LIVE BLOG: Target to complete the academic year is February 2021

Minister Blade Nzimande briefs media on Higher Education, Science and Innovation sector’s response to Coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown alert level.

"This has been a trying time of uncertainty", Nzimande says. "We've been forced into this situation by a global pandemic."

SETAs have lost R1.8 billion this year.

The last cohort of TVET college students returned to campus yesterday.

Those who submit false info to defraud NSFAS will face the law.

Students whose NSFAS has been reviewed for possibly being revoked can appeal within 14 days of being notified of this action.

NSFAS applications are open and will close in November. Over 89,000 applications have been received so far.

Students can accept or decline the offer of a laptop. Those who accept will receive on a loan to buy option, if they want to own it. The rest must return it in good condition.

Nzimande says I challenge UDM Bantu Holomisa to be honest about the companies he owns? Does he have interest in SETA’s that want the 600 million Rand tender? 

All companies that have received higher education tenders since the beginning of the pandemic will be publicly listed.

Nzimande says yes corruption is a problem but dismisses allegations that there’s corruption in the NSFAS tender aimed at providing laptops to students learning remotely. 

“There’s no bid awarded yet”.

International students studying in SA who are currently out of the country will only be able to return under level 1.

"No student will be left behind," Nzimande says.

The target to complete the academic year is February 2021. The start of 2021 is targeted for March - April2021.

6 are deemed very high risk.

14 universities are deemed low-risk for infections. 

Each institution will determine its own implementation. The last third will return under level 1 lockdown.

The second group is students who need labs to complete the academic year. The third group is those who require practical training. The fourth is all first-year students in undergraduate programmes.

The first category that can return is those who were allowed to return under level 3, but could not be accommodated at residences and in lecture rooms.

Under level 2 lockdown, 66% of students can return to campuses.

Not all campuses have health and safety committees. Nzimande says this is worrying, especially during this time of COVID-19. They are breaking the law.

33,985 students live in university-owned residences across SA. 

Students going to campuses are being screened every day.

Positive COVID-19 cases in institutions are at 1,552.

Government is committed to ensuring students complete the academic year. 30 staff members and 9 students at university have died from coronavirus.

The higher education department has been in regular communication with the sector. It has also put in place a monitoring process through which institutions report.

Institutions have also implemented their own return strategies. Up to 33% of students have returned to campuses.

On 8 June 2020, Nzimande released directions for the phased return to higher education campuses under level 3 lockdown.

Minister Nzimande has begun his address.

The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, has concluded the sector’s consultations with major stakeholders following the announcement of the Lockdown Alert Level 2 by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday 15th August 2020.

WATCH LIVE: Higher Education minister briefing on sector’s response to COVID-19 lockdown level 2