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Student return to campus


A maximum of 66% of students will be allowed to return to university campuses, in line with the country’s shift to level 2 of the national lockdown.

Briefing the media on Wednesday on the department’s plans for level 2, Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, said the return of students will be done in accordance with COVID-19 management plans to keep students and staff safe, while allowing for greater access to campus teaching and learning for more students.

The categories of students who will be able to return under level 2 include:

  • All groups that had been prioritised to return in level 3, but couldn’t be accommodated due the maximum campus carrying capacity having been reached;
  • Students in all years of study, who require laboratory and technical equipment to complete the academic year;
  • Students in all years of study, who require practical placements/experiential learning/work place-based learning to complete the academic year (provided the work places and platforms are open and prepared), and
  • First-year students in all undergraduate programmes, will also be allowed to return to their campuses.

Nzimande said all other students will continue to be supported through remote multimodal teaching learning and assessment, until they can return to campus.

The Minister acknowledged that each institution will determine the implementation of these criteria in terms of their own academic programme plans and strategies.

“I am aware that there have been different approaches and strategies for completion across the system, and some institutions have faced difficulties in implementing their teaching and learning plans effectively.

“However, we have been doing everything possible to ensure that we support institutions to respond in the best possible way to the many challenges that have arisen during the pandemic.

“This has included the re-prioritisation of funds to support the COVID-19 response at our public universities,” Nzimande said.

Institutions have been requested to submit updated plans to safely accommodate students and staff.

International students studying at South African universities, who are currently outside the country, will only be able to return to their campuses during level 1, once international travel resumes.

Nzimande said priority may have to be given to registrars and senior medical students in this category, should international travel be permitted under level 2.