University students expected back on campus as early as June

Universities will welcome students back on campus and residencies as early as two weeks after the country shifts to Level 3 lockdown restrictions. This is according to Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande, who held a press briefing on Saturday.


South Africa is expected to ease social distancing regulations at the start of June and, since hard lockdown was lifted, only final-year medical students were allowed back on campus.

How universities will operate under Level 3


Meanwhile, some students have made use of remote learning via online platforms made available by their respective universities.


With Level 3 restrictions set to come into place from 1 June at the earliest, Nzimande said universities will allow time for students to travel to their respective campuses before the academic year resumes. This may take up to three weeks after the implementation of less stringent lockdown regulations.


According to the ministers, only a third of students will be allowed back on campus and residencies at a time.


"Under level 2, a maximum of 66% of the student population will return to campus for teaching, learning and assessment in line with the set criteria. Under level 1, it is expected that 100% of the student population should return to campus. We are therefore going to require the strictest enforcement of physical distancing and health protocols," he added. Blade Nzimande

Who will be allowed back on campus?


The groups that will be permitted to return to campus include the following;

  1. All groups that have already returned during alert level 4. 

  2. Students in the final year of their programmes, who are on a path to graduating in 2020 may return. [*]Final year students who require access to laboratories, technical equipment, data, connectivity and access to residence and private accommodation should return. [*]Students in all years of study that require clinical training in their programmes (provided that the clinical training platforms have sufficient space and can accommodate them while adhering to the safety protocols). [*]Post Graduate students who require laboratory equipment and other technical equipment to undertake their studies. 

Nzimande added that universities will be allowed to consider other categories, mainly students likely to face difficulties with home learning.


"When a district moves to Level 3 of the strategy, then the reintegration of the next group of students to return to campuses located in that district will take place. So for example, if in a particular district Level 3 is announced to begin on 1 June 2020, then institutions where campuses are located in that district will recall students, in line with the following criteria, to start their contact tuition two to three weeks after the announcement, depending on readiness and capacity of each institution."Blade Nzimande


Nzimande added that institutions will be allowed to deviate from the criteria, but after approval from the Department of Higher Education and Training.