New lockdown rules for South African universities – here are the students allowed to return to class

The Department of Higher Education and Training has published a new directive outlining the students that will be allowed to return under South Africa’s coronavirus lockdown levels.

In addition to the health and safety instructions that must be followed, the directive also provides return plans for all of the country’s major university degrees as well as the return of students to on-campus residences.

“All private and public higher education institutions must ensure that their infrastructure and facilities meet the requirements for the return of staff and students,” the department said.

“No student or staff member should return to campus or residences until they have received communication from their institution that they are able to do so.”

It added that students will require the relevant permit for return before travelling to the campus.

The return of students is outlined in more detail below.


Level 3

A maximum of 33% of the student population return to each campus/delivery site for teaching, learning and assessment, in line with the following criteria:

  • All groups that have already returned during alert level 4;
  • Students in the final year of their programmes, who are on a path to graduating in 2020 may return;
  • Students in all years of study that require clinical training in their programmes (provided that the campus and the clinical training platforms are prepared and have sufficient space to accommodate them within the corresponding risk level maximum carrying capacity and any while adhering to the safety protocols);
  • Post-graduate students who require laboratory equipment and other technical equipment to undertake their studies return to campuses;
  • All other students are supported through remote multimodal teaching learning and assessment until they can return to campus.

Small private higher education institutions with a student enrolment of less than 50 students, may apply to the Department for exemption from these criteria.

Students in the following programmes requiring clinical training will be allowed to return, subject to the above. These include:

  • Diploma in Agriculture;
  • Bachelor/Diploma: Animal Health;
  • Bachelor of Audiology;
  • Bachelor of Science in Biokinetics;
  • Bachelor/Diploma: Biomedical Technology;
  • Bachelor of Clinical Medical Practice;
  • Bachelor of Health Science in Clinical Technology;
  • Diploma of Chiropractic;
  • Bachelor of Science in Complementary Medicine;
  • Higher Certificate Dental Assisting;
  • Bachelor of Dental Science;
  • Bachelor of Dental Surgery;
  • Diploma of Dental Technology;
  • Bachelor of Dental Therapy;
  • Bachelor of Dentistry;
  • Bachelor of Science: Dietetics/Nutrition;
  • Bachelor/Diploma: Emergency Medical Care;
  • Bachelor of Environmental Health;
  • Bachelor of Science: Health Promotion;
  • Bachelor of Health Sciences;
  • Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery;
  • Bachelor of Sciences (Medical Laboratory Science);
  • Diploma/Bachelor: Medical Orthotics and Prosthetics;
  • Diploma/Bachelor of Science: Nursing;
  • Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy;
  • Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy;
  • Bachelor in Optometry;
  • Bachelor of Health Oral Health/Hygiene;
  • Bachelor of Pharmacy;
  • Bachelor of Technology Podiatry;
  • Bachelor of Psychology;
  • Bachelor/Diploma: Radiography/Ultrasound;
  • Bachelor of Speech, Language and Hearing Therapy;
  • Bachelor of Science in Speech, Language Pathology and Audiology;
  • Bachelor of Social Work;
  • Bachelor of Sport Coaching;
  • Diploma: Veterinary Technology;
  • Bachelor of Veterinary Science.

Level 2

A maximum of 66% of the student population return to campus for teaching, learning and assessment in line with the following criteria:

  • All groups that have already returned or had been prioritised to return in Level 3, but couldn’t be accommodate due the maximum campus carrying capacity having been reached;
  • Students in all years of study who require laboratory and technical equipment to complete the academic year;
  • Students in all years of study who require practical placements/ experiential learning/ work place based learning to complete the academic year (provided the work places and platforms are open and prepared);
  • First year students in all undergraduate programmes.

All other students are supported through remote multimodal teaching learning and assessment until they can return to campus.


Level 1

  • 100% of the student population may return to campus;
  • Physical distancing and health protocols will still be required;
  • Social solidarity will be required;
  • International students who were residing outside of the country during the lockdown period may return (provided that international travel is permitted).

You can read the full directive below.


Read: No plans to reinstate alcohol ban in South Africa at this time: government

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New lockdown rules for South African universities – here are the students allowed to return to class