When and how South African universities will open in 2021

Higher Education minister Blade Nzimande has announced that South Africa’s universities and colleges are on track to complete the 2020 and 2021 academic years.

In a media briefing on Monday (18 January), Nzimande said that ten institutions had concluded the formal academic teaching year and were now just concluding special examinations.

He said that the remaining 16 institutions will complete their academic year at different times over the coming months. He added that all universities are open and currently face no restrictions on student numbers so that they can complete the academic year.

Once the 2020 academic year is completed, Nzimande indicated that 2021 academic year will start after the matric results are released so that new students are given an opportunity to be admitted.

“All institutions have aligned the start of the 2021 Academic Year for first-time entries with the availability of Department of Basic Education National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination results.

“All universities will open way after the matric results are announced on 26 February,” he said. “We have given instruction for now that institutions should open between March and April 2021.”

Nzimande warned students that they should still check their timetables as their courses may start earlier than expected and that none of the academic timetables are the same.

Students who have enrolled at TVET colleges will follow the existing timetable and return to their institutions in a staggered manner starting from 25 January.

The minister said that further details around the opening of institutions will be provided at a later date.

Schools closure

The announcement comes after the Department of Basic Education announced that the government will keep all schools closed in South Africa due to concerns around the country second Covid-19 wave.

In a media briefing on Friday (15 January), Deputy Basic Education minister Reginah Mhaule said that both public and private schools will delay their opening dates by two weeks.

The return date of independnet schools will vary based on their respective calendars. For other schools, the new opening dates are as follows:

  • Teachers will report to schools on Monday, 1 February
  • Learners will return on Monday, 15 February

Mhaule said that support staff will use this additional time to prepare for schools the return of learners. She added that further meetings will take place next week to determine the readiness of schools to reopen.


Read: Major problems expected at South African schools due to Covid-19

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When and how South African universities will open in 2021