Higher education is the latest sector to delay its re-opening dates with 16 universities still finalising their academic year.
Addressing the media recently, Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, announced that universities will start the academic year between early March and mid-April.
The re-opening of higher education institutions is also aligned with the start of the 2021 academic year for first-time entries with the availability of Department of Basic Education National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination results.
Minister Nzimande says it is critical to ensure that the necessary health and safety protocols are in place for the registration period at universities and this will require clear and timeous communication with returning and new students.
According to the Minister, significant efforts have been made across all institutions to ensure that a fair opportunity has been provided to all students to complete the 2020 academic year.
“This has included an inevitable extended period into the 2021 calendar year for the majority of institutions.”
In addition, the department has provided support to institutions through the re-prioritisation of funds into a COVID Responsiveness Grant.
This grant supported universities to implement multimodal teaching and learning plans and campus safety plans.
“As a department, we are continuing to monitor institutions to keep track of academic and health and safety matters.”
National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) beneficiaries continued to receive their funding during the academic year, which provides vital support to many students.
“Although the available funding at NSFAS is severely constrained, we will continue to provide living allowances to those students who qualify for the period of the extended academic year.”
Meanwhile, the national framework on tuition and accommodation fees has ensured that additional costs for students have been kept to a minimum.
Teaching and learning at Community Education and Training Colleges (CET colleges) will now start on 15 February 2021, when the schools open their gates again.
“Given the changes from DBE, as a department, we will provide the CET colleges with a revised academic calendar after consulting the revisions in the DBE’s calendar.”
The Minister also announced that the National Treasury has approved R45.7 million to be transferred to CET colleges during the 2021/22 financial year as an earmarked allocation for cleaning services. – SAnews.gov.za