Half of universities struggle to complete academic year

South African universities will be expected to begin the 2021 academic year between 15 March and 15 April, but many will struggle to make that deadline, writes Christiaan van der Merwe for Research Professional News.

Dr Blade Nzimande, the minister of higher education and training, issued the announcement and the warning in a news conference on 26 August. After receiving reports on “readiness and operational indicators”, the Department of Higher Education and Training has identified that about half the country’s universities are at medium to high risk of missing the dates. Six universities apiece are judged medium and high risk. The high risk category includes troubled institutions like the University of Fort Hare and Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University.

Universities closed their campuses in response to the COVID-19 lockdown. A phased reopening is under way, with two-thirds of university populations being allowed to campuses under level two lockdown regulations. However, some institutions say they won’t resume face-to-face teaching this year. Nzimande said that “special support measures” will be put in place to help the 12 “outlier institutions” complete the academic year. He added he is “concerned about the wide range of variation” in progress towards the end of the 2020 academic year and preparations for the 2021 one.
Full report on the Research Professional News site