University students getting better marks during Covid-19 than in past years - Nzimande

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Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande.
Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande.
  • The academic year for universities is expected to start in March next year.
  • Only 10 universities are set to complete the 2020 academic year in December.
  • Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has written to universities with a proposed CPI-linked fee increase of 4.7% on tuition and 6.7% on accommodation.

Several universities have seen better academic performances by students during the Covid-19 pandemic, compared to previous years.

This is according to Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, who briefed the media on Thursday about the progress made by institutions of higher learning during the pandemic. 

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"It is illuminating to note that a number of universities are pointing to better student performance in comparison to previous years. We have interrogated the reasons for this performance and found multiple contributing factors so there is good news from this cloud," said Nzimande.

He said that there needed to be more analysis on the matter, but that initial research done pointed towards the blended model of learning and multiple assessment methods, among other things. 

"It is clear from this that the one lesson we can learn is that blended learning and multi-modal learning must become a standard part for the future higher education system," he said adding that he would set up a ministerial task team to make online learning a permanent feature.

Nzimande, however, also noted that some students from historically black institutions and those from working-class families had battled with online learning.


The minister said that his department had been working on a policy to regulate fee increases, and that some universities were looking into rebates for students who did not occupy residences for a long period of time.

He said:

"I have written to all university councils with a proposal for a CPI (Consumer Price Index) linked fee increase for 2021. This would be a 4.7% increase on tuition fees and 6.7% on accommodation in line with previous years."

The University of the Free State also held a briefing on Thursday on its Covid-19 progress and plans. University vice-chancellor Prof Francis Petersen noted that their budget issues.  


"We had to adjust our budget in 2020 due to the fact that there were unexpected expenditure but also that funding that comes through our funding resources our income streams hasn't realized the way one had thought it would," said Peterson.

Meanwhile, Nzimande said that 10 universities would finish their academic year in 2020. NFSAS funded students who needed to complete their studies into 2021 would receive living allowances.

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"I am pleased to indicate that additional living allowances to cover meals and personal expenses will be made available for those qualifying university students who require additional months to complete their academic year," said Nzimade, who also warned students to use the money wisely. 

"Please this money is only for meals and personal expenses and not for others things I shall not name. We urge students to use this money wisely and responsibly because it's their future  - you spend it wrongly you, destroy your future."

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