Key highlights: Briefing on Higher Education Dept's response to level 2 lockdown
Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Blade Nzimande on Wednesday briefed the media on his department's response to the country's move to lockdown alert level 2.
JOHANNESBURG - Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Blade Nzimande on Wednesday said that he had instructed all public institutions, including Setas, under his department to publish a full list of all companies that had benefited from procurement processes related to COVID-19.
This after parliament’s portfolio committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology expressed concerns this week over the delays in the procurement of laptops for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) qualifying students.
The committee said that it had been four months since Nzimande announced that NSFAS students would get the learning devices, but they remained undelivered as a result of delays in the finalisation of the procurement processes by NSFAS.
There have also been allegations over interference with the procurement processes.
“Although this thing of the laptops put us back in terms of the quest to access sufficient learning devices, we will stay within the law and due administrative process. The results of this process will be open for public scrutiny once the process is independently and fairly completed,” Nzimande said.
On NSFAS applications for the 2021 academic year, Nzimande said that applications opened on 3 August and would close on 30 November this year.
To date, NSFAS had already received over 98,547 applications.
RETURN OF STUDENTS
As of 6 August, there were 33,985 students living in university-owned residences
The categories of students who will be able to return under level 2 included:
A maximum of up to 66% of students will be able to return to campuses.
All groups that were prioritised to return in level 3 but could not be accommodated due to 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.
International students studying at South African universities currently outside SA will only be able to return to their campuses during level 1 once international travel resumes.
2021 ACADEMIC YEAR
Earlier, Nzimande said that his department had set a target for all public universities to complete the 2020 academic year by the end of February 2021.
Briefing the media in Pretoria on his department’s plans in response to the country’s move to level 2 lockdown, he said that the new starting dates for the 2021 academic year would range from 15 March to 15 April 2021.
The minister announced that 80 members of the public higher education community had lost their lives due to related illness.
He said those who lost their lives included 35 staff members and nine university students.
The minister said that 1,552 COVID-19 positive cases were reported at universities, which included 975 staff members, 2,040 people in quarantine, and 2,076 people in self-isolation.
Nzimande said that institutions were implementing their own return strategies for students in line with their teaching and campus readiness plans. He called on institutions to establish health and safety committees to monitor the health and safety of staff members and students.
He said that under level 3 of the lockdown, up to 33% of students were returning to campuses.
WATCH: Nzimande briefs on level 2 plans for higher education