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GPSOPA19: Student’s expectations ahead of SOPA 2019

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The State of the Nation Address set out to address the issues affecting South Africa as a whole, one which works based on the collaboration of the country’s government to move it forward.

Now we gear up for the provincial government to address citizens on how its contribution in aiding with the pressing issues within each province will serve to uplift and develop the people, various institutions and the economy.

Earlier this year, Gauteng Premier David Makhura announced that underused government buildings will be converted into student accommodation at universities and colleges in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Most of the issues raised by students center around the student accommodation.

These were among the issues raised and that students expect the premier to touch on during his address:

  • Students are still without funding and for some of those who have access to funding, funding is not enough to cover their educational expenses.
  • Students are still sleeping in libraries due to lack of accommodation
  • A concerning percentage of Students who have graduated are still without jobs
  • A lot of degrees offered to students are theory focused and offer little or no practical or work experience
  • Student’s traveling from far due to the lack of student residents.
  • Students looking for companies and private sectors that cater to different fields to collaborate with institutions for work experience and skills training purposes.
  • A sufficient number of “A” students from the secondary level are unable to register to study at varsity, even though they do qualify.
  • The inability of university degrees to prepare them for the workplace.
  • In every field, students should be exposed to the possibilities and successes of venturing into entrepreneurship within their field of study.

The SOPA will take place on the 1st of July 2019 at the Univerisity of Johannesburg, Soweto Campus. The Premier of Gauteng, David Makhura will be addressing the province about the plans set out by the government to grow the greater Gauteng.

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Universities

Universities with rising Covid-19 cases will be shut down

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IMAGE: @GovernmentZA (Twitter)

Higher Education Science and Innovation Minister Dr Blade Nzimande revealed that the rising Covid-19 cases within universities are a cause for concern as this will lead the department to shut down these universities.

During a briefing on the reopening of universities, the Minister mentioned that there were 3888 confirmed positive cases. The department’s duty will be to closely monitor universities to ensure that both students and staff are safe.

Minister Nzimande also mentioned that the department is expecting to receive statics this week which will determine the action the department should take in terms of allowing students and staff access to universities.

“In universities, there were positive cases that were reported of about 3 888 with 1 499 staff and 1 588 students. The total number of deaths by 13 November was 58 – 48 staff, 10 students. As I’m saying, we will be receiving updated reports on infections and fatalities on the 20th of this month and we want to make it clear that if we identify that there is a rapid increase in particular institutions or campuses of infections, we will close those institutions, no doubt about that. ”

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Universities

The ups and downs of the 2021 academic year

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Universities are preparing to begin the 2021 academic year. This has however been met with challenges as some universities had to lower their first-year intake.

The University of South Africa (UNISA) lowered its first-year intake by 20 000 to ensure sustainability. Another reason was due to the inability of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme ( NSFAS) to meet the high demands.

This decision has received backlash as a lot of student hopefuls won’t be receiving access to study.

The University has said that this move was necessary and it also follows an order from Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, which serves to prevent the university from experiencing a backlog when the academic year starts in March.

“From what I can gather, the minister’s question to limit Unisa’s intake is really to bring it back into its enrollment planning. What that means is that Unisa will be in a position where it is admitting 20,000 fewer students this year and that, of course, has consequences in terms of access.”, said Universities South Africa CEO Ahmed Bawa.

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UKZN halts re-opening for the year 2021

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As Institutions of Higher learning are preparing to re-open for the 2021 academic year, they are also looking into unpacking the implications of new COVID-19 regulations.

The University of Kwazulu-Natal postponed its re-opening on January 4 until January 18. According to the university’s spokesperson Normah Zondo, the university decided to suspend its reopening due to that, “both the district municipalities within which UKZN campuses are located have been declared Covid-19 hotspots.”

The university will revisit this decision once further directives are given by the President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande.

It was further stated that the University will continue with its academic activities online and that registration processes will take place online, commencing on the 18th of January.

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