Today is International Woman’s Day, but it’s also a big day in the world of South African higher education as Wits University starts its academic year.
In an announcement the university also highlighted some impressive numbers when it comes to starting education again in 2021, especially for the first year students.
“Wits University received over 70 000 applications for just over 5 000 available first year places. Almost all first year students have been registered. These students will also be given preference in terms of residence placement,” reads the announcement.
While every first year student is different it’s reasonable to assume that many of them come from the troubled 2020 Matric year. Despite all the problems last year’s Matrics dealt with it proved to be the largest group ever as more than a million students sat for exams.
It’s not just the first year that saw high number either. For 2021, 35 000 students have been registered and late registrations are being allowed for undergraduates and postgraduates alike (until 19th and 11th March respectively).
Wits notes that the majority of registrations were online and that’s how many of them will stay when they becomes students as distance learning will remain the norm as the COVID-19 pandemic persists in the country.
“The academic programme will take place online for the first semester for the most part, with only a fraction of the students returning to campus at the invitation of faculties in a staggered and intermittent way. These include students who are required to conduct experiments in laboratories, to participate in studio work or to work on the frontline in hospitals and clinics,” continues the statement.
While many aspects of a higher education are lost with online learning – such as student socialising and team building – it is a necessary evil. In the last 24 hours 862 new COVID-19 cases were reported in South Africa as were 31 deaths. Gauteng, which is where the Wits campuses are located, accounted for 12 of those deaths.
To try to counter these negatives Wits also highlights some of the steps it has taken to get students funded for their studies including the Hardship Fund (see below) as well as financial aid, scholarships and rebates. We’re sure these were appreciated by students as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has been experiencing some troubles.
📢#DidYouKnow: Wits has made available a Wits Hardship Fund worth R10 million to assist students who are experiencing financial hardship. Read more facts: https://t.co/wLfF2GFPdT pic.twitter.com/cyuBe6Ryok
— Wits University (@WitsUniversity) March 7, 2021