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The 2021 academic year at Nelson Mandela University looks set to begin in March 2021, as the current academic year will be extended to ensure its successful completion.

The University’s Executive Committee of Senate approved a revised Academic Calendar last month, which will see the first semester conclude on 23 September 2020, and the second semester will start on 28 September, with most of the teaching concluded on 18 December 2020.  

Experiential learning activities, revision sessions and summer schools will be held in early January to assist students to complete aspects of their modules and prepare for assessments. Examinations and other end-of-module assessments, including re-examinations, will take place in late January and February 2021, with the new Academic Year beginning in March 2021.

Since mid-March 2020, the University has been devising plans around various scenarios to counter the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensure the overall safety of students and staff, and to provide learning opportunities to every student enrolled for the 2020 academic year.

All these plans have been in line with the national regulations.

Mandela University’s Registrar, Mr Edgar De Koker, said the calendar had been adjusted based on the institution’s blended learning approach.

“The calendar has largely been premised on the blended learning approach adopted by the University for the remainder of the year, as well as guided by both national health directives and those of the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology,” he said.

“This revised Academic Calendar must be taken as a broad framework for faculties and academic departments to work within.”

In this blended approach, most of the learning and teaching will remain online for the remainder of the academic year. To enable this, students with device and connectivity challenges will be able to access general and specialised computer labs and Wi-Fi zones when they return to campus.

Experiential learning, lab and studio work, and clinical training will be contact in nature in venues that are COVID-19 compliant and in an environment that requires everyone to wear facemasks, and practise physical distancing and health hygiene behaviours.

Only some revision tutorials, tests and exams may be held face-to-face in COVID-19 compliant venues. In many modules, there has been a shift towards continuous based assessment, where e-assessments and assignments are the main methods of evaluation.

To accommodate the uneven access that our students have had to conducive learning environments while they have been off campus, the first semester has been significantly extended to allow the staggered teaching of students on different pathways linked to when and how they could restart their learning. In addition, the start and end dates of semesters will likely be adjusted for some programmes and modules to accommodate professional and clinical training requirements and applied learning experiences.

The University is also monitoring developments in the Basic Education space as it is mindful of the effects of the overall lockdown restrictions on matriculants, and the release of their final results, which is likely to be in February 2021.  This also contributed to the decision to only start the 2021 academic year in March.

However, applications for 2021 enrolment have been coming in since the online platform opened in April 2020, with more than 45 000 applications received for next year. This is slightly less than the 50 000 received at the same time last year.  To date, 11 438 local and 326 international acceptance offers have been made to prospective students. Initial admission offers are based on Grade 11 results, where Grade 12 results are not yet available.

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777