HIGHER Education Minister Blade Nzimande says government is now in a position to welcome back 100% of university students back to campuses, including international students who are currently outside the borders of South Africa.
Nzimande was addressing the media on Wednesday on higher education and training’s response to COVID-19 epidemic lockdown Level 1.
“All universities are implementing their plans to return all students and staff from the 1st October, subject to any restrictions linked to their own risk assessment due to their local context and conditions,” said Nzimande.
“It must however be noted that the prescripts of COGTA regulations will apply. This means that the health and safety protocols in terms of physical distancing (at least 1.5m), wearing masks, washing hands, sanitising and environmental cleaning will be applied.”
Nzimande added that government will now be able to move to a 50% occupancy of rooms up to a maximum of 250 persons indoors at a time, with ventilation of rooms remaining critical.
“As a sector, we will also allow the hosting of side gatherings up to 500 people at a time,” he said.
“With respect to international students returning who remain outside our country, they will need to meet the requirements of the COGTA regulations – which includes having a test, not older than 72 hours, showing that they are negative for the virus on arrival in South Africa; if not, they will need to go into quarantine at their own expense for at least 10 days before proceeding to their respective institutions.”
Out of 25 universities in South Africa, ten universities aim to complete the academic year before the end of the 2020 calendar year while four universities plan to end in January 2021, seven universities plan to complete in February 2021, and five universities plan to complete in March 2021, said Nzimande.
“There were some universities that were not able to start their academic year effectively before the lockdown and that is also reflected in this staggered end of the academic year,” he said.
Nzimande said the higher education and training sector expect that the results from the National Senior Certificate examinations would be announced on 23 February 2021.
“As a result, the start of the academic year for first year students will be between 8 March 2021 and 12 April 2021,” said Nzimande.
(COMPILED BY INSIDE EDUCATION STAFF)