WITS University has announced the start of the 2021 academic year on Monday for over 35 000 registered students.
The university also said that the first semester is to take place online due to the coronavirus pandemic and safety concerns on campus.
“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 facilities in a staggered way,” said the university’s spokesperson, Shirona Patel.
Patel said the university received over 70 000 applications from first-year prospective applicants, however, only 5 000 spaces were available.
“A limited number of students are allowed to return to campus. 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,” said Patel.
The university said it would still allow late applications.
It said undergraduates would be allowed to register until 19 March and postgraduates until 12 March.
Wits University’s decision to go back to campus, however, has been slammed by the Student Representative Council (SRC).
“The university is not ready to start the academic year, first years don’t have laptops, they have not registered, some don’t know where they will be staying,” said the SRC in a statement.
The student council said it preferred the academic year to start on 30 March.
“The academic year is only going to start on 30 March, not only at Wits but other institutions too,” added the SRC.
Universities South Africa said based on the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions of higher learning are better prepared for the 2021 academic year.
(SOURCE: INSIDE EDUCATION)