NMU to extend academic year, start 2021 classes in March

The new academic year at Nelson Mandela University looks set to begin in March 2021.
The new academic year at Nelson Mandela University looks set to begin in March 2021.

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 completion.

The university’s executive committee of Senate approved a revised academic calendar at the end of July, which will see the first semester conclude on September 23. The second semester start on September 28 and most of the teaching will be concluded on December 18.

Experiential learning activities, revision sessions and summer schools will be held in early January to help 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 about various scenarios to counter the affect of the Covid-19 pandemic, ensure the overall safety of students and staff, and provide learning opportunities to every student enrolled for the 2020 academic year.

All these plans have been in line with the national regulations, the university said in a statement on Wednesday.

Nelson Mandela University registrar 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 involve some contact in venues that are Covid-19 compliant and in an environment that requires everyone to wear face masks and practise physical distancing and health hygiene behaviours, the university said.

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 assessment, where reassessments and assignments are the main methods of evaluation.

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, the university said.

That 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,”  the university said.

— HeraldLIVE

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