Higher Education Minister Dr Blade Nzimande says the country’s public universities and TVET colleges are gearing up for the start of 2023 academic year.
Nzimande on Tuesday briefed the media on the state of readiness for the post-school education and training sector for the 2023 academic year.
The minister said registrations for universities for the 2023 academic year started on 16 January, and will close on 20 February.
With the deadline for registrations fast approaching, Nzimande said several universities would allow for late registrations due to the delayed release of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations results.
These institutions include:
- The Cape Peninsula University of Technology
- Durban University of Technology
- Mangosuthu University of Technology
- Rhodes University
- University of Fort Hare
- Walter Sisulu University
- Tshwane University of Technology
- University of Zululand
Nzimande encouraged returning and prospective students not to register late for the new academic year.
“People who want to go to these universities must not relax, because if you relax; you may lose an opportunity,” he said.
Covid-19 Omicron subvariant
Nzimande said the post-school education and training sector was working on a strategy to respond to the negative impact of load shedding and the resurgence of Covid-19 Omicron subvariant called XBB.1.5, nicknamed Kraken.
Several cases of the highly transmissible subvariant have been detected in South Africa since December 2022.
The minister said various universities across the country had adopted different strategies to deal with the impact of load shedding on teaching and learning.
He said both departments of higher education and science and innovation would establish a working group consisting of universities and TVET colleges to come up with an inclusive approach to deal with the challenge of the rolling blackouts.
“I will update the public on these efforts following the conclusion of our internal consultation processes as part of dealing with the negative impact of load shedding,” he said.
Regarding the management of Covid-19 in higher learning institutions, Nzimande said his department was also working with institutions to monitor and manage public health protocols, as advised by the Department of Health, to ensure the safety of students on campuses.
“Over the last three years, Higher Health – our entity that is assisting us with staff student wellness in our institutions – has played an instrumental role within the context of both the policies of the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Department of Health towards putting in place protocols, procedures, systems and capacity to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“All these instruments remain active should we need to apply them in response to this new variant,” said Nzimande.
The minister said his department had noticed a rise in case of gender-based violence (GBV) at higher learning institutions, and Higher Health would also assist in ensuring safe workplaces and learning spaces for staff and students.
The Department of Higher Education and Learning had also established a ministerial task team to fight sexual harassment and GBV in the universities.
The task team is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor of Nelson Mandela University Professor Sibongile Muthwa.
“The report of the ministerial task team was submitted to me for consideration and I will soon be realising it to the public,” said Nzimande.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe