Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has outlined the sector’s response to COVID-19 during Level 2 of the lockdown, as the department aims to complete the academic year in February 2021.

Nzimande says there have been delays in the distribution of laptops to pupils. He says the delay is caused by the department taking extra measures in preventing corruption.

Nzimande says there will be challenges as students go back to campuses but measures will be put in place to ensure that social distancing is adhered to.

More than 1 500 positive cases of the virus have been recorded at various campuses and 80 people have lost their lives.

Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation spoke to Morning Live about the higher education institutions’ readiness:

66% of students will be able to return to university under Alert Level 2: Nzimande

Nzimande says a maximum of 66 percent of students will be able to return to university campuses under Alert Level 2.

He says students in all years of study who require laboratory and technical equipment, and students who require practical placements to complete their academic year will be able to return as from the 1st of September.

All first-year undergraduate students and students who could not be accommodated under Alert Level 3 will also be able to return.

Nzimande says all other students will be supported through remote teaching and learning until they can return to campus.

2020 academic year might spill over into 2021

In July, Nzimande announced that the intake of first-year university students for 2021 may take place later than usual.

Nzimande said the end of the 2020 academic year is likely to spill over into the 2021 calendar.

Nzimande said, “As you can see now, already because of the challenges we are facing in 2020 already we are going to have pressure for the 2021 academic year so everyone, parents, students and other stakeholders must realise that unless we cooperate unless we commit not to waste teaching and learning time, the future of our many students, thousands of them will be at stake.”