South African Universities And The COVID-19 Lockdown

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Happy Wednesday Daily Vox readers!

The Wednesday edition of the Top of the Vox is here to give you all the student and university related news that you need to know. If you have any burning questions or even a story idea related to students, universities and higher education, drop us an email or get in touch via our social media channels. We are going to be covering the latest students news with a sprinkle of great opportunities for students.  

With the rising number of cases of COVID-19 in South Africa, this has been the main issue dominating the higher education sector this week. On Monday, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced a complete 21 day lockdown.  

Check out this handy list of numbers needed for the lockdown.

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Latest from NSFAS

Students wishing to get in touch with Nsfas should use online platforms such as NSFAS Connect, email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  

Also an IMPORTANT REMAINDER: The closing date for  NSFAS appeals has been extended. Students at universities have until March 20 to submit their Appeals. Students studying at TVET Colleges have up until March 31 to appeal. 

To access your funding progress through your MyNSFAS account, you are required to register or re-register a myNSFAS account on http://nsfas.org.za 

What’s happening on campuses? 

Following president Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Sunday, March 15, that the country is in a state of natural disaster, many universities have had to reconsider their operations. Ramaphosa announced that schools would be closing but left the decision around the running of universities to the department of higher education, and training, science and technology. Minister Blade Nzimande announced on March 17 the plans for institutions of higher learning. 

It was announced that post-school institutions will be closed for early recess with effect from March 18. This included the normal planned institutional breaks. Wits university had already announced an early recess following the testing of a positive COVID-19 case at the university. The university also announced that they would be asking all students to vacate their residences within 72 hours. 

Last week Wits University students raised concerns about the university not providing alternative accommodation due to the COVID-19 evacuations. The university announced that it had made special arrangements for students. 

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and the state of natural disaster declared in South Africa, Wits University made the decision to evacuate all residences. However, the decision has been met with unhappiness by many students. 

On Sunday, Wits said all the residence students had left the campuses except those with special arrangements who would be leaving by Monday, March 23. A letter from the campus housing previously advised students that March 19 would be their last day to vacate the residences. The letter went on to say that all services to the residences will be stopped due to the university closing its doors. The letter says that a failure to comply would result in a breach of university regulations.

A Wits student had told The Daily Vox that while all the students are aware that the evacuation needs to happen, there are problems that are being ignored. The student said many international students do not have anywhere to go and do not have the resources to find somewhere else to stay. With the travel ban put in place by the president, the students would not be able to travel home. According to the student, the university said they would assist students who didn’t have anywhere else to go. 

On Thursday evening, students were informed that they would be provided with alternative housing and no one would be evicted. 

Following that initial evacuation decision, two Wits students took the university to court to extend the period of evacuation. This case was reserved judgement by the court with the judge reportedly imploring the applicants and all students to comply with the directives of the president, the World Health Organization and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD). Wits University said: “We are disappointed that the Court did not award costs against the applicants in a context where their conduct has not only been frivolous and reckless, but resulted in the University having to expend unnecessary resources in legal proceedings.” 

Last week Monday, the university of Cape Town (UCT) announced the university would be closing. This was after a member of staff had tested positive. There are currently four reported cases of COVID-19 at the university. The student representative council (SRC) initially raised concerns about the vacating of residences. There were calls for students to “occupy the residences, not vacate.” However, this was later retracted by the SRC leader who said students should follow the directives of the university. 

UCT announced they would be helping students through the immediate payment of allowances for all students on financial aid, liaising with the Department of Home Affairs in cases involving international students, securing safe storage for students’ belongings and working with external agencies on travel plans for students. They’ve also chartered buses to transport students to the different metros.

Check out OUR COVERAGE of how universities within South Africa and around the world are dealing with COVID-19.  

If you’re getting bogged down by all the information out on the internet, FATIMA MOOSA has PUT TOGETHER an easy myth-buster around COVID-19. 

Here’s how to help the VULNERABLE PEOPLE in your community during the lockdown. 

Since you’re going to be spending quite a bit of time at home, you might as well start making your space more liveable. SHAAZIA EBRAHIM has some ideas. 

Some great opportunities

MALAYSIA: Albukhary International University Scholarship

The Albukhary International University (AIC) in Malaysia is offering undergraduate scholarships to international students who wish to study at AIC from September 2020. Applicants must be between the age of 18 and 22 years old at the time of commencing their scholarship. The applicants need to come from a low income status and must be a single marital status. [Deadline before May 2020] Find more details here.

UNITED STATES: Fulbright Foreign Student Program 2021-2022 

The Fulbright Foreign Student Scholarship is the flagship international education exchange programme sponsored by the Government of the United States of America. The scholarship is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries through educational, cultural and professional exchanges. [Deadline before April 20 2020] Find more details here

NEW ZEALAND: Commonwealth Scholarship 2021. 

The New Zealand Government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), is offering full postgraduate scholarships to international students who wish to study at any of the eleven New Zealand universities and education institutions in 2021. [Deadline is March 31 2020] Find out more details here.

MAURITIUS: Mauritius-Africa Scholarship Scheme 2020

As part of a commitment to promote capacity-building at high level across the continent, the government of Mauritius is awarding scholarships to deserving students who are resident citizens of member states of the African Union or of African Commonwealth countries for full-time, on-campus undergraduate and postgraduate programmes tenable in public Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Mauritius. [August intake deadline is March 31 2020] Find more details here

If you know of any good scholarships and opportunities for students, please drop us an email and let us know. We can’t wait to hear from you. 

FAQs

If you have any urgent questions related to Nsfas or to universities, we’ve answered them here.

No Late Applications To Be Accepted

Everything You Need To Know About NSFAS 2020

However, if you have a question that we have not answered, let us know and we will try to find you an answer. 

See you next week and remember to WASH YOUR HANDS, reach out to vulnerable people in your community, and be safe during the lockdown. 

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