due to complete in mid-February, for funding decisions to be communicated in time for students registering for the new academic year,” he said.

Ndzimande announced that the tender for the provision of laptops was fairly awarded on November 2 to five bidders. He said university students will use their learning materials allowance to buy laptops and that his department was engaging with the Mobile Network Organisations such as MTN, Telkom, Vodacom and Cell C, with the intention that data becomes accessible to students.

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