The list: Important dates for South African universities in 2021

Student protests, increasing Covid infections and administrative issues have affected registration and the start of the 2021 academic year for many universities. This is an updated list of opening and closing dates for South Africa’s public universities. 

The Daily Vox has reached out to all 26 public universities and the piece will be updated as responses are received. 

Read more: The list: Opening dates for South African universities in 2021

Vaal University of Technology (VUT)

Teaching and learning at VUT commenced through remote teaching in April 2021. There was an enrollment of 17975 students. End dates for the first semester and start dates for the second semester are currently awaiting approval. At the institutional level, the university has put in place measures to safeguard students and staff. On the return to work under the adjusted level 1 only 70% of staff are allowed on campus on a rotational basis.

Stellenbosch University

Classes for undergraduate students at Stellenbosch started on March 15. The 2021 registration process took place between January 18 and March 31. The initial undergraduate closing date was set for March 11 and was subsequently extended to March 26 to align with the national call. The current (unaudited) registration total is 32197. The first semester started on March 15 and will end on July 24, and the second semester starts on August 10. Important information for students is available on the university’s dedicated Covid-19 website.

University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN)

UKZN has a total registration figure of 88%. Any student who has already commenced their online registration process will be assisted to conclude that process. All teaching and learning is being undertaken remotely and online until further notice, with the exception of necessary laboratory work, teaching and clinical practicals. UKZN is expected to conclude the first semester on July 3 with the second semester commencing on August 2. The expected end date for lectures for 2021 is November 5. Only registered students are invited to return and only those with 2021 UKZN Access permits are allowed onto campus.

Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU)

The SMU senate approved the extension of registration date for both undergraduate and postgraduate students to March 26. The period March 29-31 was set aside for late registration for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. April 23 is the closing date for late registration for all undergraduate and postgraduate students and confirmation to write May/June examinations by postgraduate students. 

University of Pretoria (UP)

UP’s academic year started on March 15. In line with Covid-19 regulations, UP student registrations for the 2021 academic year were fully online. Approximately 10000 first year students were registered. The first semester will end on July 5. The second semester starts on  August 16 and will end on December 15.

Sol Plaatje University (SPU)

SPU commenced classes on March 29. It had an online registration process. To date it has registered 2685 students. The first semester will end on July 30 and the second semester will commence on August 10. SPU has instituted an institutional curfew of 10pm along with a poster campaign around the wearing of masks and frequent sanitising.

North-West University (NWU)

The academic year for returning students already started on February 15, and for first-year students on March 17. The closing date for registrations was extended to ensure students, especially those with outstanding financial issues, had the opportunity to register. Registrations closed on April 9. NWU has more than 38000 registered contact students. 

The first semester of the academic year will end in mid June and the second semester will conclude in mid November. NWU has developed a range of Covid-19 protocols which are constantly published on the university’s Covid-19 page

Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT)

CPUT has been open and operating since January with many students commencing classes in February. Some first year courses commenced in March. The second semester started on April 12. CPUT is COVID-free at the moment due to stringent protocols and a dedicated COVID-19 Health Cluster.

Tshwane University of Technology (TUT)

At TUT the 2021 academic year for all students commenced on April 12. The first semester will end on July 2. The second semester will run from August 23 to November 19. To allow for an orderly return of students only first-year students and students with disabilities reported at the various campuses on April 12. Strict COVID-19 protocols will remain in place to ensure the safety of these students and staff members. Returning students (senior students) will be advised as to the relevant return dates as soon as possible and will in the interim commence the new academic year online.

University of Cape Town (UCT)

UCT’s lectures commenced on March 15. The First-Year Campus Reception (FYCR) programme helped students with issuing student cards, handing over laptops to students who choose to opt in to the UCT laptop scheme, and offering health screening. UCT has enrolled about 4200 first-time entering students. The first term will end on April 30 and the second term is due to start on May 10. The UCT leadership has made progress on addressing the need for additional study spaces on campus in compliance with COVID-19 protocols. UCT will introduce study spaces for day students from April 19 until December 24. 

University of Johannesburg (UJ)

Registrations of new and returning students proceeded smoothly according to the university. The academic activities for senior students started on February 15 and first year students was on March 8. All teaching and learning has been conducted online. Only students enrolled for modules that require in person contact provision, such as laboratory or clinical work, experiential learning, etc., are done on campus in contact mode.

University of Limpopo (UL)

UL is open for 2021 academic year. The registration process took place online and remotely. First-Year Student were 4486 by April 16 when the registration closed. That represents 87% of the initially expected. The first semester is scheduled to end July 21 and second semester is scheduled to start on August 10.

Students’ presence on campus is tightly controlled and only those students who have to be repatriated are invited. Teaching is taking place through multi-modal platforms. Students should not hesitate to contact their faculties immediately they encounter challenges regarding their teaching and learning activities.

University of the Fort Hare (UFH)

Teaching and learning commenced on April 6 at UFH, and it is being taught and presented online. Student registration at all three of the campuses in Alice, Bhisho and East London ran smoothly. To date, UFH has achieved a 93% student registration target, and post-graduate registration remains open until a later stage of the year.  The first semester started on March 29 and ends on June 25.  The second semester will commence form August 10 until November 2. 

The Daily Vox has reached out to all 26 public universities and the piece will be updated as responses are received. 

Featured image by Ra’eesa Pather