Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Nzimande urges 2020 matriculants not to panic

By Okuhle Hlati Time of article published Jan 19, 2021

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Cape Town – Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has urged 2020 matrics and their parents not to panic as the reopening of higher education institutions has been delayed due to the availability of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) exam results.

The delay also gave 16 institutions the chance to complete their 2020 academic year, while 10 have already completed all teaching and learning activities, including the exams.

Addressing the media yesterday, Nzimande said in the light of the enhanced Level 3 conditions, all institutions were following different academic plans to account for different programme requirements and conditions.

He said the department would work closely with institutions in preparing the system for the opening of the new academic year, which was expected to commence between early March and mid April this year.

“While the current focus is on the completion of the 2020 academic year, I will provide further information on plans for 2021 at a later stage, following engagement with institutions and aligned with the release of the NSC examination results.

“It will be critical to ensure that the necessary health and safety protocols are in place for the registration period at universities and this will require clear and timeous communication with returning and new students,” Nzimande said.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme has received more than 750 000 applications for the 2021 academic year, an increase of 185 000 from last year.

At least 61% of applicants were beneficiaries of government’s Sassa grants.

Nzimande said given the high number of applications received for NSFAS, funding late applications would not be possible this year.

“Unfortunately, we are not going to do that. Firstly, we gave four months last year for those who want to apply to apply. We are now focusing on screening for purposes of allocating those who are successful.

’’Also, each university and TVET college has an enrolment plan and can only admit a specific number of students.

“The competition for such spaces is high, especially at universities. Students who have applied to a university should be aware that they are given a specific time to respond and accept a space, before the space is offered to another student.

“Students should therefore act quickly and make a decision whether to accept the space or not if they are made an offer, to avoid the risk of losing the space,” he said.

South African Students Congress president Bamanye Matiwane said: “Sasco has always been at the forefront of championing for students.

“We are happy about the number of students who applied and more than 60% are coming from rural schools. We are not happy though about the arrogance we picked up about the NSFAS application process which will not be opened again.

“We won't take that easily, we will have to make strategies to make sure at least students can apply.”

Regarding laptops, NSFAS' new chief executive officer, Andile Nongogo, said they would be distributed in batches and should be available in March when the academic year started.

“Currently NSFAS is engaging with the service providers to develop the implementation process, including specifications, ordering, order turnaround times, delivery, payment terms, warranty, support and maintenance.

“At the same time NSFAS is finalising the implementation guidelines for universities and TVET colleges, which will be consulted with before implementation.”

Cape Times

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