Matric students might have to wait until April 2021 to start campus because of the likely extension of the 2020 academic year into 2021. The 2020 academic year is likely to finish around March 2021. Education institutions have had to re-organise their academic calendars to make up for lost time in academics.
“We are talking to basic education all the time to just try and understand what their plans are,” CEO of Universities South Africa Ahmed Bawa explains. He has also further explained that they are communicating with the higher education department for progress.
All University applications are now open for learners to apply for the 2021 academic year. A major change that was seen due to Covid-19 was that Universities no longer see the National Benchmark Tests (NBTs) as a requirement to get in.
It was also announced that the Matric results will be released on the 23rd of February 2021 as Matric exams will be completed by the 15th of December which will also be the day the academic year ends.
Covid-19 currently affects 900,000 students in the university sector.
Universities South Africa (USAf) has said that at least 28 staff members and four students have died from COVID-19 since higher education institutions reopened two months ago. However, even after these reports, USAf has said that there was no cause for concern yet.
“There are approximately 12,100 positive cases that have been identified across the system. And some 15,100 students and staff have been asked to go into quarantine and 300 staff and students have been asked to go into isolation. Unfortunately, there have also been deaths,” USAf CEO Ahmed Bawa said, and that these are mostly people who have comorbidities.
However, these infections and deaths are mainly because of community infections and insufficient health systems and not higher educations as a sector completely.
Universities saw 33% of students return to campuses in June, a portion of this students are medical students who are doing their clinical trials.
On the new way of learning which is currently seen at Universities , TVET Colleges and schools, Prof Bawa said the idea of universities converting somehow to blended learning might turn out to be correct in the future but that "this time of stress was not the best time to reconceptualise the role of universities".
Prof Bawa has explained that "the humanising role of universities, and building the nation, is best done in the face-to-face mode" which many students will agree on. Students need contact teaching to properly engage in learning and face to face contact ensures that students are able to be taught the way lecturers were trained to.