Last week, the Department of Basic Education confirmed the new 2021 academic year start date for local Primary and High Schools in the country as a result of COVID-19. This week it is the turn of tertiary institutions as Higher Education Minister Dr Blade Nzimande confirmed that tertiary institutions in the country can begin their 2021 academic year between early March and mid-April.
This large window is designed to give universities, TVET colleges and other institutions time to accept learners in a phased approach where possible, with Nzimande adding that ensuring that campuses have the correct measures in place to accept students, also noting that more information on that front was forthcoming.
“I will provide further information on plans for 2021 at a later stage, following engagement with institutions and aligned with the release of the Department of Basic Education NSC examination results,” he said.
“As a department, we are continuing to monitor institutions to keep track of academic and health and safety matters,” the minister assured.
His department is also taken any and all measures to help current university students complete their studies for the 2020 academic year, which has been extended into 2021 due to the chaos created by COVID-19, taking the time to commend learners on their efforts too.
“I also commend the many students in the system who have pushed hard to complete their studies, sometimes in very difficult conditions,” shared Nzimande.
While finishing up the 2020 curriculum and preparing for the return of students are important, of equal significance is how the new learners will be handled for the 2021 academic year, especially as registration processes in the past have proved fatal due to a lack of proper organisation and an influx of students hoping to get last minute acceptance at certain institutions.
We have already seen the likes of Unisa limit its intake for 2021, and in remains to be seen if other universities and TVET colleges in the country will do the same. If so, it further exacerbates an already difficult period for Matric students, many of whom are relying on their end of year results in order to continue studying.