Pretoria – Students at the University of Pretoria and Tshwane University of Technology yesterday joined their counterparts from other institutions of higher learning and started returning to campuses.
This followed the announcement by Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Dr Blade Nzimande for university and college students to return to their institutions.
Nzimande said the decision to allow all students to return to their campuses followed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that the country was now at lockdown level 1.
He said the return of students to their tertiary institutions would be subject to restrictions linked to their own risk assessment due to their local context and conditions.
Tertiary institutions would now be able to accommodate 50% of students in their respective residences, he said.
However, University of Pretoria spokesperson Rikus Delport said the institution had opted to continue with mainly online classes as the main mode of teaching and learning during the current semester, which ends on November 13.
He said the university would be prioritising final-year and post- graduate students who required access to laboratories, technical equipment, studios and other facilities on campus in order to complete their courses. This would also include first-year and other students who were experiencing difficulties with internet connectivity or the necessary access to internet-enabled devices
The final batch would be students whose home environments were not conducive to studying; these will also be permitted to return to campus, Delport added.
At the Tshwane University of Technology’s (TUT) Soshanguve campus, students were seen making their way on to campus with groceries and other items.
Security is keeping a tight watch ensuring that everyone wears a mask and observes physical distancing.
Kgopotse “Tiny” Molautsi, a third-year textile design student at the university’s arts campus, said adjusting to the “new normal was not easy in the beginning”.
Molautsi said she and her family were eager for her to return to campus as she was not managing with online teaching as her course involved a lot of physical work.
“I returned on September 14 and it was not easy; it takes some getting used to being apart from your friends, not hanging out in large groups, and doing things as we used to.
“But everyone is co-operating and understands why we need to keep up with the rules. It’s become easier the longer we do this and my family is just eager for me to finish.”
Tshwane University of Technology had yet to comment on its back-to-campus plans by late yesterday.