The Covid-19 pandemic compelled us to change the 2020 academic calendar and this is in turn impacts on the 2021 calendar, resembling the domino effect where one change activates a chain reaction.

Click here to see the full 2021 calendar.

For the first time, the NWU’s academic year (2020) will stretch from one year into the following year for a limited number of identified modules. This is of course due to the pandemic overturning our well-laid plans and schedules for 2020.


eish! spoke to NWU registrar Prof Marlene Verhoef about the effect this has had on the 2021 academic calendar, which Council approved on 10 September 2020.


Q: Why was it necessary to change the academic year calendar for 2021?

A: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we had to change the calendar for 2020. Among the changes was a last assessment period running from 5 to 15 January 2021, which influenced the 2021 calendar.


Q: Will the 2021 calendar deviate a lot from what we are used to?

A: No, not really. There will still be two semesters and mid-semester and end-semester assessment periods. The biggest change is that the first semester will start later than usual.


Q: Will we continue with online classes next year?

A: In all probability, keeping in mind the resurgence of the virus in other parts of the world, there will be a blended approach to teaching-learning, what we refer to as a “limited contact teaching-learning modality”. This means certain classes will be online, some in contact or face-to-face mode, and others a combination of contact and online.


Q: When will classes start in 2021?

A: For returning students, the first semester will start on 15 February 2021 and for first-year students it will start on 17 March 2021.


The first period after the arrival of the first years will be occupied by the Reception and Orientation programme which will also have a different look.


Q: Why are the first years only arriving in March?

A: This is due to the delayed announcement of the 2020 matric exam results. These are normally announced during the first week of January, but now they will only be released on 23 February 2021. This is a result of the 2020 Grade 12 exams starting later than usual.


Q: When must NWU staff return to work in 2021?

A: As usual, the university will officially close on 24 December this year, and reopen on 4 January 2021. Staff have to return to work on that day, unless they take leave.


academic calendar:

doing things differently

Prof Marlene Verhoef is the registrar of the NWU.