Nzimande urges everyone in institutions of higher learning to vaccinate to help curb the spread of COVID-19

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Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has urged everyone in institutions of higher learning to vaccinate to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Nzimande was briefing the media on the state of readiness for the Post School Education and Training sector for the 2022 academic year.

The briefing comes as some Level 1 restrictions have been eased.

“I would like to encourage everyone in higher education to get vaccinated. Vaccination is safe and it saves lives. As we move towards full contact and learning and a full return to residences, it is necessary to ensure that staff and students have access to safe environments,” says Nzimande.

VIDEO: 2022 Academic Year – Briefing on the state of readiness of the higher education sector

Nzimande says funding schemes such as NFSAS and Seta must prioritise those who cannot afford university education.

He also reminded students that the funding is not a grant.

“All Sassa beneficiaries who receive grants who have applied to NFSAS they already got a reply. But we must make this distinction that qualifying for NSFSAS is not enough for you to get that money. You only get that money if you have also been admitted at a university or a college,” says Nzimande.

Meanwhile, universities say they are ready for the year ahead. The Tshwane University of Technology says it will continue receiving late applications.

“Right now, we are undergoing the enrolment process and we are still receiving more applications, but obviously, TUT has very limited space. In the Faculty of Science, Faculty of Engineering … as well as the Faculty of Information and Communication Technology. Our online application facility remains open until all courses are filled,” says TUT Spokesperson, Phaphama Tshisikhawe.

About 40 000 first-time students applied at the University of Pretoria.

The institution only has 9 000 spaces available.

University Spokesperson, Rikus Delport says they are closed for the year.

“We had planned well in advance to open our campus to more students. We incrementally started opening up our campus in the last quarter of last year and this year, we want to bring back more students in a safe manner. So, we are putting measures in place to ensure that the plan is to continue with a hybrid for now, but introduce more face-to-face classes,” explains Delport.

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) received over 350 000 applications. The institution says it’s going ahead with its mandatory vaccine policy for both staff and students.

“As part of our implementation for that policy, it’s if you want to access the campus, then you need to be vaccinated. For the first period, we allow partially vaccinated, meaning if its Pfizer, you must at least have the first jab, but we want to have this contact learning again for our students,” UJ Registrar Professor Kinta Burger explains.