The 2021 academic year experiences a staggers start as only 8 of the 36 South African university opened on Monday due to Covid-19.
In an interview with CEO of Universities South Africa (USAf) Ahmed Bawa, he expresses that the academic year is off to a staggered start.
He states that:
The start of the academic year has been staggered between the 8th of March to the first week of April, so different universities at different times to try and ensure we don't have a massive flows of young people.
He believes that this staggered start is an advantage because, it allows for campuses to make sure they have important safety measures in place when students return to campus.
Another reason for the academic staggered is because many universities have extended their 2020 academic year in to 2021.
NSFAS also plays a big role in the start of the academic year as their promise on devices such as laptops are crucial for students learning experience.
NSFAS promised that students should start seeing deliveries of devices in March but no reports of deliveries have surfaced.
The blended learning strategies that were implemented during the pandemic created challenges for students and NSFAS not delivering only made these challenges more difficult for the 60% of students they provide funding for.
Professor Bawa believes that South Africa is in around R10 billion of student debt, and this money would have been ideal for the current situation and would have allowed for better and more fair learning opportunities for students today.
He is currently said to be working on funding strategies for the missing middle. The missing middle refers to students that are too rich to qualify for NSFAS but, are too poor to pay their own fees. The missing middle household income is between R350 000 and R600 000 which is above the NSFAS requirement.
Professor Bauer says:
"We hope that the lessons of last year allow for more smooth sailing for this year"