Coronavirus: NWU communiques

NWU communiques regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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24 August 2021: Attention students - Covid-19 vaccinations at NWU over the coming weekends

24 August 2021

Dear NWU student,

As of 20 August, people between the ages of 18 and 34 could also register on the National Department of Health Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS). Your registration will avoid any additional administrative processes at the vaccination site(s). Those who may encounter difficulties with the registration on EVDS can be assisted at the vaccination site(s).

If you registered using your campus/campus town address, you would most likely have received an sms inviting you to a specific vaccination centre on a specific date. These would in all probability indicate the following sites:

Mahikeng Campus – Mahikeng Provincial Hospital

Potchefstroom Campus – Witrand Psychiatric Hospital

Vanderbijlpark Campus – Sharpeville Community Centre

The NWU sites are outreach centres of these sites, and therefore you can report to our sites directly to receive your vaccination, according to the dates below.

Please note that the EDVS system may also have allocated you to another site but you can still use one of our sites as the national system allows all registered persons to be vaccinated at any site. 

Medical experts advise that the Covid-19 vaccination reduces the severity of the disease, duration of hospitalisation and mortality, particularly for those with comorbidities. All Covid-19 protocols – including wearing a mask, hand hygiene, and physical/social distancing – must still be adhered to, even after being vaccinated.   

Please take note of the NWU’s stance on the vaccination of staff and students against Covid-19 as well as other important information, including side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine, on the university’s Covid-19 web page.

Mahikeng Campus

27 and 28 August from 08:00 to 16:00

Vaccination site: Great Hall

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be administered on this campus.

Potchefstroom Campus

27 August from 14:00 to 17:00 (Only for persons who have to receive their second Pfizer jab, thus no students)

28 and 29 August from 07:30 to 17:00

Vaccination site: Dampad dining hall behind Veritas men's residence, and please only make use of the Gerrit Dekker entrance.

On Saturday and Sunday, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be administered on this campus. In order to accommodate the numbers, only students residing in on-campus residences should arrive this coming weekend. Those residing in off-campus residences or who are staying in private accommodation, will be accommodated during the weekend of 4 and 5 September.   

Vanderbijlpark Campus

Negotiations with the Gauteng Department of Health have been finalised and this site will open for 4 and 5 September and 11 and 12 September in the old Admin building (Building 24). Further information regarding operating times will be communicated next week. In all probability the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be administered here. Due to limited capacity, this site will not be open to members of the public. In order to accommodate the numbers, students residing in on-campus residences will be accommodated on 4 and 5 September, and those residing in off-campus residences or who are staying in private accommodation, will be accommodated during the weekend of 11 and 12 September.

 The following are important on the day of your vaccination:

  • Complete the NWU Daily Screening App to allow you access to the campus;
  • Identity document. You will not receive your vaccination without it;
  • Medical aid: please have your medical aid number available if you belong to a medical aid scheme, and
  • The registration SMS; this is the SMS you receive once you have registered on the EVDS.

We look forward to welcome you at our vaccination sites. Please remember that no one is compelled to get vaccinated, however, as per the advice of medical experts, it is crucial for the management of Covid-19 effects.

 

Please take care and be safe.

23 August 2021: The North-West University’s (NWU) stance on the vaccination of employees and students against Covid-19

  • We are committed towards curbing the spread of Covid-19; thus, we continue to invest significant resources in our response measures.
  • We subscribe to the national government’s drive for mass vaccination and we are implementing direct access to all employees, students and all stakeholders to vaccines in our accredited vaccination facilities.
  • We respect the constitutional rights of individuals, such as the right to bodily integrity and right to freedom of religion, belief and opinion as per the Constitution and as these pertain to bodily and psychological integrity and the right to make individual decisions. 
  • We would not compel any employee or student to be vaccinated at this stage. Meanwhile, we would participate in the development of a sectoral best-practice stance towards ensuring the health and safety to those members who have already been vaccinated and those who would soon be vaccinated. We might, in future, put appropriate measures in place to those who choose not to be vaccinated. 
  • We offer health-care services at all our campuses to provide information, advice and health-care services to any employee and student of the university.

We know that there are various views regarding Covid-19 vaccinations. We urge our stakeholders to avoid reacting on rumours and news from sources other than the official NWU statements. 

Only inquiries directed to the official Covid-19 inquiry e-mail line would receive attention.

The information on the official NWU Covid-19 website is updated regularly and contains the official stance of the university. Therefore, no support would be given to staff and students who engage in direct communication with members of the public. 

We are aware that the national vaccination roll-out process is a dynamic process that requires continuous adjustment as the situation evolves. Therefore, the NWU would update the statement from time to time as and when developments occur.

North-West University Management
 

19 August 2021: Get your Covid-19 vaccination at an NWU site

Dear NWU student,

On 25 July 2021 President Ramaphosa announced that government will allow people between the ages of 18 and 34 to be vaccinated, effective from 1 September 2021. However, this date has changed and all indications are that persons within this age group will be able to register as of later today, or tomorrow. This will require registration on the National Department of Health Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS ).

We are delighted that many of our students fall within this group, thus, they will be able to register and be vaccinated. I urge you to register on the EVDS as soon as it opens for this age group. Your registration will avoid any additional administrative processes at the vaccination site(s). Those who may encounter difficulties with the registration on EVDS can be assisted at the vaccination site(s).

Medical experts advise that the Covid-19 vaccination reduces the severity of the disease, duration of hospitalisation and mortality, particularly for those with comorbidities. All Covid-19 protocols – including wearing a mask, hand hygiene, and physical/social distancing – must still be adhered to, even after being vaccinated.  

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, approximately 639 cases of NWU students who had tested positive for Covid-19 were reported. Approximately 1900 NWU students were reported to have been in contact with Covid-19 positive persons. Sadly, we have also lost three NWU students due to Covid-19-related complications.

It is expected that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will be administered at all our vaccination sites.  Even though two of our sites have already been open over weekends as from 16 July, there is no need to rush to these, as ample opportunities will be available for students.  Details in this regard will be communicated soon.

In order for us to prepare and plan for the expected number of students who want to receive the vaccination, we urge you to please complete a short questionnaire. This questionnaire can be accessed either by

  1. dialling *134*695*1*52# or,
  2. visiting this link: https://bit.ly/3Ax05Ro.

Please note that the questionnaire will only be accessible until 12:00 on Monday, 23 August 2021. Your responses to the questionnaire will be processed, and you will receive information about when and where to report for your vaccination.
The following are important on the day of your vaccination:

  • omplete the NWU Daily Screening App to allow you access to the campus
  • Identity document. You will not receive your vaccination without it
  • Medical aid: please have your medical aid number available if you belong to a medical aid scheme; and
  • The registration SMS; this is the SMS you receive once you have registered on the EVDS

We look forward to welcome you at our vaccination sites. Please remember that no one is compelled to get vaccinated, however, as per the advice of medical experts, it is crucial for the management of Covid-19 effects.

We are hopeful that we will be able to introduce more student activities on our campuses, while complying to national regulations on Covid-19.
Please take care and be safe.

Kind regards
Prof Dan Kgwadi
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

 

26 July 2021: Impact of adjusted Lockdown level 3 as announced

Dear staff and students

Based on the announcement by the President on 25 July 2021, taking the country to an adjusted lockdown level 3, all arrangements in my communique dated 14 July 2021 remain in place.

Online classes for the second semester will commence on 29 July and we encourage our students to actively participate in the online programme and the continuous assessment opportunities from the start of the semester. Unless otherwise agreed upon by your faculty, we require that students return to campus even for the online programme, because the university is better able to support your teaching-learning on one of its three campuses and to maintain a programme of academic and student life that contributes to your academic success. It is important to note that General Academic Rule 1.12 requires of students to attend classes, and this rule is as important for online classes as for face-to-face teaching-learning interventions.

To ensure sufficient support in the teaching-learning environment, faculties are allowed to enforce this rule (especially for students at risk of failing the academic year). Being on campus is especially relevant where programmes require small group sessions, laboratory, workshop, practical or placement type experience and where students are required to be on campus by their respective faculties. This remains of course subject to further announcements from Government.

Please also note that based on academic performance at the end of semester 1, 2021, we may require all at-risk students to return for contact interventions. Communication in this regard will come from the respective faculties.

We recognise that our current situation and the accompanying uncertainty, is causing a lot of stress for students and academics alike, but we remain focussed on doing everything possible to ensure the successful completion of the 2021 academic programme. In doing so, we always have to keep in mind the health and safety of all NWU stakeholders.

We are also pleased with the fact that vaccination for those 18 years and older will commence on 1 September. Our students are encouraged to register on the National Department of Health Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS) as soon as it opens for this age group. Further information in this regard will follow. Serious consideration should be given to taking the decision on whether or not you want to be vaccinated. Please constantly keep in mind your safety, as well as that of those around you.

 

Please take care.

Regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

14 July 2021: Impact of extended Lockdown level 4 announcement

Dear staff and students

Based on the announcement by the President on 11 July 2021, indicating the extension of lockdown level 4 for another two weeks until 25 July, all arrangements in my communique dated 29 June 2021 remain in place .

Online classes for the second semester will commence on 29 July and we encourage our students to actively participate in the online programme and the continuous assessment opportunities from the start of the semester. Unless otherwise agreed upon by your faculty, we require that students return to campus even for the online programme, because the university is better able to support your teaching-learning on one of its three campuses and to maintain a programme of academic and student life that contributes to your academic success. It is important to note that General Academic Rule 1.12 requires of students to attend classes, and this rule is as important for online classes as for face-to-face teaching-learning interventions.

To ensure sufficient support in the teaching-learning environment, faculties are allowed to enforce this rule (especially for students at risk of failing the academic year). Being on campus is especially relevant where programmes require small group sessions, laboratory, workshop, practical or placement type experience and where students are required to be on campus by their respective faculties. This is of course subject to further announcements from Government.

Please also note that based on academic performance at the end of semester 1, 2021, we may require all at-risk students to return for contact interventions (subject of course to the national conditions pertaining to Covid-19 in its third wave). Communication in this regard will come from the respective faculties at a later date.

We recognise that our current situation and the accompanying uncertainty, is causing a lot of stress for students and academics alike, but we remain focussed on doing everything possible to ensure the successful completion of the 2021 academic programme. In doing so, we always have to keep in mind the health and safety of all NWU stakeholders.

Further information on the planning for the continuation of the second semester on 29 July will be made available as soon as possible.

Please take care and protect yourself and those around you.

Regards
Prof Dan Kgwadi
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

29 June 2021: Impact of Lockdown level 4 announcement

Dear staff and students

The announcement by the President on 27 June 2021, automatically has an impact on the way in which we proceed with our current assessment period.

As you were informed on Monday, 28 June, all sit-down assessments scheduled for 28/29 June continued as planned. All online assessments scheduled for the remainder of the 2021 first semester will also continue as planned. Any other teaching-learning related activity already scheduled, continues online. Where face-to-face contact classes were previously scheduled, students are advised to contact their lecturers and to be alert to notices placed on the relevant module page on eFundi. This will remain in place for the duration of the lockdown period announced as per the adjusted level 4 regulations.

The following protocols are put in place to ensure the continuity of our academic programme for the next two weeks:

  1. Regarding sit-down assessments that are scheduled from 30 June 2021 to 8 July 2021, the following arrangements may apply:
  • Where possible, these will be changed to take place as online assessments, and if not possible, these will be deferred to another date and time, also keeping in mind certain requirements from statutory bodies and as communicated to affected students by the relevant faculties; and 
  • Online options for further assessment opportunities originally scheduled as sit-down assessments, will also be explored, and the particulars of these opportunities will also be communicated to students by faculties well in advance.
  1. Students who need to do laboratory assessments and those in the clinical environment who need to perform work-integrated learning opportunities across the country at external institutions, must await further guidance from their respective faculties.
  2. Researchers, including postgraduate research students and postdoctoral fellows, should continue with their on-campus execution of projects and experiments, and adhere to established protocols and the curfew when continuing with their work.
  3. All staff members should, as far as possible, continue to work from home, but are urged to maintain service delivery standards under the work-from-home protocols. Line managers should ensure that we reach our deliverables and maintain the requisite service-delivery levels in delivering the necessary support, especially during the assessment period.
  4. Residences will remain open under the current situation but students will be allowed to return to their homes if they wish to do so. Students who leave for the recess, must lock all their belongings in their cupboards, empty all perishable items from the fridges and ensure that their names are attached to their belongings that are not locked away. All students who remain in residences during the July recess period, will be expected to accept the latest generic guidelines for student life, and residence and catering environments by signing the acceptance form and submitting it to the residence staff. As in the past, this forms part of the measures put in place to ensure Covid-19 compliance. 
  5. Employees and postgraduate students who would need to cross the Gauteng border for work and fieldwork research purposes and who would need to work during the curfew hours (21:00-04:00) must make an application for a permit through the office of their relevant University Management Committee member.


We recognise that our current situation and the accompanying uncertainty, is causing a lot of stress for students and academics alike, but we remain focussed on doing everything possible to ensure the successful completion of the academic programme for the first semester. In doing so, we always have to keep in mind the health and safety of all NWU stakeholders.

We shall share any new information with you immediately when it becomes available. This includes further announcements by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation which are expected soon, as well as that of the President on the way forward after 11 July. Information on the planning for the continuation of the second semester on 29 July will also be made available shortly.

Please take care and protect yourself and those around you.

Regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

21 June 2021: Measures to protect our staff and students against Covid-19

Dear staff and students

Seen against the background of the rapid rising Covid-19 figures across our campuses and my communique in this regard dated Friday, 18 June 2021, herewith the following measures to be implemented with immediate effect:

  • All NWU staff who do not need to be physically on campus, should as from tomorrow, 22 Jun work from home until further notice, and
  • Students who do not need to be on campus and have finished their assessments, should as far as possible return home. This does not apply to students who have been identified and informed to attend sit-down assessments.

 

The above measures are put in place not only to protect our staff, students and other NWU stakeholders, but also to ensure that we can successfully complete the first academic semester of 2021. Staff members are urged to maintain our service delivery under the work-from-home protocols and line managers should ensure that we reach our deliverables.

Students should liaise with house parents and staff with their immediate supervisors, should there be any uncertainty.  

The situation will be closely monitored and any new developments will be communicated timeously, especially with regard to the planned commencement of the second semester on 29 July.

As I have indicated on numerous occasions, all possible measures are in place from management’s side, but we need your cooperation to curb the spread of the virus.

Please take care of yourself and those around you. Remember the NWU cares.

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

 

18 June 2021: Queries relating to the commencement and continuation of scheduled sit-down assessments under the adjusted alert level 3 lockdown

Dear student,

Recent queries relating to the commencement and continuation of scheduled sit-down assessments have come to our attention. The purpose of this communication is in the first instance to provide assurance of the diligent approach of the NWU towards you and your fellow students safety during these assessments and secondly to remove any uncertainty, if any, with regard to the continuation of the scheduled assessment until further notice.

Notwithstanding the President's statement on 15 June 2021 regarding the nation's reversion to adjusted alert level 3 lockdown, the general national response and alert levels are subject to the more specific directions of the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation dated 29 March 2021, and which remain applicable in our context. In this regard, please also refer to my communique dated 3 June 2021.

The university has committed to sit-down assessments for a number of programmes so as to increase and improve the quality and the integrity of the assessments and/or to meet statutory body requirements where these have been communicated to the university. Similarly, remaining scheduled face-to-face small group teaching interventions, for semester 1, are to continue as these are scheduled specifically to enable students to complete the semester.

In order to reasonably provide safety assurance to students and also adhere to Covid-19 regulations, every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that students are socially distanced, venues are properly ventilated, sanitisation and cleaning processes are in place, in addition to the gate-screening and green-token processes. Adhering to national regulations as well as NWU protocols outside of university assessment venues, remains the same as it would be for students and staff entering any venue off-campus. These measures also include the compulsory wearing of masks, washing/sanitising of hands and all other measures advocated regularly during the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Should any student experience symptoms regarding illness and which may affect in-person attendance at an assessment or small group teaching intervention, these need to be reported immediately to the faculty concerned and the campus health care centres.

In regard of sit-down assessment opportunities, students concerned need to take note that for each scheduled module there are (as under normal conditions), two separate sit-down opportunities. Should a student not be able to sit for either the first or the second opportunity, proof of illness is to be submitted to the relevant lecturer as soon as is possible. The faculty will then liaise with the student concerned to make the needed additional assessment arrangements.

The university is monitoring closely the infection rates and has also taken advice on the matter. Should new regulations be published by the Department of Higher Education and Training, we will similarly take cognisance of these and you will be notified accordingly. We wish you all the best for the assessments to be conducted face-to-face or in the online context.

Study well and stay well.

Kind regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor


18 June 2021: Drastic measures to follow if the spread of Covid-19 across the NWU is not contained

Dear staff and students

In the communique of 17 May 2021, I pleaded with everyone to adhere to the national regulations and the NWU protocols due to an increase in the number of reported cases across our campuses. It is clear that non-adherence remains a problem since the cases continue to increase

During the past three weeks, the NWU recorded an increase of 157 new Covid-19 confirmed cases and more than 480 cases of persons who have been in contact with people who have tested positive. These figures are for staff, students (contact and distance), visitors and contractors. Sadly, we also lost nine members of the NWU family because of this pandemic.

We continue to ensure that all the necessary measures to manage the spread of Covid-19 are in place across our campuses. However, it appears that some of us do not appreciate the seriousness of this pandemic and still do not comply with the protocols and regulations. Regrettably, this risky behaviour will now result in more drastic measures being put in place particularly if there is no immediate improvement regarding compliance to protocols. The measures could include the closing of all residences and the suspension of all contact sessions for students including laboratory, workshop or practical sessions. This would be a sad day as the impact on the academic programme would be immense, something that we would want to avoid as far as possible. You may be aware that other universities have already ceased all campus activities and moved to online teaching and learning due to the increase in cases.

I have, on many occasions, reiterated that a zero-tolerance approach would be adopted when any of our stakeholders are found guilty of non-adherence to national regulations as well as NWU protocols. To date, 102 students have been found guilty on charges related to Covid-19 transgressions and have been sanctioned. The sanctions vary from written warnings, fines of up to R 1 000-00, community service and suspension from residences. Cases against 14 students are still pending. Two staff members were also charged. The case of one staff member is still in process while the other staff member resigned before the case could be finalised.

Let us remember that each of us has a responsibility to protect ourselves and those around us. Therefore, we must all adhere to the national regulations as well our own protocols, that is:

  • maintain social distancing (at least 1.5 meters preferably 2 meters)
  • wear a mask (a surgical or 3-layer cloth mask. A buff alone is not sufficient protection)
  • sanitise and wash hands regularly; and
  • refrain from attending gatherings or visiting places where there are large numbers of people

Residence students must complete a self-screening test daily – which includes a daily temperature reading - to ensure that their access cards remain active. Failing to do this will result in the access card being revoked.

Should you at any stage not be sure whether your symptoms are that of flu, or whether it can be Covid-19 related or for any other assistance, please contact your private health-care practitioner or your Campus Health Care Centre for assistance. The Campus Health Care Centres’ contact  details can be found here http://services.nwu.ac.za/health-centres/general-contact-details

If you are symptomatic or had contact with someone who is Covid-19 positive, self-quarantine immediately, and please do not have contact with people during this stage and until your health-care practitioner can confirm that you are cleared, or your Covid-19 results are negative.

To keep up to date with latest developments regarding Covid-19 including protocols, you can visit http://www.nwu.ac.za/coronavirus.

We can reduce the impact of this pandemic and prevent the implementation of drastic measures by working in partnership and collaboration with each other, protect each other and most of all, care about each other.

Thank you to those who are diligently working towards maintaining a safe and healthy environment for our university’s stakeholders.
 

Please continue to take care.

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

3 June 2021: Important information for contact students in modules that have been identified for required sit-down assessments

Dear staff and students,

Please note that the current Level 2 Covid-19 restrictions have not affected the planned sit-down assessment opportunities, which are scheduled to start soon. The Covid-19 directives, read with the latest Covid-19 Regulations, provide for the relaxation of restrictions on number of persons in Covid-19 compliant venues as far as examinations are concerned. Please visit (http://studies.nwu.ac.za/studies/exam-timetables) to ensure that you do not miss a sit-down assessment in identified modules.

The restrictions on the number of persons inside a Covid-19 compliant venue is however subject to specific requirements and the following salient points are therefore pertinent:

  • The scheduled sit-down exams are not voluntary, but a requirement for completion of the relevant modules;
  • Students who are unable to attend sit-down assessments due to illness (Covid-19 or otherwise) need to provide the module lecturer with a medical certificate confirming the medical condition. Such students must make use of the second sit-down opportunity, scheduled for July. Where a student is unable to sit for the required assessment during the first and second opportunities due to illness, a medical certificate confirming the medical condition must be provided to the module lecturer. A make-up assessment will then be scheduled for these students;
  • Strict adherence to all Covid-19 protocols will be observed by the NWU - at its campus venues and at distance learning support centre venues that will be utilised for sit-down assessments. These protocols include the careful preparation of Covid-19 compliant venues in regard to sanitisation and social distancing requirements, as well as ensuring that all persons wear masks. Natural air flow in these venues means that windows and doors will be open during the time of writing, which means that students need to dress warmly. Invigilators are also being trained to ensure adherence to all protocols;
  • Students may not group together outside the venue before or after the exam, as Covid-19 protocols still apply. NWU Protection Services and compliance buddies will be present to ensure compliance with Covid-19 protocols outside the venue prior to and after the exam. Please note that disciplinary action may follow where students and staff do not wear masks and do not adhere to all other Covid-19 protocols.


Full details regarding required sit-down assessments will be communicated to affected students from the respective faculties. Students need to be in contact with their module lecturers if anything in this regard is still unclear.

Your cooperation in these matters is highly appreciated.

Regards
Prof Dan Kgwadi
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

23 May 2021: Cancellation of events across the NWU campuses to manage the spread of Covid-19

Dear student

There is a concerning increase in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in our country and within the North-West University (NWU). Consequently, on Thursday, 20 May 2021, the NWU COVID-19 Response Team resolved to approve the implementation of additional measures to mitigate the exposure of our staff and students to potential super-spreader events.  These measures include the cancellation of all on-and off-campus social, cultural, and informal sports events effective from Monday, 24 May 2021. Sports events such as Varsity Sports are excluded from this cancellation. 

These measures will remain in place until further notice. We must ensure that we continue to create an environment in which we can safely and successfully continue with our academic programme.

The Response Team is considering a proposal for the continuation of informal events in the residence environment. Should the proposal be approved, it will only be applicable to activities within a specific residence, and non-residents will not be allowed. Student Life Division will communicate a decision in this regard to the relevant structures very soon. 

I am aware of the impact that the cancellation of events has on our organised student life across our campuses. However, we need to respond decisively and responsibly in the interest of the health and safety of all our staff and students

Thank you for your continued support.

Please keep safe.
Prof Dan Kgwadi
Principal and Vice-Chancellor      

20 May 2021: Important information for contact students: Second semester of the 2021 academic year

Dear student

One of the primary aims of the North-West University (NWU) has always been to ensure a healthy, supportive and stable academic environment within which our students can flourish. This has received even more attention since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Interventions for at-risk students:

In terms of the General Academic Rules of the university, faculties monitor the academic performance of students, and clearly indicate in writing to those students whose academic performance is unsatisfactory according to the Rules, that failure in certain modules is probable. Timeous interventions are the logical path to follow to ensure that at-risk students have the opportunity to catch up and still pass the modules concerned. Where a student fails a module or is at risk of failing a module, and this is a contact module/programme, there is a normal expectation that class attendance would be a requirement, in the context of face-to-face teaching, or even online. In other words, within the ambit of our current rules, the presence of students may be required for contact interventions, where students are at risk.

The current situation:

We need to keep in mind the current Covid-19 regulations, as well as the fact that we will most probably not see any lifting of these soon. Indeed, the current surge of the potential third wave is becoming a bigger reality daily. To be considered is that Covid-19 regulations make for persons with co-morbidities to be exempted from being required to be present and that overall, only 28.5% seating capacity is available in our venues in order for us to remain Covid-19 compliant. The university must comply with all the Covid-19 regulations with respect of physical distancing, sanitisation, record keeping and reporting requirements.

The immediate way forward:

Faculties are in the process of identifying students who are already at risk of failing first semester modules. These students will need additional academic support, and planning for limited contact interventions on NWU campuses form part of the support and student success strategy of the university during 2021. It is imperative that we offer our at-risk students a better chance at success. We are, however, very much aware that we cannot at this stage of the semester require students to return for contact interventions.

Various factors, inclusive of travel and housing issues, may prohibit quite a number of students to access the planned interventions. Participation will thus be voluntary, although strongly advised. If you are therefore identified by your faculty as being at risk of failing first semester modules, and you are invited back to attend limited contact classes but are not able to do so, we urge you to be in contact with your module lecturers and make known your circumstances so that lecturers are aware of students who need more support, but then in an online/remote setting.

Second semester of 2021:

Online classes for the second semester commence on 29 July. Considering all of the above, it does not make sense for us to require all students to return for semester 2, let alone to be on campus for large scale conventional face-to-face classes. Therefore, teaching and learning will mainly continue online, with exceptions where programmes require small group sessions, laboratory, workshop, practical or placement type experience and where students are required to be on campus. In addition to our ethic of care, the university has a legal requirement to protect its students and staff as far as is reasonable and possible, BUT we also have a legal requirement to support students to have a reasonable chance of success. Therefore, while programmes remain primarily online, we encourage students to be resident on campuses, or in private accommodation near the campuses, because this has all the advantages of accessibility to campus facilities, and access to academics and support staff, for limited contact to teaching-learning support if so required.

Please also note that based on academic performance at the end of semester 1, 2021, we may require all at-risk students to return for contact interventions (subject of course to the national conditions pertaining to Covid-19 in its third or subsequent waves). Communication in this regard will come from the respective faculties at a later date.

Risk of not complying once identified as an at-risk student:

Please take to heart the fact that we are committed to assist and support our students towards success, and that even when we must issue students with warning letters with respect to academic progress, this is part of our strategy to make students aware of the risks of not progressing in their respective programmes, and therefore the need to return and make use of additional support offered. Such support is not only available from module lecturers in online and other modalities, but also through the student development and support opportunities offered through the Centre for Teaching and Learning.

I want to assure you that the NWU is committed to continue to put all possible measures in place to ensure that you have optimal opportunity to continue with your studies in 2021, as was done during last year.

We obviously hoped for a more normalised situation, but this is unfortunately not the case. With your assistance, we can however move forward.

Please keep safe

Prof Dan Kgwadi
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

17 May 2021: Your assistance is needed – adherence to Covid-19 protocols

Dear Student and Staff

We have been confronted with the Covid-19 pandemic for a while now. Indications are that it will remain with us for the foreseeable future. Therefore, the protocols that we have put in place to manage the spread of this virus must continue to be adhered to at all times.

We must remember that each of us has a responsibility to protect ourselves and those around us.

At national level there is a surge in the number of Covid-19 confirmed cases. We are also witnessing an increasing number of cases on our campuses. Since my communique that was shared with you on Friday, 7 May 2021, there have been 30 new Covid-19 confirmed cases and 130 persons confirmed to have been in contact with people who have tested positive.  Sadly, we have lost another member of staff and his spouse last week, bringing the total number of staff and students who have lost their lives due to this pandemic to seven. These are not just numbers but our colleagues, family members, friends and loved ones.

It is of critical importance that all positive cases as well as contact with persons who have tested positive for Covid-19 be reported without delay since non-reporting is a criminal offence and we could endanger the lives of others. Further, there are two reasons for reporting, namely; a) Covid-19 is a communicable disease, and b) we need to ensure that we offer the necessary support to those who need it.

There are increasing cases where staff and students who have been confirmed Covid-19 positive are not self-isolating but continue to enter campuses and endangering the health and safety of others. Clearly these persons are not honest when obtaining their “green tokens” on the Covid-19 pre-screening app. These reported cases are being handled with the seriousness they deserve. I need to reiterate that we have adopted a zero-tolerance approach in dealing with cases like these.

Please remember that should you receive a “red token” on the Covid-19 screening app, you would be referred to the campus Health Care Centre where assistance will be provided.

I strongly appeal that all positive cases and contact with persons who are confirmed Covid-19 positive be reported. This includes contact with persons who show COVID-19 symptoms. Cases can be reported here:  http://services.nwu.ac.za/report-covid-19-cases.

I reiterate that we must all adhere to the national regulations as well our own protocols, that is:

  • maintain social distancing (at least 1.5 meters preferably 2 meters)
  • wear a mask (a surgical or 3-layer cloth mask. A buff alone is not sufficient protection)
  • sanitise and wash hands regularly; and
  • refrain from attending gatherings or visiting places where there are large numbers of people 

 

We continue to ensure that all the necessary measures to manage the spread of Covid-19 are in place across our campuses. However, it appears that some of us do not appreciate the seriousness of this pandemic and do not comply with the protocols and regulations. Sadly, this risky behaviour has resulted in increased numbers of Covid-19 cases at our university and people are losing their lives in the process.

To keep up to date with latest developments regarding Covid-19 including protocols, you can visit http://www.nwu.ac.za/coronavirus.

We can reduce the impact of this pandemic by working in partnership and collaboration with each other, that is, University Management, staff, students, contract workers, suppliers, and everyone within the NWU family. To demonstrate our ethic of care and solidarity, let us continue to support each other, especially those who have been directly affected by Covid-19.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all who have been at the forefront, both on- and off campuses, to curb the spread of this virus.

Please continue to take care.

Prof Dan Kgwadi
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

14 May 2021: A Message of Gratitude to the NWU Student Leadership

Dear Student and Staff

The North-West University (NWU) appreciates the role played by our student leaders not only in championing student issues, but also in ensuring the sustainability of our University, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the past fourteen months or so, we have worked hard to ensure the successful completion of the 2020 academic year and the successful commencement of our 2021 academic programme. I have previously expressed my deepest appreciation to all members of the NWU community who have made it possible for us to succeed.

Today, I wish to pay tribute to our students and student leaders in various spheres, including the SRC and SCCs. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, our student leaders have worked hand-in-hand with both academic and support staff, and invariably contributed to the successes that we have celebrated as the NWU. I urge all stakeholders to continue to enhance this positive cooperation in the execution of all our interventions. Amongst others, I would like to applaud the role played by our students and student leaders as COVID-19 Compliance Buddies in the Student Social Behaviour Project that was initiated in 2020.

Despite challenges and restrictions occasioned by COVID-19, our student leaders – working with colleagues in Student Life – have ensured that we have some semblance of the vibrant and quality of student life for which the NWU is renowned. A number of events and activities have been organized, in support of our student value proposition, which have ensured that our students are able to participate in co-curricular activities within a safe and conducive environment, and in compliance to our protocols and regulations.

I am aware of the continued efforts, events and activities on all three of our campuses, including community engagement programmes such as Canned Food and Barefoot Day, that are planned by our student leaders. Equally, I am appreciative of all the sport, arts and culture events that are currently underway following approval by our COVID-19 Response Team.

I wish to encourage the student leadership and the general student populace of NWU to continue being creative and innovative amid the COVID-19 challenges, and to ensure that our University continues to be the preferred destination for students from far and wide. This will ensure that we retain the student vibrancy and quality student experience which are an integral part of our student value proposition.

Sincerely,
Prof Dan Kgwadi
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

20 March 2021: Developments at our Mahikeng Campus

Dear NWU Mahikeng Campus staff member and student

Today, I write to you to express my deep sadness and frustration in the way some of our Mahikeng Campus students conduct themselves, especially when there are calls for support and solidarity on matters at national level.

I have emphasised countless times that we, the North-West University, support and appreciate all initiatives aimed at ensuring students’ access and success in our country’s higher education sector. All our students at the three campuses and those on distance learning have a right to support the national calls for financial and other assistance for academically deserving students. Students are also free to raise issues with management through the university’s students’ structures and recognised channels.

There is a developing trend in which our Mahikeng Campus is constantly engulfed in violence, vandalism, and destruction of property as well as intimidation of stakeholders.

There does not seem to be any appreciation of the resources that we have been working hard to build to ensure equity of resources and student experiences across the three campuses.  This week, less than 100 students, including non-students with absolutely no interest in the success of the university nor the best interests of our students, caused damage to university property, and their actions led to the closure of the Mahikeng Campus. Staff could not gain access to the campus and could therefore not assist students with critical services, including financial clearances and registration. Our infrastructure development projects are also negatively affected since contractors cannot access the campus.

This year’s protest action is taking place in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic which continues to claim lives. We have spent millions to make our campuses Covid-19 regulations compliant, and to ensure that our students can return to campuses. We have done this because we value the health and safety of staff and students, and we want to create an environment that enables you to succeed. Whilst many of our staff and students have engaged in activities that positively reflect the solidarity of the NWU in fighting the pandemic, the current behaviour negates all our good intentions. These gatherings are super-spreader events as there is no adherence to the wearing of masks and social distancing. The university regrets the irresponsible actions currently displayed at our Mahikeng Campus.

We have spent a significant amount of funds to invest in security at the Mahikeng Campus to ensure the safety of our students. We are repeatedly compelled to use the already limited university funds to respond to the vandalism and destruction of university property during violent protests. We must appreciate that these are taxpayers’ funds which could be used for other services such as infrastructure development and funding for post-graduate students.

Ironically the same people who are destroying property are the ones who purport to be fighting for poor students. I need to make it abundantly clear that the continued vandalism and destruction of property will not solve our socio-economic problems. In fact, these actions will result in even more of our students unable to succeed academically.

Management is involved in discussions with the minister, USAF and NSFAS to consider sustainable solutions for this funding crisis. All of us must be involved in a constructive debate regarding long-term sustainable solutions for higher education funding in our country. This is critical for the development and growth of our beloved country. Short-termism will only deepen the funding crisis and derail future students’ access and success. 

We are working hard to raise funds and promote the university to our partners in the public and private sectors. Our consistent message to these partners and industry role-players is that the NWU is a unitary institution with each executive dean responsible for their faculty’s experiences across the three campuses. Therefore, there is no need to consider the campus at which the students are based when recruiting for employment and business opportunities because the students should have the same academic experience and knowledge.

The incidents that happened during this week and in the past are causing damage to this message and make it difficult for us to promote the university to external stakeholders. We have held many engagements with companies who have the perception that students from the Mahikeng Campus are irresponsible and cannot adapt to their companies’ work ethic and discipline due to the instability and vandalism at the campus. We were beginning to change that perception and some of these companies that were conducting career fairs at the Potchefstroom and Vanderbijlpark campuses only had made commitments to recruit students from the Mahikeng Campus. These recent developments have taken us back and will sadly affect all our graduates especially from our Mahikeng Campus

I know there are students at the Mahikeng Campus, who, despite the challenges they face, are dedicated to their studies, and would want to make a success of their future. Of the more than 50 thousand NWU students, there are 13 000 students at our Mahikeng Campus, and it is regrettable that their future seems to be in the hands of the very few students who have short-term interests. This is indeed very sad and painful.

In terms of the issues that have been raised by the Student Campus Council (SCC) during this registration period, management can confirm as follows:

  • Registration period has been extended until 26 March 2021;
  • We have taken a risk of using the university’s limited cash reserves, approximately R250 million, to cover for NSFAS allowances;
  • More than 94% of our senior students have been fully registered;
  • More than 72% of first-year students are fully registered. The situation at the Mahikeng Campus is contributing negatively towards the registration process;
  • All registered students who have indicated that they wish to return to campus and/or residences and/or private accommodation providers can do so. This will only apply when the campus reopens;
  • Post graduate students will no longer be funded by NSFAS. The university is still awaiting the DHET/NSFAS guidelines for clarity. High performing students in PGCE and LLB have been identified and are being offered full bursaries by the NWU;
  • All final-year students who qualify for merit bursaries in 2021 and have outstanding debt will be allowed to register;
  • There is no way that the North-West University can afford to cancel the students’ outstanding debt. Should we do that, we will need to get significant funding from government and other sources or begin to prepare for a crisis that may result in closing some of our schools and services;
  • The national regulations and NWU protocols aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19 remain in place; thus, the restrictions on certain issues including visits in residences are not permitted at this stage;
  • Conditionally registered students have been allowed to fully participate in the online academic programme, and 
  • All our university websites and eFundi sites have been zero-rated to enable access for students.
     

The Mahikeng Campus remains closed until the situation improves and staff can safely access the campus to perform their duties. We expect the academic programme to continue online, hence we need the situation to normalise so that the students without connectivity at their home(s) can return to campus and participate in the online teaching-learning mode.

This painful and regrettable trend must stop. Discussions between management and the student leaders are continuing and I am hopeful that sanity will prevail, and the campus can open next week. It is critical that the Mahikeng Campus students must finalise their registration and begin with the academic programme.

Regards

Prof. Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

18 March 2021: Continued blockade of the Mahikeng Campus

Dear colleague

The NWU Management had hoped that the situation at the Mahikeng Campus would have improved by now. Regrettably, it appears that some members of the Student Campus Council (SCC) are determined to continue with the blockade of entrances into campus and thus ensuring that the campus does not function since staff cannot access the campus. This is affecting the registration process and other services that registered students deserve.

On 16 March, the NWU management decided to close the campus until further notice, because the safety of staff and students cannot be guaranteed under the current situation. In addition, there is lack of adherence to national Covid-19 regulations as well as the NWU protocols.

The academic activities have begun in earnest and our Mahikeng Campus students may have to participate in these activities online. You are encouraged to liaise with your faculty to make the necessary arrangements.

The campus remains closed and students who can leave the campus are encouraged to do so.

Herewith the numbers for student requests related to data, permission letters and other related queries:

Kind regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

17 March 2021: Current status of protest actions at the NWU Mahikeng Campus

Since Monday, 15 March 2021, students, and members of the public have been protesting outside the main entrance to the Mahikeng Campus in solidarity with the call for a national shutdown of all public universities. Staff are still unable to access the campus to render services to deserving students.

On 16 March, the NWU Management decided to close the campus until further notice, because the safety of staff and students cannot be guaranteed under the current situation. In addition, there is lack of adherence to national Covid-19 regulations as well as the NWU protocols.    

Various roads leading to the campus have been barricaded and tyres burnt since Monday, 15 March.  During the evening of 16 March, protesters tried to force their way into the campus by breaking the lock of the main gate. They were however prevented from entering the campus. Later in the evening, protesters also threw a petrol bomb at the guard house. Fortunately, the device did not explode but windows of the guard house were broken. The CCTV cameras covering the area were also tampered with.

There was also an incident where students are alleged to have assaulted an individual who was allegedly responsible for throwing the petrol bomb and damaging the CCTV cameras.

There is reasonable suspicion that not all the protesters are students. As a result, CCTV footage will be used for both criminal and/or student disciplinary cases. Cases of assault and malicious damage to property have also been registered with the Mmabatho Police Station.

The NWU management strongly condemns the recent spate of violence and damage to university property. We will need to use the already limited funds to fix the damaged property. We urge students to respect the university property and adhere to the necessary regulations and protocols. We remain committed to continue engagements with student leaders to ensure that all outstanding issues especially those within the control of the university can be addressed. Although we would like all matters including lack of funds to be addressed as a matter of urgency, we cannot, regrettably, resolve the issues that are beyond our mandate.   

We reiterate that we cannot guarantee the health and safety of students and staff amid this violence and damage to property; thus, students are requested to vacate the campus. We have received numerous requests from students to allow them to stay on campus due to travel and other challenges. These students should make the necessary arrangements with their respective Student Life Residence offices.

Staff should continue to work from home until further notice - an obvious setback for the university as a whole and especially to the students who are in dire need of assistance to clear their financial issues and register for the 2021 academic year. However, we must do everything possible to ensure the health and safety of the NWU community particularly students and staff.

Regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

16 March 2021: To students and staff of the NWU Mahikeng Campus

Dear students and staff of the NWU Mahikeng Campus

Due to the continued violations of Covid-19 regulations and protocols, as well as the inability of staff to access campus to render the necessary services to deserving students, the university management has taken a painful decision to close the Mahikeng Campus with immediate effect until further notice.

As communicated yesterday, registration period for all students has been extended until 26 March 2021.

This is obviously a setback for the university as a whole and especially to the students who are in dire need of assistance to clear their financial issues and register for the 2021 academic year. However, we must do everything possible to ensure the health and safety of the NWU community.

Students are requested to vacate the campus by 14:00 tomorrow, Wednesday, 17 March 2021, as the NWU cannot guarantee their safety under these volatile conditions, where campus security is severely compromised.

Staff are advised to liaise with their managers and make the necessary arrangements to work from home until further notice.

Please keep safe.

Regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

UMC-SRC meeting of 15 March 2021

The NWU University Management Committee (UMC) and SRC convened an urgent meeting today, 15 March 2021, to discuss and to find sustainable solutions to the challenges faced by the higher education sector in our country and the impact of those problems on some of the NWU students. The UMC acknowledges the impact of Covid-19 on many South Africans including the NWU students and their families. The agenda items discussed at the meeting are as follows: 

Clearing of all students including PGCE, and academic exclusions/ terminations

The SRC requested management to consider the clearing of all debt for students including the Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) students.  The UMC is committed to ensuring that all deserving students are cleared and can register for the 2021 academic year. However, a blanket approach to debt clearance would not be possible. Management has embarked upon several initiatives to assist students. It was reiterated that students can be conditionally registered while their financial matters are being attended to on a case by case bases.  To date, the following have been done: 

  • To demonstrate our appreciation of the problems that our students encounter especially during this pandemic, we have taken a risk of using the university’s limited cash reserves, approximately R250 million, to cover for NSFAS allowances;
  • We have cleared as many NSFAS funded senior students as possible in advance (before getting funding confirmation from NSFAS) based on our own assessment regarding academic performance and number of years in study;
  • Continuing NSFAS funded students, as well as senior NSFAS Students who are being funded for the first time in 2021, and have outstanding debt, can register after signing an Acknowledgement of Debt (AOD), irrespective of the outstanding amount;
  • As at 1 March, 1 431 senior students applying for the first time for NSFAS have been cleared.  A total of 6 954 first year students are currently approved for NSFAS funding and cleared to register without paying the first minimum payment;
  • Post graduate students will no longer be funded by NSFAS. The university is still awaiting the DHET/NSFAS guidelines for clarity. High performing students in PGCE and LLB have been identified and are being offered full bursaries by the NWU;
  • We are evaluating each student’s case on its merits to see how many academically deserving students we can allow to continue to register even when they have outstanding debt;
  • All final-year students who qualify for merit bursaries in 2021 and have outstanding debt will be allowed to register;
  • All academically deserving final-year students with funding for 2021, but have outstanding debt, will be allowed to register; and
  • All other students will be attended to on a case by case basis, considering their individual circumstances.

It is important to note that, of the more than 60 000 students of the NWU, less than 100 students have been excluded from the academic programme in 2021 due to poor academic progress.

To date, more than 90% of our senior students have been registered. 

Allowing of lease for private accommodation

The SRC demanded that a process for applications for new leases must be opened and new accommodation accredited. The NSFAS rules dictate that universities only pay for student accommodation that meets the set criteria and has been accredited. 

Students who wish to claim NSFAS accommodation allowances need to present the accreditation number of the residence where they wish to reside. The accreditation process for 2021 started in October 2020 and is still ongoing.

Allowing of late applications

The university needs to adhere to the DHET approved enrolment plan. For the 2021 academic year, we received more than 106 377 applications for admission: significantly more than the 10 933 available spaces. It is important to understand that there are penalties for non-adherence with the enrolment plan. The DHET has established the Central Applications Clearing House (CACH) service which undertakes to match applicants’ examination results and study preferences with available spaces. The service does not guarantee applicants for a place, but it is a recommended route for those who have not applied. 

Allowing of 100% access to campuses

All registered students who have indicated that they wish to return to campus and/or residences and/or private accommodation providers can do so. This applies even if 100% of students wish to return.  However, management must continue to ensure the health and safety of all students, staff, and other stakeholders. Therefore, strict adherence to applicable national regulations and the NWU protocols shall remain crucial at our campuses during Level 1 of the lockdown. Students who applied for permission letters, will be issued with these.

Allowing residence visitations

The university has put measures in place to ensure that students, staff, and other stakeholders on the campuses and in the residences are safe and that the spread of the virus is limited as far as it is reasonably possible. The university followed medical advice and applied the experiences gained from students who interact with each other, even under the current strict protocols, to conclude that open visiting rights between residences and students residing at different accommodation facilities will only increase the risk of the virus to spread. This decision will be constantly monitored and reviewed when necessary.

Extension of assessment submission dates to late April

The SRC raised a concern that the students are complaining about missing assessments for modules and requested the extension of submission dates for assignments dates to late April.

Management confirmed that that there would be no penalties accrued in relation to the late submission of assessments by conditionally registered students. It was also confirmed that the setting of additional assignments or assessments, for students who had not submitted assessments or assignments, yet, if indeed so needed, would be managed by faculties in relation to the requirements of the programme.

Provision of data to all students

The SRC proposed that all students should be given data except those who are on campus. As previously communicated, all registered students who have problems with connectivity and data can return to campuses. Of the 6 600 of accepted first year students who participated in a survey, 85% indicated that they would need data. In terms of returning students, approximately 27 800 had indicated that they need data and it was provided as such.

There were a few cases in which the incorrect contact details were used and the data was given to students who did not require it. Students who prefer not to return to campuses can still indicate their data requirements and the university will act accordingly. It remains the responsibility of the student to update their contact details on the DIY service in order for the university to upload data to the correct and deserving student.

It is important to remember that in the survey to senior students regarding the laptop initiative, only 32 indicated that they need a laptop and are willing to pay for it from their learning material allowance.

Management undertook to investigate the issues around data and laptop provision and report back to the SRC.

Extension of the registration period until end of March

The registration period for returning undergraduate students and for the first-year students has been extended until 26 March 2021. This includes the period for adds-and-drops.

From 27 March onward, no registration would be allowed, in order to finalise the preparation towards the HEMIS census-date process. The registration date for post-graduate students remains as published on the NWU annual calendar. Although we appreciate the problems experienced by our students and the higher education sector in general, we remain hopeful that we will find sustainable solutions that can move us towards a successful completion of the 2021 academic year. To this end, management will continue to engagements with student leaders to find solutions.

 

Issued by the NWU Management

12 March 2021: Progress on the registration process

Dear student

As most of you may be aware, the university has been working tirelessly to make certain that all possible measures are put in place to ensure a smooth registration of students for the 2021 academic year. Below is an update pertaining to some of the registration matters.

Feedback on NSFAS:

While more than 90% of our senior students are fully registered, there are still some that await NSFAS feedback. Up to now more than 3 000 of our first-year students are already fully registered. We are, however, aware that many our first-year students have also not yet received clearance from NSFAS. Therefore, the university welcomes the announcement by the Minister for Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, on 11 March, regarding various outstanding NSFAS issues.

Due to lack of clarity regarding specific details relevant to certain categories of students, many of our students are still only conditionally registered. While the NWU is eagerly awaiting the relevant information from NSFAS, the necessary arrangements have been made to ensure that even conditionally registered students can have access to the university’s zero-rated e-learning platform, eFundi, thus ensuring that all students can proceed with the academic programme.

Academic programme:

No conditionally registered student is excluded from the academic programme. Students who have not yet registered are encouraged to continue with the process, even if they are still awaiting feedback from NSFAS or have a reasonable expectation that they will be funded. Registration will secure your place in the programme. The moment NSFAS-funded or other students are cleared for funding, the student’s status will change from conditionally registered to registered on our system, thereby automatically giving them access to campuses or university residences, if they have so requested and have received a permission letter to do so in addition to the access to the modules on eFundi.

It is however important to remember that for students who fail to complete their registration by the due dates as would be determined by the university, the terms and conditions for conditionally registered students as stated clearly on eFundi, will come into effect.

The academic year for our returning students commenced on 15 February as per our last communique to the academic community. There was an initial two-week orientation period during which time students could continue finalising registration and be orientated towards their academic programmes for the year: this applied to conditionally registered as well as fully registered students. For that orientation period, I communicated that no assessments or assignments should occur. All other activities: reading/studying, writing, and preparations for academic programme, could occur.

It is important that senior students (registered and conditionally registered) take note that the academic programme, including assignments and assessments, have commenced in full after the orientation period. Conditionally registered students are able to participate in all academic activities (assessments included) through eFundi, which is zero-rated and thus accessible to all. Students need a positive data balance on their device of choice, but after accessing eFundi (as well as the NWU Library URL), no data is used or required to upload or download materials from these zero-rated sites. Data is needed once a student is re-directed to another site outside of eFundi or the NWU URL (e.g. YouTube, Teams etc).

To accommodate senior students who have not yet been able to register, I further approved that the academic registration period for such students be extended until 19 March 2021.

First-year students who would still be conditionally registered by 17 March will similarly be allowed to access the eFundi and other zero-rated pages to participate in teaching and learning.

Access to eFundi:

Should access be difficult to understand please access the http://services.nwu.ac.za/KeepOnTL/students or call the eFundi help desk at 018 285 5930.

IT helplines can also be contacted:

  • Mahikeng Campus: 0183892312/0183892447
  • Potchefstroom Campus: 0182992003/0182852295
  • Vanderbijlpark Campus: 0169103035/0169103038


The way forward:

Finally, it is important to understand that academic activities cannot be suspended, and students must continue with their studies. You are already aware that the 2020 academic year of the university ran over into 2021, because of the pandemic. It is critical for us to complete the 2021 academic year in 2021, as this has implications for the access and completion rates of current students, grade-12s seeking to access the system in 2022, and indeed the whole education and higher education sector's assessment and grade-promotion cycles.

As we are welcoming our new students on our campuses, I would like to encourage all of you to work with management and our faculties to ensure a smooth continuation of the academic year.

Please take care and adhere to all Covid-19 protocols to ensure that we maintain a safe and healthy environment for all our stakeholders.

Kind regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor       

9 March 2021: Notice to conditionally registered first-year students awaiting confirmation from NSFAS or other funders

On 8 March 2021, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation released a statement indicating that confirmation of NSFAS funding for first-time entering students (FTENs) was still outstanding. As part of this statement, he requested higher education institutions to extend their registration process with a period of two weeks.

The planned registration for first-year students at the North-West University (NWU) already included the period 15 to 26 March 2021 as amendment period for module/qualification for first years, thus accommodating the request from the Minister, will not have an immediate impact.

This implies that at the NWU, you as first-year student will be able to commence with your registration process, but depending on the outcome on funding approval by NSFAS, you will only be able to complete your registration once you have received your funding approval. The same applies for prospective students awaiting funding confirmation from other sources. This further means that until you have completed your registration process, you will not be able to access campus, nor will you be able to take up your place in a university residence (where relevant).

We understand that this situation creates uncertainty for our accepted first-year students affected by this, and that you are all excited to commence with this new chapter of your life as soon as possible. Therefore, we encourage you to still commence with your online registration process, and obtain the status of a conditionally registered student. This will allow you to partake in the virtual Registration and Orientation Programme via the zero-rated NWU website, thereby ensuring that you acquire the necessary information to ensure that when you receive your confirmation of funding, you will be able to continue with your university career seamlessly.

Even though the academic programme for first year students will commence on 17 March, those who have been conditionally registered, will also be able to participate via our e-learning platform, eFundi.

Lastly, we invite you to visit the Registration and Orientation Programme website, and familiarise yourself with the programmes, videos and infographics available.

The process for fully registered students remains unchanged.

We trust that the situation will soon be resolved to allow us to welcome you as fully registered students of the NWU.

Regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

 

7 March 2021: The high risk of ‘super-spreader’ events across our campuses

Dear student

The beginning of the academic year always presents excitement and challenges to both students and staff. This year, the challenges, and frustrations that staff and students across the country must grapple with due to economic problems and the need to register and perform many administrative processes online, have made the situation even more difficult. 

On Friday, 5 March 2021, a group of people including some of our students gathered outside the entrance of the Vanderbijlpark Campus for a protest action. Another group of students at the Mahikeng Campus was also involved in a protest action on Wednesday, 3 March 2021. 

Most of the people who were involved in these two events, did not adhere to national regulations and the NWU protocols regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. I.e. many of them did not practise social distancing and did not wear masks. Irrespective of the reason(s) and justification for these gatherings, the fact remains that these are a transgression of the current national lockdown regulations and potential ‘super-spreader’ events, with a very high risk for transmitting Covid-19 among the participants in those events and to non-participants including other NWU students and staff. 

As the NWU management, we acknowledge the difficulties and frustration caused by the current situation and processes. It is important for all of us to appreciate that we are still facing a pandemic which demands that we respect and adhere to national regulations as well as our own protocols. We are very serious about complying to regulations not only because it is legally required, but also because we want to ensure the health and safety of all our students, staff, service providers and visitors, who continue to take risks to work across our campuses. 

I urge all students to comply with the regulations and protocols, and to not participate in Covid-19 ‘super spreader’ events that are organised within or outside our campuses. The applicable rules and processes will be implemented for those who continue to put the health of others at risk. Let us use the relevant structures of the university to engage and find amicable and sustainable solutions to the challenges experienced by our students. 

We will continue to do everything possible to ensure a smooth registration period for all qualifying students. However, we must respect the fact that our stakeholders such as NSFAS have their own processes to follow to assist deserving students who have applied for financial assistance.  

I want to assure the NWU community that we are not oblivious to the current NSFAS challenges and other concerns. We are working tirelessly to assist qualifying students to become fully registered. Our current academic offering is setup in such a way that no student is prohibited from attending and fully participating in online activities.

We can have another successful academic year only if we continue to collaborate and find sustainable solutions to the problems we face, especially during this difficult and uncertain time. 

Please take care.


Regards
Prof Dan Kgwadi
Principal and Vice-Chancellor 

18 February 2021: NWU senior students’ bursaries 2021 

Dear student 
 
What an academic year 2020 was! Not only for the NWU but for many organisations including those in the higher education sector globally. It is the year that tested many education institutions’ agility and readiness to adopt to new ways of teaching-learning and assessment. In addition to the teaching-learning challenges, the NWU like many other institutions had to grapple with financial uncertainties and the need to ensure long-term sustainability while continuing to maintain facilities and resources that are necessary to ensure continued students’ access and success.
 
We are pleased that many of our students showed their resilience and determination to succeed under very challenging times. The continuous assessment approach and multiple assessment opportunities for students, which have been embraced by many higher education institutions globally, have undoubtedly enabled many students to succeed academically during 2020. 
 
In September 2020, the University Management Committee approved a preliminary revision of the merit bursaries that may be paid to senior students in 2021. The preliminary changes were included in the Payable Fees booklet that has been published on the NWU website. In the booklet, it was indicated that ONLY senior students who achieve an academic average of 85% (previously 75%) and above would qualify for a 50% merit bursary to ensure that we remain within the budget allocated for merit bursaries. 
 
We are delighted that, after careful consideration of the different scenarios and proposals, the UMC has, on 17 February 2021, approved a differentiated approach and an increase in the budget allocated for merit bursaries for senior students.  The UMC’s approval of this allocation enables the university to broaden the pool of merit bursary beneficiaries even though the situation remains difficult and uncertain. This approval is also a demonstration of the university’s commitment to promote excellent academic performance and support for performing students. The increased allocation will only be applicable for senior students who meet the criteria based on their academic results of 2020. This approach and allocation will be reviewed during 2021 to cater for the prevailing circumstances and to ensure feasibility and sustainability. The allocation is as follows:
 
Senior Students (except for NSFAS students as stipulated in the DHET guidelines) with the 2020 academic average of:
 
85% and above will qualify for a discount of 50% on tuition fees for 2021
80% - 84.99% will qualify for a discount of 40% on tuition fees for 2021
75% - 79.99% will qualify for a discount of 30% on tuition fees for 2021.
 
Please note that no rounding off will be applied. I.e. 74,5% will not become 75%. The students’ marks or merits will be automatically calculated and generated; thus, the students do not need to apply for merits. Allocations will be processed on the accounts of students by end of April 2021, but no later than the end of May 2021. Enquiries may be sent to:
 
Mafikeng Campus: mc-studyfees@nwu.ac.za
Potchefstroom Campus: PC-studyfees@nwu.ac.za
Vanderbijlpark Campus: vaalaccounts@nwu.ac.za
 
We wish you a successful 2021 academic year. 
 
Kind regards
Student Finances 

12 February 2021: Registration and academic orientation from 15 to 26 February, 2021

Dear student,

Arising from national delays concerning the payment of bursary funding, the registration for many of our students has similarly been delayed. After consultations with the relevant stakeholders, management has decided that the period 15 to 26 February will be an academic orientation period during which time students can access eFundi, contact their lecturers, and familiarise themselves with the programmes. Registration for senior students is also extended until 26 February. No assessments or assignments will be conducted during this period so as to give conditionally registered students an opportunity to register fully.

As you are aware, the university has been struggling over the past weeks to receive clearance for funding for all returning NSFAS students who have adhered to academic progression requirements in order to qualify for funding in 2021. An exacerbating factor is that more than 3600 senior students have applied for NSFAS funding for the first time this year, and NSFAS has not yet considered these submissions for funding clearance.

We have been working tirelessly to ensure that the moment NSFAS students are cleared for funding, the students’ status would change from conditionally registered to registered on our systems, thereby automatically giving them access to modules on eFundi (and to campuses or university residences, if they have so requested and have received a permission letter to do so).

We are concerned for those students who may still be conditionally registered by Monday 15 February due to financial reasons. These include:

  • NSFAS students waiting for funding clearance or students who need to sign an acknowledgement of debt (AOD)
  • Those with outstanding debt that has not been fully paid up or the student has not yet made arrangements with the NWU in regard of the settling of such outstanding fees; and
  • Students who are bursary candidates but have not yet provided the NWU with proof of funding from the potential bursar or sponsor.

 

Apart from our fully registered students who will have access to eFundi, conditionally registered senior students can access eFundi as temporary students. Such access indicated on eFundi is temporary until registration status is changed within the stipulated timeframe (15-26 February, 2021).

Please note that eFundi is zero-rated and thus accessible to conditionally registered students who do not yet qualify for data provision or for returning to campus.

 

The following principles will be applicable to conditionally registered students:

  • The module sites will be opened for conditionally registered students as well as registered students to access study content through eFundi
  • It remains the responsibility of the conditionally registered student to go onto eFundi to join the relevant sites as a temporary student and to link themselves by following the relevant steps on eFundi;
  • Step 1: On the Home page in eFundi, once you have logged in - you will see a Search & Join your available module sites link under the ‘Message of the day’ section (right-hand side of the screen) – follow this link. You will be taken to a list of joinable sites
  • Step 2: Make sure the Joinable sites tab at the top of the screen is selected
  • Step 3: Search for and join the sites for the modules you intend to register for. These sites will now be displayed on your sites list at the top right of the screen
  • For additional assistance on joining a site please look at this tutorial.
  • Please take note: You will be joined to these sites as a Temporary Student. Your status (role) in the site will change as soon as you finalise your registration. If your registration has not been finalised by the specified date, you will automatically be removed from these sites.
  • After 26 February, students who are still conditionally registered will not be able to access eFundi. Therefore, we urge students to ensure that they have registered by 26 February, 2021.

 

Conditionally registered students should also take note of the following important information

  • All outstanding registration requirements, whether financial or academic, necessary to complete student registration, must be fulfilled by no later than 26 February 2021
  • Failure to complete registration by the date above will result in the cancellation of such conditional registration
  • Conditionally registered students will be allowed to participate academically via eFundi as "temporary student"
  • If a student fails to complete registration, the student's access to eFundi will be cancelled and the student will not be entitled to any credit for any teaching-learning activities completed during this period
  • Conditional registration and access to eFundi do not give a student any rights to access university premises or university residences, or to receive data. In addition, they do not create any right, expectation or guarantee that a student will be registered; and
  • If a student's registration is not completed, irrespective of the reason, a student will not have any claims against the university for any damages or losses suffered due to non-registration. A student will have no claim, or have any rights, to be registered as a student of the university.

 

Data

Already registered students, who have not returned to campus by choice, and who have indicated their needs through the service lines, will be in receipt of data from February. Students who return to campuses will have access to Wifi, thus, they will not receive data (VCs Communique: 26 January 2021).


Permission letters

Permission letters are issued on the basis of registration status and a request to return to the campuses. Conditionally registered students, who have indicated that they wish to return to campuses, will not be issued with such letters until such time that they have fully registered. As soon as a student’s status changes on the student registration system, a permission letter is generated automatically and will be emailed to the student. This letter can also be retrieved from the DIY system.

 

Residences

Only registered students, who have confirmed their intention to return to the campuses, may take up their allocated rooms places in residences. For residence related queries please contact:

 

NSFAS allowances:

Only registered NSFAS students will qualify to receive living allowances.

 

Let us continue to collaborate and ensure a successful start of the 2021 academic year.

I look forward to engaging with you further.

Regards
Prof Dan Kgwadi
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

28 January 2021: Covid-19-related deaths at the NWU

Dear student

It is with sadness that I inform you of our first two reported deaths due to Covid-19. These are the deaths of our nursing student who passed away on 24 January, and a staff member who passed away on 26 January. Both the student and the staff member were based at our Potchefstroom Campus. Our heartfelt condolences to the families, friends, and colleagues of these departed members of the NWU family. Let us keep them in our thoughts and prayers.

When this pandemic was announced and the lockdowns introduced, we never imagined how our lives would be affected and altered. It is nearly a year now since the first cases of this pandemic in our country were reported, and its devastation continues.

Some of our staff and students are currently recovering from the virus and others are in isolation because of exposure to Covid-19. We continue to pray and trust that all will recover.

Please take care.

Kind regards
Prof Dan Kgwadi
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

 

26 January 2021: Amendment of teaching-learning for the first semester of 2021

Dear student

In preparation for the 2021 academic year, it is of the utmost importance that we keep in mind the unprecedented rise in Covid-19 infections since the end of 2020 until now, and especially the identification of a new and even more contagious variant of the virus.

In my communication to you regarding teaching and learning for 2021, on 24 November 2020, it was emphasised that the national situation around Covid-19 would drive the teaching-learning situation for this year. Consequently, our approach may need to be amended as the lock-down levels change during the year.  

Due to space limitations and a necessity to adhere to safety protocols, it is not possible to have full contact classes. I have also indicated in the previous communique that under such circumstances, modules that have no critical need for face-to-face sessions would be presented fully online. However, there would still be those modules within certain programmes that would necessitate purposeful face-to-face contact sessions (with applicable online components where relevant). Laboratory, workshop or practical sessions are anticipated to continue as normal and students in associated programmes need to return to the NWU campuses as advised by their faculties.

Tuition during the first semester:

For the first semester, teaching-learning at the NWU will remain mostly online. Only students whose programmes need laboratory, workshop, practical or placement type experience are required to return by the second week of February. Faculties will also identify programmes for which a limited contact-teaching learning experience will be offered and advise the affected students accordingly. All affected students will be contacted directly by their respective faculties and permission letters issued for these students to gain access to the relevant campus(es). Only registered students will be granted permission letters; thus, I urge you to register as soon as possible.

Categories for return:

All students who prefer to return to campus accommodation or private accommodation in the different towns, as well as students who elect to remain at home, are permitted to do so and will need to identify themselves to their faculties in the following three categories:

Category 1: students who choose, or are required, to return to campus for their programmes and who are staying in campus residences.  These students will receive permission letters, but no data will be issued to them.

Category 2: students who choose or are required to return to campus for their programmes and to private accommodation in the different towns, but who will need access to the campuses. These students will receive permission letters and data. Note that students in private accommodation with WiFi will not automatically receive data.

Category 3: students who prefer or choose to study at home and in need of data. These students will receive data but no letters of permission. Students who are required to return or be on campus but opt to remain at home, need to be aware that they risk non-completion of the programme(s).

A communique giving students the opportunity to indicate their preferred option, will follow soon.

Sit-down assessments:

All students are advised that should they be required to attend scheduled sit-down assessments at the university, they need to make arrangements to attend the assessments at the specified campuses of the NWU or designated learning support centre(s), identified by the NWU, around South Africa and Namibia. Details will be communicated by faculties, and queries regarding such arrangements may be directed to the dean of the faculty concerned.

Allocation of data:

Data will be made available from 8 February for qualifying senior students who choose not to return to campuses. Qualifying first-year students who choose not to come to campuses will receive data from, 8 March 2021.

Online registration and return to residences:

The online registration process for returning students has already commenced on 18 January and students will have the opportunity to register until 12 February, after which classes will begin on 15 February. First-year students will register online from 8 to 10 March and their classes will begin on 17 March after the reception and orientation programme which will be mainly online/virtual. Senior students and first-year students who have been accepted at campus residences will be allowed to move into their campus residences from 10 February and 8 March, respectively.

International students:

According to the government regulations, all international students with a valid study/research visa will be allowed into South Africa. International students may enter through any land border or airport that is open under the current level 3 regulations. Any traveller arriving at an airport is required to provide a valid certificate of a negative Covid-19 test which was obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel (students must please read specific SA travel regulations while planning their departure).

I want to assure you that we are committed to continue to put all possible measures in place to ensure that you have optimal opportunity to continue with your studies in 2021, as was done during last year.

We obviously hoped for a more normalised situation, but this is unfortunately not the case. We remain optimistic that the recently announced government interventions including the continued enforcement of regulations will contain the spread of the virus.

The work towards the successful completion of the 2021 academic year begins now. Let us collaborate and (re)commit ourselves to the NWU’s dream and purpose.

Please keep safe.

Regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

26 January 2021: Notice: 2021 merit bursaries for senior students

Dear student

In September 2020, the University Management Committee approved a preliminary revision of the merit bursaries that may be paid to senior students in 2021. The preliminary changes were included in the Payable Fees booklet that has been published on the NWU website. Covid-19 has a serious impact on the financial stability of the university, and as such various measures had to be put in place to ensure that we remain within the budget allocated for merit bursaries, as well as within the broader university budget.

We also acknowledge the negative financial impact of Covid-19 on all our stakeholders and continuously explore a range of options that have the potential to lead to long-term and sustainable solutions. It must be emphasised that the revision is still in progress and final communication will follow once all the 2020 academic results are captured and the financial impact of the merit bursaries for the university is clear.

 

Regards

Prof. Robert Balfour

DVC: Teaching-Learning

 

31 December 2020: Arrangements – students returning for sit down (on campus) examinations/assessments from 4 -15 January 2021

Dear student

Based on the adjusted level 3 lock down regulations announced by the President on Monday, 28 December 2021 (and promulgated in Government Gazette 44044 on 29 December 2020), the purpose of this communication is to inform our students that all existing arrangements regarding sit-down (on campus) examinations/assessments scheduled for the period 4 to 15 January 2021, will continue as planned. Online assessments will also continue as planned.

We need to ensure that everything possible is done to allow us to complete the 2020 academic year by 15 January 2021.

The faculties of Economic and Management Sciences, Engineering and Natural and Agricultural Sciences, have already via eFundi, made arrangements with specific students (undergraduate and postgraduate) to attend specific examinations/assessments on campuses of the university.

Residence facilities have been prepared for those students who would need to reside in university facilities for the period of additional assessments.  Eligible residence students who would need to make use of these facilities for the sole purpose of the second opportunity examinations/assessments, will have to provide proof of such, and must make the necessary arrangements with the staff members via email, as indicated below:

Students who resided in private accredited accommodation facilities during 2020, must contact their respective landlords, provide proof of second opportunity examinations/assessments and make the necessary arrangements to occupy their facilities. No additional fees may be charged for the period up to 15 January 2021.

No undergraduate students who have not been identified to return for sit-down examinations/assessments, will be allowed onto any of the campuses for the period 4 to 15 January 2021. This will not apply to undergraduate students who need to continue with practical work, or postgraduate students who need to do laboratory work.

Students who have specific enquiries, are requested to make telephonic contact with their respective faculties.

I emphasise that all health and safety protocols are in place for these assessments in compliance with government regulations, higher health protocols, as well as existing NWU protocols.

Classes for all returning students are due to commence on 15 February 2021 and further communication will follow in this regard soon.

I want to make an urgent appeal to all students who need to return to our campuses for the sake of sit-down examinations/assessments as well as practical or laboratory work, to ensure that you adhere strictly to all regulations and protocols. We need to remain vigilant and ensure that we protect ourselves and those around us.

Kind regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

25 November 2020: Communication to students residing in NWU residences and private accredited accommodation

Important information for students residing in NWU residences and private accredited accommodation

Dear student

The extension of the 2020 academic year beyond the calendar year requires additional arrangements for students in NWU residences and those in private accredited accommodation. Coupled with this remains the issue of fees due for staying in NWU residences and the impact of the lockdown due to Covid-19. I would like to give you an update on the most pertinent issues.

Payment of residence fees for 2020 and the impact of the lockdown due to Covid-19

Following engagements with other institutions of higher learning and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) on Monday, 23 November 2020, the NWU Management is now in the final stages of a process to consider the financial impact of the lockdown due to Covid-19 relating to residence fees charged to residence students for 2020. The Gazetted directives issued by the DHET on 5 October 2020, as well as the additional clarity obtained from the DHET together with the higher education sector regarding this issue, must also be incorporated in any decision on this matter. Together with this, the additional costs associated with both the prevention of the spread of Covid-19 and the extension of the academic year until January 2021 (effectively increasing the residence accommodation period for certain students) will also be taken into consideration. Further communication will follow as soon as this matter has been finalised.

Arrangements for accommodation during the period 18 December 2020 to 4 January 2021

The general principle is that accommodation in NWU residences will be available to each student, registered to a residence, until 48 hours after completion of the last examination paper of such student. The directive issued by the DHET requires all accredited accommodation suppliers to extend the 2020 accommodation arrangements, at no additional cost to the students, until the completion of the academic year, thus the same arrangements will apply to students staying in such accommodation.

The end of a student’s academic year depends on the last exam to be written. This may include a second opportunity examination scheduled in the period 4 – 15 January 2021. Owners of private accredited accommodation facilities were advised that students should be allowed to remain in their accommodation facilities until the final examination is written. Students must be able to provide proof of a second opportunity examination to be written.

Academic year completion on 15 January 2021

Students who are required to attend the Summer School from 4 to 15 January 2021 will be identified with the assistance of the various faculties, and residence accommodation, as well as private accredited accommodation, will be available until the end of the Summer School. Special arrangements will be made for the following categories as they were the only students identified to make use of this:

  • Nursing students: Name lists of nursing students who require NWU residence accommodation have been supplied to the residence departments and they will be allowed to remain in residences. It may however be necessary to move all the nursing students to a central residence. The affected students will be informed accordingly. The names of students who reside in private accredited accommodation will be supplied to the owners of those accommodation facilities.
  • Accounting students: Name lists of accounting students who require NWU residence accommodation will be supplied to the residence departments by the faculty once their names have been submitted and they will be allowed to remain in residences. The names of students who reside in private accredited accommodation will be supplied to the owners of those accommodation facilities.  
  • Animal Health final-year students: Name lists of Animal Health final-year students who require NWU residence accommodation will be supplied to the residence departments by the faculty once it is known and they will be allowed to remain in residences. The names of students who reside in private accredited accommodation will be supplied to these facilities.
  • Engineering final-year students: A few final year Engineering students will be provided with accommodation once identified. If there are students residing in private accredited accommodation, their names will be supplied to these facilities.

The NWU remains committed to put all possible measures in place to ensure your completion of the 2020 academic year. It must however be stressed again that students with no academic needs will not be allowed to remain in any of the NWU residences, and the same will apply to private accredited accommodation.

Regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor   

24 November 2020: Teaching and learning in 2021

Dear student

We have been receiving inquiries about the teaching and learning arrangements for 2021 considering the continued risks of Covid-19. As much as management would like to give you a clearer answer in these uncertain times regarding what the future of higher education will look like in 2021, it is just not possible.

Since September this year, we have been working on various scenarios as to how teaching and learning will be presented during 2021. 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 the NWU refers to as a “limited contact teaching-learning modality”), which means certain classes will be online, some in contact or face-to-face mode, and others, a combination of contact and online.

Should the Covid-19 virus be contained to the point that none of the Covid-19 protocols may need to be observed, a normal timetable would be available to faculties – plans are already in place to address this possibility. In such a case, faculties would work with the 70/30 principle for contact programmes, where 30% of the credits of a programme would be offered fully online, while 70% of the credits of a programme would be offered in a normal face-to-face environment with a blended teaching and learning approach as relevant to the nature and scope of the module.

Should the coronavirus still be regarded as a national threat and require compliance with applicable protocols, another set of principles would drive the teaching-learning situation. Due to limited availability of Covid-19- compliant venues (physical distancing capacity and ventilation requirements, completion of contact lists for contact tracing if necessary), cleaning of venues between lectures and time slots and other factors would render the 70/30 contact/online presentation not implementable. Under such circumstances, modules that have no critical need for face-to-face sessions would be presented fully online. However, there would still be those modules within a programme that would necessitate purposeful face-to-face contact sessions (with online components). Laboratory, workshop or practical sessions would continue as normal.

Module assessments would continue to be, as far as possible, taken in the online mode. Required invigilated sit-down assessments would be prioritised for modules or programmes that require compliance with relevant statutory body or authority requirements.

I want to assure you that we are committed to continue to put all possible measures in place to ensure that you have optimal opportunity to continue with your studies in 2021, as was done during this year. Our approach is in line with that of other higher education institutions in the country, and we are sufficiently agile to adapt according to changing circumstances. The Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) of the Council on Higher Education has also extended the concession allowing higher education institutions to take the programmes that were accredited by the HEQC for the contact mode of provisioning, and offer them through online distance/blended modes of provisioning during the 2021 academic year.

We obviously want to get back to a situation where we can continue as normal. However, it is just not ideal now and it may remain so for a considerable period. We are, of course, like many across the globe, encouraged by the advances in vaccine research and remain optimistic that these developments would save lives and help us to return to normality.

Until then, let us work together towards a successful teaching and learning environment in 2021.  I also wish to remind you that if any further information is needed on the modules that would need both contact and online sessions, and those that would be presented only in the online mode, to take up contact with your faculty.

All the best to all who are still busy with their final assessments.

We look forward to welcoming all our returning students in February 2021!

Regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor   

3 November 2020: Covid-19 Compliance Monitoring Teams Deployed on Campuses

Dear staff and students

As of today, 3 November 2020, you will notice members of the University’s Covid-19 Compliance Monitoring Team (UCCMT), doing patrols across our campuses, especially in areas where there are high volumes of people.

On several occasions, since the reintegration of staff and students on the NWU campuses under lockdown alert level 1, there have been numerous reports of persons not complying with the Health and Safety Protocols, especially in terms of maintaining social distancing and the wearing of face masks.

The purpose of the UCCMT is to create awareness around individual accountability and responsibility and encourage a proactive approach to ensure compliance with the NWU’s Covid-19 protocols as well as national regulations.

The teams will mainly consist of colleagues from the Department of Protection Services, other staff members as well as students. They will be clearly identifiable, wearing yellow and silver reflector vests marked “NWU Covid-19 Monitoring Team.”

The primary duties of the monitoring teams include:

  • To conduct high visibility patrols in “hot spot” areas
  • To encourage the NWU campus communities to wear face masks and to maintain social distance; and
  • To use the engagement with transgressors for education purposes and record such engagements to establish trends with respect to non-compliance.

To ensure compliance with the COVID-19 protocols, the UCCMTs across our campuses may recommend punitive measures for extreme cases on non-compliance. I urge you to comply with all the protocols and to cooperate with members of the UCCMTs to ensure the safety and well-being of all stakeholders on our campuses.

Please keep safe.

Regards,

Prof. Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

20 October 2020: Students must remain vigilant in the fight against Covid-19

Dear NWU student

We are not out of the woods yet in terms of the coronavirus and its impact on our lives. Danger is still lurking; thus, caution remains paramount. With the recess around the corner, I would like to thank you for the exceptional way you have handled your academic work during this pandemic. I am proud of your effort and the perseverance you have shown during this unprecedented time. You deserve some time off to reflect, relax and enjoy with your friends and loved ones. However, you should keep in mind the continuous assessments that follow the recess. 

I must also say that it saddens me that not all of us have been complying with the regulations and protocols that have been put in place to keep us safe from the coronavirus and curb its spread. This is reflected in the growing number of students who have contracted this awful virus. Remember, your actions will have a direct and even terrible impact on you and those around you.

If the growth in the number of infections continues as it is currently the case, we might get to a situation where we will have no other option but to place the entire residence(s) in quarantine. We may also be compelled to close all or some of our campuses. 

We, in South Africa, like many other countries around the world may experience the second wave of infections; hence we must do everything that is humanly possible to keep safe and curb the spread of the virus. I know it has not been easy and the road ahead remains unclear and unpredictable. Let us continue to be resilient and comply with all protocols and guidelines.  

Taking into consideration the increasing number of infections on some of our campuses, it may be appropriate for you to reconsider leaving your campus(es) for your home or any other place(s) during this upcoming recess. In the interest of your own safety and that of your family and friends, it is advisable for you to consider staying on your campus in order to manage the infection risks. We really need you to complete this academic year successfully without any problems related to the coronavirus.

Please let us continue to comply with the university’s protocols that are designed for the sole purpose of curbing the spread of the virus and saving our lives. We owe it to ourselves, our families and friends.

Please take care.

Prof. Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor 

 

9 October 2020: Students disciplined for non-compliance to Covid-19 regulations

Since March this year, the university management has constantly made it clear that the top priority throughout the lockdown period is to ensure the health and safety of all our stakeholders. Following the announcement of lockdown level 1, all students have been allowed to return to campuses in accordance with the university’s student reintegration plan.  This implies that the number of students on our campuses and residences has increased.

Now more than ever, we must remain vigilant in ensuring that the national guidelines as well as our own protocols aimed at curbing the spread of this pandemic are adhered to. I must commend the thousands of students who are adhering to the protocols. However, there are those who are disregarding the guidelines and protocols and are acting irresponsibly and knowingly exposing others to the virus. This is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We must be aware that in terms of our country’s legislation, deliberate and negligent spread of the coronavirus may lead to criminal prosecution. It is our duty to ensure that staff and students on our campuses are safe and continue to perform their activities without fear. We will continue to hold accountable the individuals making themselves guilty of such offences.

We have already instituted some actions in terms of our disciplinary procedures against several students across our campuses. Some of these cases are still underway.

Since the first group of students returned under lockdown level 3 up until this week, 51 students have been charged and found guilty on a variety of offences related to breach of Covid-19 protocols. The following sanctions were imposed to the students:

  • ‘Suspended suspension’ for the remainder of the semester, coupled with community service: 26
  • Suspended from the residence until the end of the semester: 1
  • Community service: 7
  • Warning: 17

In addition, cases against 14 students are currently underway and should be finalised soon.

We have invited the students to return to campuses to ensure that they can continue their participation in laboratory, workshop or practical work, and to accommodate those who are faced with unconducive circumstances such as lack of connectivity and data. These arrangements are made with the sole purpose of allowing students the opportunity to successfully complete the academic year.

Apart from adhering to the protocols and directives, the need to adhere to the daily screening procedure via the screening App, prior to entering our campuses, cannot be overemphasised.

Even though students are allowed to return, we are very far from going back to what circumstances usually allowed us. Things will most probably never be the same, and we must adapt accordingly.

I know that I can rely on the support of all members of the NWU family to act in accordance with the university’s ethic of care and solidarity to one another during this challenging and uncertain time.

Once again, please take note of the following directives and protocols:

Please let us play our part. Be safe and protect yourself and those around you.

 

Regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-chancellor

 

7 October 2020: Government Gazette National Framework for Tuition and Accommodation Fees

Please see the directions for a national framework for tuition and accommodation fees for academic year 2020 in the public higher education institutions as was published in the Government Gazette on 5 October 2020. The NWU is busy to study and analyse the received directives with the view to internalise the implementation thereof and make a recommendation to the University Management Committee. As soon as this has been finalised, further communication will follow with affected students.  

25 September 2020: Full details: Return of students to our campuses under lockdown level 1

Based on the announcement of lockdown level 1 that will come into effect at midnight on 20 September 2020, the university will now commence with our final phase of the reintegration plan for students. Phase 3 student return entails the return of a further 33% of the student cohort bringing the total number of students who are allowed back at the university campuses to 100%.

It is of the utmost importance to realise that we are still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and, although all students can now return to campus, our “new normal” on campus will still include strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols. On our campuses and in the manner we teach and learn, things will not be as they were before Covid-19 entered our lives. The world is a different place and we need to adapt to a new way of doing things. We have to remain vigilant against the spread of the virus, and we cannot relax our guard.

Therefore, even when back on the campuses, practical and laboratory work will only be available under very limited and controlled circumstances and in modules where it is absolutely necessary. Due to the national restrictions still being in place, student life will also not continue as in the past.

Even though all our students will be allowed to return, the university will continue to provide teaching in the online modality. You are thus not compelled to return to campus if you can continue with your studies from home via the online modality, or if you are fearful of your wellness and safety.


Adherence to safety measures:

Upon your return to campus, you will be expected to adhere to all measures put in place by the university to manage the infection risks and to curb the spread of the coronavirus. It must be emphasised again that all measures that are put in place as part of the reintegration of our students are done with the primary aim of working towards the successful completion of the academic programme, while simultaneously ensuring a healthy and safe environment. You are expected to act responsibly, not only in your own interest, but also to protect our colleagues, fellow students and our families. In this regard take note of the following.

How will you be notified to return:

All students who have not previously been invited back under phases 1 and 2 of our reintegration plan, may return to campuses as from 27 September. No further permits or permission letters will be issued. However, if you are in a position to continue with your online learning, you are requested to seriously consider this option.

Limited on-campus contact teaching-learning modality (what it means):

Due to the fact that social distancing regulations are still strictly to be adhered to (concerning limited numbers of persons in the same space not being allowed, and two meter distances having to be observed), each faculty will provide advice about which programmes will remain online, in order to allow that we can effect a limited contact-teaching modality in selected other programmes.

Limited contact teaching means that students on campuses will be working in smaller groups in instances such as in science laboratories, computer laboratories, clinical settings and on the animal farm, and according to a certain time table that will be communicated. It also means that certain smaller groups of students may have access to workshops where such is deemed essential for the students to progress with their studies, and in venues where the Covid-19 protocols can be observed. Postgraduate students may be able to schedule one-on-one sessions with their supervisors and promoters, and undergraduate students may make use of libraries and available facilities therein to study and to use resources.

Obviously, all students on campuses have access to NWU wifi.

Furthermore, assessment sittings will be organised in modules that would require such and the information on these would be communicated in good time to involved students. As per university regulations, all Covid-19 protocols will be observed for these sittings.

Note that the 2020 academic year would continue into January 2021 for certain programmes, and the particulars of such arrangements would also be communicated by faculties to involved students.

For faculty-specific guidelines, please visit faculty eFundi sites regularly, and be in contact with your module lecturers if you have any queries as to the manner in which teaching, learning and assessment would be conducted for the remainder of 2020, and into the commencement of 2021.

Consequences for declining the invitation to return to campus:

Students who have received an invitation to return to campuses as part of the phase 1 and 2 reintegration plan, or then the open invitation in terms of lockdown level 1, have the right to decline the invitation. However, such a decision must be considered very carefully because of the possible consequences thereof. These may include, but are not limited to the following instances, namely

  • that compulsory lab/field/practical/clinical work or statutory body requirements such as sit-down assessments in November, December or January in certain modules of a programme may not be possible to take if the student is not on campus, with the consequence that such module is not completed by the end of the academic year, meaning that the student would be required to re-register for such in 2021 and to pay the necessary module fees; also that
  • the print-based distance modality in certain modules would not be available to students in the second semester.


Students who only need to return for a sit-down assessment opportunity in Nov/Dec or even in January, can choose to remain at home and study online until the time of such assessment opportunity. Faculties will communicate clearly with students in particular programmes in regard of the reasons for return to campus.

Campus-based residences and off-campus accommodation:

You will be allowed to return to campus-based residences, or off-campus accommodation (as arranged with your landlord). At the campus-based residences, you will be met by your house parent and house committee members where further instructions will be supplied. Strict measures will be in place and you will be expected to sign an acceptance form before you are allowed into the residence. Please make sure that you read and understand this protocol that will apply upon your return to campus-based residences. 

Campus facilities:

We are working hard to ensure that all spaces to which our staff and students will return will be safe and secure. Access to all campus facilities including the library, laboratories and PC labs will be subject to the strict adherence of health and safety protocols.

Library

PC labs


Precautionary measures:

Students who are sick or ill should not return. The same applies to vulnerable students with comorbidities or underlying health conditions according to guidelines published by government. National guidelines such as the wearing of masks and frequent hand-sanitising should be adhered to at all times. There will be daily screening of all students, staff and visitors at all entrances of the university. All the necessary protocols including hygiene and social distancing protocols will be compulsory for everyone on campus. Please see the following protocols and directives which must be strictly adhered to:

Formal and informal sports events, gatherings and meetings

Physical distancing

Completing the relevant Covid-19 training and passing the test with a 100% mark, is one of the prerequisites for access to NWU campuses. The material as well as the test is available on eFundi. Access is gained by logging onto eFundi at http://efundi.nwu.ac.za and following the link Covid-19 Training for people who need to enter the NWU in the “Message of the Day” section on the eFundi landing page. A more detailed procedure can be found here.
 

Isolation:

If a student in a residence is tested positive for Covid-19, the student must immediately vacate the facility either to a state isolation facility or to his/her home if approved by the Department of Health for an isolation period of 14 days. The room of the student will be closed for 24 hours until it can be cleaned by a professional cleaning team.  As all the students in that particular residence would potentially have had contact with the infected individual, the whole residence will be quarantined or treated as a quarantine site for 14 days. Other contacts may also be required to be quarantined.

Isolation protocol
 

International Students:

Please note that all international students who have been outside the country during the lockdown will now be able to return, due to the fact that the restrictions on international travel have changed. Please contact us at GlobalEngagement@nwu.ac.za for assistance or information regarding regulations that have to be adhered to. Returning international students will need to meet the requirements of the regulations (such as to take a Covid-19 test not older than 72 hours indicating that the person is negative for the virus on arrival) to be able to enter, otherwise they will go into quarantine at their own expense for at least 10 days.
 

Update your details:

Please make sure that your contact details are updated on the university student system. If this is not done, it results in a breakdown of communication with you, and we want to prevent this at all cost. You can do this by accessing the DIY portal at http://diyservices.nwu.ac.za/

Final word:

Even though we would like to get back to a situation where the vibrant student life of the NWU becomes a reality again, the health and safety of our students and staff remain our first priority. We have to act responsibly in our best interest as individuals, but also to protect ourselves, fellow students and our families.

In line with our ethic of care, please play your part. Be safe and protect yourself and those around you.

Kind regards,

Prof Dan Kgwadi
Principal and Vice-chancellor

 

18 September 2020: Return of students to our campuses: Lockdown level 1

Based on the announcement of lockdown level 1 that will come into effect at midnight on 20 September 2020, the university will now commence with our final phase of the reintegration plan for students. Phase 3 student return entails the return of a further 33% of the student cohort bringing the total number of students who are allowed back at the university campuses to 100%.

This communique serves to give broad information regarding our next phase of the reintegration of students, and more detail will follow soon.

It is of the utmost importance to realise that we are still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and, although all students can now return to campus, our “new normal” on campus will still include strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols. On our campuses and in the manner we teach and learn, things will not be as they were before Covid-19 entered our lives. The world is a different place and we need to adapt to a new way of doing things. We have to remain vigilant against the spread of the virus, and we cannot relax our guard.

Therefore, even when back on the campuses, practical and laboratory work will only be available under very limited and controlled circumstances and in modules where it is absolutely necessary. Due to the national restrictions still being in place, student life will also not continue as in the past.

Even though all our students will be allowed to return, the university will continue to provide teaching in the online modality. You are thus not compelled to return to campus if you can continue with your studies from home via the online modality, or if you are fearful of your wellness and safety.

Adherence to safety measures:

Upon your return to campus, you will be expected to adhere to all measures put in place by the university to manage the infection risks and to curb the spread of the coronavirus. It must be emphasised again that all measures that are put in place as part of the reintegration of our students are done with the primary aim of working towards the successful completion of the academic programme, while simultaneously ensuring a healthy and safe environment.

How will you be notified to return:

All students who have not previously been invited back under phases 1 and 2 of our reintegration plan, may return to campuses as from 27 September. No further permits or permission letters will be issued. However, if you are in a position to continue with your online learning, you are requested to seriously consider this option. Full details regarding the conditions of return will be communicated soon.

Limited on-campus contact teaching-learning modality (what it means):

Due to the fact that social distancing regulations are still strictly to be adhered to (concerning limited numbers of persons in the same space not being allowed, and two meter distances having to be observed), each faculty will provide advice about which programmes will remain online, in order to allow that we can effect a limited contact-teaching modality in selected other programmes.

Limited contact teaching means that students on campuses will be working in smaller groups in instances such as in science laboratories, computer laboratories, clinical settings and on the animal farm, and according to a certain time table that will be communicated. It also means that certain smaller groups of students may have access to workshops where such is deemed essential for the students to progress with their studies, and in venues where the Covid-19 protocols can be observed. Postgraduate students may be able to schedule one-on-one sessions with their supervisors and promoters, and undergraduate students may make use of libraries and available facilities therein to study and to use resources.

Obviously, all students on campuses have access to NWU wifi.

Furthermore, assessment sittings will be organised in modules that would require such and the information on these would be communicated in good time to involved students. As per university regulations, all Covid-19 protocols will be observed for these sittings.

Note that the 2020 academic year would continue into January 2021 for certain programmes, and the particulars of such arrangements would also be communicated by faculties to involved students.

For faculty-specific guidelines, please visit faculty eFundi sites regularly, and be in contact with your module lecturers if you have any queries as to the manner in which teaching, learning and assessment would be conducted for the remainder of 2020, and into the commencement of 2021.

Consequences for declining the invitation to return to campus:

Students who have received an invitation to return to campuses as part of the phase 1 and 2 reintegration plan, or then the open invitation in terms of lockdown level 1, have the right to decline the invitation. However, such a decision must be considered very carefully because of the possible consequences thereof. These may include, but are not limited to the following instances, namely

  • that compulsory lab/field/practical/clinical work or statutory body requirements such as sit-down assessments in November, December or January in certain modules of a programme may not be possible to take if the student is not on campus, with the consequence that such module is not completed by the end of the academic year, meaning that the student would be required to re-register for such in 2021 and to pay the necessary module fees; also that
  • the print-based distance modality in certain modules would not be available to students in the second semester.


Students who only need to return for a sit-down assessment opportunity in Nov/Dec or even in January, can choose to remain at home and study online until the time of such assessment opportunity. Faculties will communicate clearly with students in particular programmes in regard of the reasons for return to campus.

International Students:

Please note that all international students who have been outside the country during the lockdown will now be able to return, due to the fact that the restrictions on international travel have changed. Please contact us at GlobalEngagement@nwu.ac.za for assistance or information regarding regulations that have to be adhered to. Returning international students will need to meet the requirements of the regulations (such as to take a Covid-19 test not older than 72 hours indicating that the person is negative for the virus on arrival) to be able to enter, otherwise they will go into quarantine at their own expense for at least 10 days.

It is important that you update your details:

Please make sure that your contact details are updated on the university student system. If this is not done, it results in a breakdown of communication with you, and we want to prevent this at all cost. You can do this by accessing the DIY portal at http://diyservices.nwu.ac.za.

Final word:

Even though we would like to get back to a situation where the vibrant student life of the NWU becomes a reality again, the health and safety of our students and staff remain our first priority. We have to act responsibly in our best interest as individuals, but also to protect ourselves, fellow students and our families

In line with our ethic of care, please play your part. Be safe and protect yourself and those around you.

Kind regards,

Prof Linda du Plessis

Acting Vice-chancellor

 

7 September 2020: Students suspended due to violation of Covid-19 protocols

Dear student

As part of the implementation of our stance of adopting a zero-tolerance approach towards contraventions of Covid-19 protocols and directives, we are currently in the process of acting in terms of our disciplinary procedures against 22 students across our three campuses. Many of these students have already been temporarily suspended, pending the finalisation of the hearings. The suspensions included them being requested to vacate their residences on the campuses.

Since the end of August, we have invited another cohort of students to return to campus as part of our phase two reintegration plan which is aligned with Government directives. This implies that the number of students on our campuses and residences has increased.

We invited the students to return to campuses to ensure that they can continue their participation in laboratory, workshop or practical work, and also to accommodate those students who are faced with unconducive or changed circumstances at home. These arrangements are made with the sole purpose of allowing students the opportunity to successfully complete the academic year.

The increased number of students back on our campuses necessitates us to be more vigilant in ensuring that national guidelines as well as NWU protocols, aimed at curbing the spread of this pandemic, are adhered to.

In all our communication, I have constantly emphasised the need to act responsibly in our best interest as individuals, but also to protect ourselves, fellow students and our families. Even though the majority of our student population are acting responsibly, there have been reported instances in which some of our students are acting irresponsibly and knowingly exposed others to the virus. This is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We must be aware that in terms of our country’s legislation, deliberate and negligent spread of the coronavirus may lead to criminal prosecution. It is our duty to ensure that staff and students on our campuses are safe and continue to perform their activities without fear.

Apart from adhering to the protocols and directives, the need to adhere to the daily screening procedure via the screening App, prior to entering our campuses, cannot be overemphasised.

Even though students are allowed to return, we are very far from going back to what circumstances usually allowed us. Things will most probably never be the same, and we have to adapt to this.

I know that I can rely on the support of all members of the NWU family to act in accordance with the university’s ethic of care and our solidarity in reacting to our current circumstances.

Please again take note of the following directives and protocols:

Please let us play our part. Be safe and protect yourself and those around you.

Regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Vice-chancellor and Principal

 

21 August 2020: Communication to returning students

Al students identified by the university to return as part of phase 2 of our student reintegration plan, will be communicated with shortly. These students will receive an individual message via sms or email, and will have to follow the process as will be outlined.
 
Even though the second semester commences on 24 August, students identified as part of the next cohort to return, and who are residing in campus residences, will only be allowed to return as from 27 August. This is to ensure that all regulations relating to health and safety are adhered to by the university. Once identified students have completed the online questionnaire, their return has been approved, and they have received confirmation, they may return. It must be emphasised that the next cohort of students can only return between 27 and 30 August 2020.
 
Please note that no practical or laboratory work will commence before 31 August.
 
As soon as all measures are in place, you will be informed.
 
Kind regards
NWU Management

17 August 2020: Phased return of students to NWU campuses (Lockdown level 2)

In alignment with Government directives, the NWU developed a schedule for the phased return of students to NWU campuses at lock-down level 3, and at subsequent levels. Phase 1 was completed, and included in the invitation to return were:

  • Most final year under graduate and post graduate students in the faculties of Health Sciences, Engineering and Natural and Agricultural Sciences where laboratory or practical work is a requirement for completion of final year modules.
  • Selected groups in the faculties of Health Sciences, Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Humanities, Education, Engineering and Economic and Management Sciences where statutory requirements needed students to be returned for clinical as well as other placements, or specialised software uses only available in computer laboratories on a campus, or specialised tests.

In addition to the above mentioned groups, all students who had identified themselves as experiencing connectivity problems (for reasons of remoteness) or personal problems (for reasons of difficulties to study effectively at home) were also invited to return.

The university sent out personal invitations to all students who were part of the above groups. The number of invited students for phase 1 return was within the allowed 33% limit.

Students who have been invited back in the phase 1 return, have been given until 17 August to accept the invitation, and will be accommodated for return during either the commencement of semester 2 on 24 August, or later during the academic year.

Students who will be invited to return as part of phase 2 of the NWU student reintegration plan (Lockdown Level 2):

Based on the announcement of lockdown level 2 by the President on 15 August, the university will now commence with our phase 2 of the reintegration plan for students. In terms of the phase 2 planning the university confirmed its understanding of student reintegration with the DHET on 7 July. Phase 2 student return entails the return of a further 33% of the student cohort (based on selection criteria) bringing the total students back at the university campuses to a maximum of 66%.

The following groups have been prioritised for return during phase 2:

  • Year 1 and 2 students participating in clinical work for a limited contact teaching modality;
  • Year 1, 2 and 3 students in all faculties participating in laboratory, workshop, or practical work for a limited contact teaching modality, and
  • Postgraduate students and the remainder of the final year students requiring access to the library and/or PC labs.
  • Further cases of students requesting to return due to unconducive/changed circumstances at home.

Consequences for declining the invitation to return to campus:

Students who have received an invitation to return to campuses as part of the phase 1 and 2 reintegration plan have the right to decline the invitation. However, such a decision must be considered very carefully because of the consequences thereof. These include:

That;

  • compulsory Lab/field/practical work or statutory body requirements in certain modules of a programme will not have been completed by the end of semester 1, meaning that the student may not complete these modules; thus required to be re-registered in 2021, and paying the necessary module fees; and
  • the print-based distance modality in certain modules, may not be available to them in the second semester.

Students not invited back:

Students who have not been invited back under alert levels 3 and 2, will remain supported in the online mode, or in exceptional circumstances, the printed distance modality until they are allowed back under the directives of alert level 1.

How will you be notified to return:

Please note that a process will be followed soon to notify students allowed back under alert level 2. You do not have to contact the university – we will keep you informed and notify you as soon as possible. As restrictions regarding cross-provincial travel have been lifted, no permit is required. Identified students will however be issued with a permission letter from the university to ensure that requirements are adhered to. Students will not be allowed access without this permission letter.

Once finally approved, identified students can return between 26 and 31 August 2020. In order to avoid long queues where social distancing may be compromised, students are kindly requested to adhere to the dates which will be supplied to them.  No practical or laboratory work will commence before 31 August.

Students invited to return as part of phase 3 of the NWU student reintegration plan (Lock-down Level 1):

  • Remaining students in the following faculties: Health Sciences, Economic and Management Sciences, Education, Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Engineering, and for selected programmes in Humanities, Law and Theology where a limited contact teaching modality is required for completion of the programme;
  • Phase 3 will start when the country moves to lockdown Level 1 and this time line cannot be confirmed until then.

The principle remains that all students not undertaking studies included in all of the above, and who opt not to return for personal reasons, will remain supported in the online modality, or in exceptional circumstances, the print-based distance modality until the amendment of the directives. 

Phase 1, 2 & 3 (when announced): Limited contact teaching-learning modality (what it means):

Due to the fact that social distancing regulations are still to be adhered to (concerning limited numbers of persons in the same space not being allowed, and two metre distances having to be observed), the NWU will provide advice about which programmes will remain online, such that we can effect a limited contact-teaching modality in selected other programmes. It must again be emphasised that for both phases 1 & 2, students electing not to return to campus to continue with their programmes, will not be compelled to do so. That noted, students identified to return to commence programmes in which laboratory work is required, will in electing not to return to campus, need to understand that this will mean that they will not be able to complete their programmes. In this latter respect, faculties will indicate such needs for limited contact teaching within specific guidelines.

These faculty-specific guidelines will be communicated with all students.

International Students:

Please note that all international students who have been outside the country during the lockdown will only be able to return to campuses under Level 1 of the risk adjusted strategy. Please contact us at GlobalEngagement@nwu.ac.za for assistance or information regarding restrictions for international travel and closure of South African points of entry.

Update your details:

Please make sure that your contact details are updated on the university student system. If this is not done, it results in a breakdown of communication with you, and we want to prevent this at all cost. You can do this by accessing the DIY portal at http://diyservices.nwu.ac.za

To our students who are not yet part of phases 1 and 2, please continue with your online learning programme until further notice. I know that many of you are anxious to return to the campuses, but we must ensure that we take all steps to protect you.

As soon as further guidelines are issued by the DHET, details regarding the next phase will be shared with you.

I look forward to welcoming you back at our campuses. Please keep well and stay safe.

Kind regards,

Prof Dan Kgwadi
Vice-chancellor and Principal

 

6 August 2020: Update on various issues affecting students

Dear student

We have successfully completed the first semester of the 2020 academic programme on 31 July. The University Management is aware of the challenges posed under the current circumstances, and I want to commend you for the self-discipline and perseverance you are displaying during this difficult time and the efforts you are making to excel in your academic work.

We have also completed our Winter School which was another intervention to assist our students especially those who had not been able to effectively participate in the online programme due to problems experienced regarding connectivity, data as well as personal circumstances.

We will continue to implement all possible measures to ensure the successful completion of the 2020 academic year. We need your support and cooperation in order to achieve this.

Return to campus:

In alignment with Government directives, we have developed a schedule for the phased return of students to our campuses during level 3 of the lock-down, and at subsequent levels.

Following the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation’s directives that 33% of students may return to university campuses, we invited the relevant students who were identified as part of phase 1 of the reintegration plan at the beginning of June 2020. Students who have not been invited to return to our campuses will remain supported via the online mode or, in exceptional circumstances, the print-based distance modality until the amendment of the directives.  

Students who have been invited to return during phase 1 and have, to date, not accepted the invitation, have until 17 August to do so. In this regard, we have communicated the information with the relevant students. Those who accept the invitation will be included on the list of students who are anticipated to return either during the commencement of semester 2 on 24 August or when required based on scheduled laboratory work. Those students who have declined the invitation to return as part of phase 1 and now want to return for the second semester can again exercise their choice to return should they need to, also before 17 August.

We will update you accordingly regarding phase 2 of the reintegration plan as soon as the announcement has been made by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation and the applicable regulations published.

Consequences for declining the invitation to return to campus

Students who have received an invitation to return to campuses as part of the phase 1 reintegration plan have the right to decline the invitation. However, such a decision must be considered very carefully because of the consequences thereof. These include:

That;

  • compulsory Lab/field/practical work or statutory body requirements in certain modules of a programme will not have been completed by the end of semester 1, meaning that the student may not complete these modules; thus required to be re-registered in 2021, and paying the necessary module fees; and
  • The print-based distance modality in certain modules, may not be available to them in the second semester.

Payment of tuition and residence fees:

We fully appreciate our obligations towards our stakeholders including students. We remain unfortunately unable to offer regular services such as contact classes due to circumstances beyond our control. However, like many of our students and their parents and sponsors, we would like to see the successful completion of the academic year. For this reason, we have put in place a range of measures that include the provision of online learning, devices, data, print material, winter/summer schools and the reconfiguration of the academic year to catch up lost time. Many of these measures are at a significant additional cost to the university.

With regard to the residence fees, we are working on the assumption that the residence accommodation for current students will be extended until 2021. Our plans must make provision for the anticipated extension of the academic year in the interest of our students. This is a matter that has potential ramifications for the entire higher education sector in our country. To this end, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), in consultation with higher education institutions, embarked on a process to compile a set of guidelines that will be implemented by all institutions of higher learning. The department indicated that these would be made available to the sector during August. Once these are available, they will be shared with relevant stakeholders.

In light of the above, we are not in a position to make any firm decisions on the issue of repayment/discount of residence fees at this stage, and students are kindly requested to continue to fulfil their obligations. We value your support in this regard.

Please direct student account and bursary enquiries to:

Mahikeng Campus : mc-studyfees@nwu.ac.za

Potchefstroom Campus : PC-studyfees@nwu.ac.za

Vanderbijlpark Campus : vaalaccounts@nwu.ac.za

2020 and 2021 academic calendars:

The second semester of the 2020 academic calendar is scheduled to commence on 24 August. The end date for the second semester has not been determined yet and will most probably differ per faculty. All indications are that this will run into December and there is also a possibility that the completion of some modules will run over into the beginning of 2021, with the inclusion of a Summer School. The revised academic calendar will be communicated as soon as it has been finalised and approved by Council and Senate.

Regarding the 2021 calendar, the dates announced by the Minister of Basic Education form the basis from which the university is working. The dates for the commencement of the academic year will be finalised shortly and will also be communicated. However, preliminary discussions are leaning towards a differentiation in dates for returning senior students and first-year students. Returning students will in all probability start on an earlier date. As soon as the calendar has been approved, registration dates will also be made available.

Residence placements:

All students who are currently in residences will remain in their allocated rooms for the current academic year, even if the academic year runs over to 2021. With regard to placements for the 2021 academic year, we are busy developing a revised set of placement criteria that will accommodate the change in circumstances. Once finalised, the criteria will be communicated and ample time allowed for students to apply for a place in the residences. Prospective first year students will apply as normal as part of the application and admission process which is scheduled to close on 30 September 2020.

Personal belongings in residences:

As indicated previously, students are invited back to the campuses and residences in terms of the university's reintegration plan which is in alignment with national regulations. Students who have not yet been invited back to campus as part of phase 1, will be accommodated in terms of the next phases, as and when the university will be allowed to do so. In the unlikely event of students not being invited back to campus at all during the 2020 academic year, arrangements will be made for students to collect their personal belongings. In the meantime, urgent requests regarding this matter are being handled on a case by case situation.

Term of office of the current student leadership:

Permission has been granted in accordance with the NWU SRC Constitution that the term of office of the current student leadership be extended for a reasonable time to allow for an optimised 2020/2021 student leadership nomination and election process. This decision was taken due to the fact that the current situation would not make it possible to administer the conventional election processes. The new process will commence towards the end of August and will run into December 2020. The final dates for the nomination and election for different structures will be communicated soon.

Update your details:

Please make sure that your contact details are updated on the university student system. If this is not done, it results in a breakdown of communication with you, and we want to prevent this at all cost, especially if you need to be informed regarding your possible return. You can do this by accessing the DIY portal at http://diyservices.nwu.ac.za/

It must be emphasised that all measures put in place as part of the reintegration of our students, are done with the primary aim of working towards the successful completion of the academic programme, while simultaneously ensuring a healthy and safe environment.

To our students who are not yet part of phase 1, please continue with your online learning programme until further notice. I know that many of you are anxious to return to the campuses, but we must ensure that we take all steps to protect you.

As soon as further guidelines are issued by the DHET, details regarding the next phase will be shared with you.

I look forward to welcoming you back at our campuses. Please keep well and stay safe.

Kind regards,

Prof Kgwadi

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

3 Augusts 2020: New Home Affairs Directions regarding visas & permits during Level 3 Lockdown

Dear colleagues, 

On the 31st of July 2020, the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, issued amended Directions, in terms of the National State of Disaster Regulations, extending the validity period of legally issued visas, which expired during the lockdown period, to 31 October2020.

Initially, the validity period was until the 31st of July 2020, but it has now been extended until the 31st of October 2020, which means that lawfully issued visas which expired from 15 February 2020 and during the period of the lockdown are deemed to be valid until the end of October 2020.

The holders of these visas are permitted to remain in the country under the conditions of their current visas until 31 October 2020. Those wishing to be repatriated to their countries within this specific period can depart without being declared undesirable persons.

Kindly take note that the refugee reception offices, remain closed. Visa Facilitation Center (VFS) are open only by appointment for collection of outcomes on applications, which were made before the lockdown.

Should you require any further information, kindly contact your P&C Practitioner.

31 July 2020:  Message from the vice-chancellor: confirmed Covid-19 cases

As of today, Friday, 31 July 2020, we are aware of a cumulative total of 46 colleagues, students and contract workers who have tested positive for coronavirus. These persons and their families are in quarantine or self-isolation in compliance with the relevant regulations and protocols. Approximately 212 people (staff, students and contract workers) may have been in contact with persons who have tested positive. Herewith a breakdown of the figures:

Covid-19 positive persons:

Campus

Mahikeng

Potchefstroom

Vanderbijlpark

Staff

4

22

5

Students

1

10

3

Contract workers

0

0

1

We are pleased to report that 16 of the 35 persons who were positive have now recovered from the virus.

 

Contact with Covid-19 positive persons:

Campus

Mahikeng

Potchefstroom

Vanderbijlpark

Staff

14

124

9

Students

5

31

0

Contract workers

0

20

9

Of the 212 persons who have been in quarantine or self-isolation, 165 have completed the prescribed period and have been cleared. We remain cautiously optimistic and urge all members of the NWU family to adhere to the regulations and protocols that are aimed to curb the spread of this pandemic. Kindly refer to my previous communication regarding the strict compliance with directives. In this regard, a disciplinary process has commenced against one staff member and one student.

Please take care and protect yourselves and those around you. 

 

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Vice-chancellor and Principal

24 July 2020: Message from the vice-chancellor: confirmed Covid-19 cases

As of today, Friday, 24 July 2020, we are aware of a cumulative total of 35 colleagues, students and contract workers who have tested positive for coronavirus. These persons and their families are in quarantine or self-isolation in compliance with the relevant regulations and protocols. Approximately 193 people (staff, students and contract workers) may have been in contact with persons who have tested positive. Herewith a breakdown of the figures:

Covid-19 positive persons:

Campus

Mahikeng

Potchefstroom

Vanderbijlpark

Staff

3

13

4

Students

1

10

3

Contract workers

0

0

1

We are pleased to report that 16 of the 35 persons who were positive have now recovered from the virus.

 

Contact with Covid-19 positive persons:

Campus

Mahikeng

Potchefstroom

Vanderbijlpark

Staff

13

112

9

Students

4

27

0

Contract workers

0

19

9

Of the 193 persons who have been in quarantine or self-isolation, 110 of them have completed the prescribed period and have been cleared. We remain cautiously optimistic and urge all members of the NWU family to adhere to the regulations and protocols that are aimed to curb the spread of this pandemic. Kindly refer to my previous communication regarding strict compliance with directives.

Please take care and protect yourselves and those around you.

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Vice-chancellor and Principal

21 July 2020: Message from the vice-chancellor: strict compliance with directives

Colleagues, we are confronted with the devastating effects of the coronavirus and Covid-19. It is therefore imperative that we regularly assess the measures that we have put in place; and do some introspection with regard to our adherence to the national regulations as well as the NWU protocols aimed to curb the spread of this pandemic.

In all our communication, we have constantly emphasised the need to act responsibly in our best interest as individuals, but also to protect our colleagues, fellow students and our families. There have been reported instances in which some of us may have acted irresponsibly and knowingly exposed others to the virus. This is totally unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. We must be aware that in terms of our country’s legislation, deliberate and negligent spread of the coronavirus may lead to criminal prosecution. It is our duty to ensure that staff and students on our campuses are safe and continue to perform their activities without fear.

To this end, a zero-tolerance approach will be followed for anyone who enters any of our campuses knowing that he or she is COVID-19 positive or might have been in contact with a person who has tested positive. This also applies to persons displaying Covid-19 symptoms and not reporting such to the relevant structures. The need to adhere to the daily screening procedure via the screening App, prior to entering our campuses, cannot be overemphasised. This condition for access will be strictly enforced at all entrances of our campuses. 

Let me reiterate that we must support colleagues and students who have contracted the virus. In addition, I urge all of us not to stigmatise those who report their cases of infection but to take the necessary precautions as per the necessary regulations and guidelines.

I know that I can rely on the support of all members of the NWU family to act in accordance with the ethic of care and solidarity.

Please let us play our part. Be safe and protect yourself and those around you.

Regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Vice-chancellor and Principal

17 July 2020: Message from the vice-chancellor: confirmed Covid-19 cases

As on Friday, 17 July 2020, we are aware of 21 members of the NWU family who have tested positive for coronavirus. These include staff, students and contract worker(s). These colleagues and students as well as their families are in quarantine or self-isolation in compliance with the relevant regulations and protocols. A further 141 people (staff, students and contract workers) may also have been in contact with infected people. Herewith a breakdown of the figures:

 

Covid-19 positive persons:

Campus

Mahikeng

Potchefstroom

Vanderbijlpark

Staff

0

8

3

Students

1

6

2

Contract workers

0

0

1

 

Contact with Covid-19 positive persons:

Campus

Mahikeng

Potchefstroom

Vanderbijlpark

Staff

7

84

7

Students

3

18

0

Contract workers

0

13

9

Of significance is the fact that 54 persons who were either in quarantine or self-isolation have completed the prescribed periods and have been cleared. We are very grateful for this.

I want to thank all our stakeholders for their diligence in reporting these cases. It must be emphasised that many of the positive cases as well as those being in contact with positive cases, resulted from stakeholders who are not on any of our campuses. Regarding the incidents that are reported on our campuses, the necessary protocols and processes including contact-tracing are activated immediately in order to ensure the safety of everyone. I urge all of us to extend a hand of support and compassion to all our stakeholders including colleagues and students who are infected and affected by the coronavirus and other diseases. This is the time to further demonstrate our commitment to the ethic of care, not only to our colleagues and students but to the broader NWU family and friends.

In terms of our protocols, all stakeholders who may have been exposed to the coronavirus in a specific NWU building or residence are informed individually as a matter of urgency. Please continue to make use of our dedicated address, report-covid19@nwu.ac.za, to report positive cases as well as incidents of possible exposure to the virus. Once reported, we are able to offer our support to all involved.

We have a responsibility not only to ourselves but to our colleagues, fellow students and our families. Please let us adhere to national regulations as well as NWU protocols aimed to curb the spread of this pandemic. Stay abreast of our latest communiques on the Intranet (staff) at https://intranet.nwu.ac.za/ or visit the NWU’s Covid-19 page at http://www.nwu.ac.za/coronavirus for the latest updates. These are communicated regularly and you are urged to constantly keep yourself abreast.    

Please take care

Prof Dan Kgwadi
Vice-chancellor and Principal

 

10 July 2020: Confirmed Covid-19 cases

It is no longer something that we only hear or read about in the news. Now, many of us know someone who is either infected or affected by the coronavirus. We continue to urge all of us to do everything in our power to protect ourselves and those around us against this dreadful disease. Now, many of us know someone who is either infected or affected by the coronavirus. We continue to urge all of us to do everything in our power to protect ourselves and those around us against this dreadful disease. 

As on Friday, 10 July 2020, we are aware of nine people who have tested positive for coronavirus. These include staff, students and contract worker(s). These colleagues and students as well as their families are in quarantine or self-isolation in compliance with the regulations and protocols. Approximately 86 people (staff, students and contract workers) may also have been in contact with infected people. With regard to the incidents that were reported on our campuses, the necessary protocols and processes including contact-tracing were immediately activated in order to ensure the safety of stakeholders. We continue to offer support to all involved. Please continue to make use of our dedicated address, report-covid19@nwu.ac.za, to report the cases including possible exposure to the virus.  

Let us continue to observe the protocols and guidelines aimed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. We have a responsibility not only to ourselves but to our colleagues, fellow students and our families. These are not the best of times. Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones. 
Our thoughts and prayers are with all who have lost their loved ones to Covid-19 and other diseases and causes. May we find courage and strength to support each other emotionally and in any other ways during this tragic period. We wish a speedy recovery to all members of the NWU family who are currently battling the virus and its effects. 

Kindly adhere to national regulations as well as NWU protocols, including the reporting of confirmed cases or suspected contact. Stay abreast of our latest communiques on the Intranet (staff) at https://intranet.nwu.ac.za/ or visit the NWU’s Covid-19 page at http://www.nwu.ac.za/coronavirus for the latest updates. These are communicated regularly and you are urged to constantly keep yourself abreast.     

Regards
Prof Dan Kgwadi
Vice-chancellor and Principal

 

6 July 2020: Movement from campus, residences and other accommodation

Dear student,

We are inundated with students’ requests to use permits issued by the NWU for study purposes, to travel for purposes other than those stipulated in terms of the regulations. The permits issued are only for travelling from your home and the campus, as well as from campus to your home and other studies-related travel. I urge you to adhere to the national directives and the NWU protocols in order to ensure your safety, as well as that of your fellow students and staff.

It must be emphasised that students who have accepted the invitation to return to campuses and are staying in NWU residences or private accredited facilities, have made these accommodation facilities their places of residence for purposes of the Alert Level 3 lockdown period. The same applies to students who are staying in private accommodation. These students are allowed to visit the campus daily and return to their places of residence while adhering to the lockdown regulations.

All students are required to daily complete the online screening in order to gain access to the campus. In addition, there will be regular screening at the entrances to also determine access to the campuses. These interventions are implemented to ensure the health and safety of our stakeholders including students.

The national regulations published by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs on 28 May 2020 and 25 June 2020 respectively, prescribe the conditions or circumstances under which people are allowed to leave their places of residence. These include:

  • Travel to and from work
  • To buy goods or access services
  • To exercise
  • To attend a place of worship; and
  • To attend a school or learning institution.

We strongly advise against students moving in and out of the residences or on and off campus unnecessarily. Let us acknowledge that we are in the middle of a pandemic and therefore most of our usual student life activities cannot proceed as usual. We must do everything possible to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

With regard to the second semester, students will be allowed to return to NWU residences or private accredited facilities just before the commencement of the second semester which starts on 24 August 2020. The current permits will still be valid for travel purposes.

Kindly adhere to all the necessary regulations and protocols to protect yourself and your fellow students, staff and your family. Stay abreast of our latest communiques and protocols on the NWU’s Covid-19 page at http://www.nwu.ac.za/coronavirus.

Regards
Prof Dan Kgwadi
Vice-chancellor and Principal

23 June 2020: Update on various issues affecting students

Dear student,
 
I trust that you are keeping healthy and safe and busy with your online or distance education programmes. I want to also congratulate you on the way you have adapted to the various challenges and are succeeding through self-directed learning during this time. In doing so, you are assisting us in ensuring that we constructively work towards the successful completion of the academic year.
 
During phase 1 of our phased-in approach to reintegrate students to our campuses, in compliance with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) guidelines, the following constituted the first group that was eligible to return:
 
  • Final year students who require access to laboratories, technical equipment, data, connectivity and access to residence and private accommodation
  • Students in all years of study, who 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)
  • Postgraduate students who require laboratory equipment and other technical items to undertake their studies; and
  • Students who have chosen the paper-based distance modality and who live in inaccessible areas in terms of connectivity.
     
The students who qualified in terms of the above categories have started returning as from 17 June, and we have almost completed reintegrating these students.
 
At this stage it must be emphasised again that any student who can complete their online programme from home is encouraged to do so and will not be compelled to return to campus. Our academic programmes will continue to be offered online, and in the distance mode. Assessments will be conducted in such a way that you can complete them without being on campus. Unless described above, all other students will be considered for return only in terms of later phases for reintegration of students and we will be guided by the relevant Government directives. 
 
Our reintegration plan will constantly be adjusted according to regulations as announced. The reasons for this are self-explanatory, and are in the interests of our students’ health and well-being. This means that more students could be allowed back, once an announcement in this regard is made. 
 
Protocols and guidelines:
Students who have already returned, are expected to adhere to all measures put in place by the university to manage the infection risks and curb the spread of coronavirus. All the necessary protocols including hygiene and social distancing protocols will be compulsory for everyone on campus. All measures put in place as part of the reintegration of our students are done with the primary aim of working towards the successful completion of the academic programme, while simultaneously ensuring a healthy and safe environment. Any student who does not adhere to the university’s protocols and guidelines, will face measures in term of the university’s disciplinary procedures. All protocols and guidelines can be found here http://www.nwu.ac.za/coronavirus
 
Precautionary measures:
Students who are sick or ill should not return. The same applies to vulnerable students with comorbidities or underlying health conditions according to guidelines published by government. National guidelines such as the wearing of masks and frequent hand-sanitising should be adhered to at all times. There will be daily screening of all students, staff and visitors at all entrances of the university. Completing the relevant Covid-19 training and passing the test with a 100% mark, is one of the prerequisites for access to NWU campuses. The material as well as the test is available on eFundi. Access is gained by logging onto eFundi at http://efundi.nwu.ac.za and following the link COVID-19 Training for people who need to enter the NWU in the “Message of the Day” section on the eFundi landing page. A more detailed procedure can be found at https://bit.ly/373xqWM
 
Isolation:
If a student in a residence is tested positive for Covid-19, the student will be expected to immediately vacate the facility either to a state isolation facility or to his/her home if approved by the Department of Health for an isolation period of 14 days. The room of the student will be closed for 24 hours until it can be cleaned by a professional cleaning team.  As all the students in that particular residence would potentially have had contact with the infected individual, the whole residence will be quarantined or treated as a quarantine site for 14 days. Other contacts may also be required to be quarantined.
 
Permits:
Only students who were allowed to return to the campuses as part of phase 1, were issued with a permit in terms of regulations and directives from the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation. Once further announcements are made regarding the possible reintegration of students, a process will again ensue of issuing such students with permits. If any student needs to be transported to campus by a relative or friend, such request can be directed to nwu-covid-19@nwu.ac.za from where it will be handled. Students who want to return to private accommodation and who were not part of the first cohort of students allowed back, can only do so if the necessary arrangements were made with their landlord and application has been made to SAPS. The NWU cannot issue any permits in this regard. 
 
Various requests are constantly received from students who are not part of the first cohort of returning students, and who want to collect personal items from their rooms in residences. A process is currently being developed to assist such students in an organised manner to do so, and will in all probability be finalised by Friday, 26 June 2020, after which it will be communicated.
 
Students without NWU permits will not be allowed to access any of the NWU campuses.   
 
International Students: 
Please note that all international students who have been outside the country during the lockdown will only be able to return to campuses under Alert Level 1 of the risk adjusted strategy. Please contact us at GlobalEngagement@nwu.ac.za for assistance or information regarding restrictions for international travel and closure of South African points of entry.
 
Payment of tuition and residence fees:
In respect of the academic obligations the NWU has towards its students, despite the fact that it is impossible to perform certain obligations such as contact classes, due to circumstances beyond its reasonable control, the university has implemented alternative measures to mitigate the impact. These include the provision of online learning, devices, data, printed material, winter/summer schools and the reconfiguration of the academic year to catch up lost time. All of these measures are put in place to ensure the successful completion of the academic year. Many of the measures taken are at significant additional cost to the university.
   
With regard to the residence fees, it must be kept in mind that under the current circumstances, there is a possibility that the need for residence accommodation for current students might need to be extended. The university has to make provision for this, thus it is anticipated that this service will be provided to students.    
The DHET is currently busy with the compilation of a set of guidelines (with input from institutions) to be implemented by all institutions of higher learning.  Once these are available, they will be shared with stakeholders. In light of the above, it is emphasised that the university is not in a position to make any firm decisions on the issue of repayment/discount of tuition or residence fees at this stage, and students are kindly requested to continue to pay these. We value your support in this regard.
 
Update your details:
Please make sure that your contact details are updated on the university student system. If this is not done, it results in a breakdown of communication with you, and we want to prevent this at all cost. You can do this by accessing the DIY portal at http://diyservices.nwu.ac.za/
  
It must be emphasised again that all measures put in place as part of the reintegration of our students, are done with the primary aim of working towards the successful completion of the academic programme, while simultaneously ensuring a healthy and safe environment.
 
To our students who were not designated as part of Phase 1, please continue with your online learning programme until further notice. I know that many of you are anxious to return to the campuses, but we must ensure that we take all steps to protect you. We must avoid an outbreak of the virus on any of our campuses. Details regarding the next phase will be shared with you pending further guidelines issued by the DHET.
 
I want to conclude by commending you for the self-discipline and perseverance you display during this difficult time and the efforts you are making to still excel in your academic work!
 
Stay well and keep up with your studies.
 
Kind regards,
 
 
Prof Kgwadi
Vice chancellor and Principal

22 June 2020: Message from the Vice-Chancellor: First group of NWU staff and students returned

 

 

29 May 2020: Details regarding the return to campuses

Dear student,

I trust that you are keeping healthy and are busy with your online or distance education programmes.

The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation announced a risk adjusted strategy in terms of the limited return of students to universities under alert levels 4 and 3. In implementing the guidelines provided by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to all higher education institutions concerning the phased-in approach of students to campuses of the NWU, the following need to be borne in mind.

  • Any student who can complete their online programme from home is encouraged to do so and will not be compelled to return to campus. Our academic programmes will continue to be offered online, and in distance mode. Assessments will be conducted in such a way that you can complete them without being on campus.
  • Our phased-in approach in compliance with the 33% DHET guidelines is applied to each campus of the university as part of Phase 1 (Level 3 of the lockdown). Details below describe Phase 1 as it relates to teaching-learning.


Phase 1: Teaching-learning

The return to campus is applicable in Phase 1, and in compliance with the Minister’s statement to two groups of students. The first group comprises those students who need the use of specialised teaching-learning facilities or equipment. The laboratories, workshops and other facilities associated with these programmes will be subject to strict social distancing, cleaning and other protocols.

The following constitutes the first group to be considered eligible to return:

(i) Final year students who require access to labs, technical equipment, data, connectivity and access to residence and private accommodation;

(ii) Students, in all years of study, who 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); and

(iii) Postgraduate students who require lab equipment and other technical equipment to undertake their studies.

The second group included in Phase 1 and who will be allowed to return to campuses are those students who have chosen the paper-based distance modality. These students will be expected to still pursue the programme as outlined in their paper-based course-pack, and will be able to access the online resources on their return to campus, to support their studies.

The two groups have been identified in close collaboration with faculties and will be notified on 5 June via an sms. The sms from the university is your proof that you are part of the two groups of students that can return to campus as part of Phase 1. You will then also be issued with a permit the week thereafter that will allow you to travel to your campus. Please only travel to the campus after receiving your permit.

Unless described above, all other students will be considered only in terms of later phases for reintegration of students and we will be guided by the relevant Government directives. The reasons for this are self-explanatory, and are in the interests of our students and staff’ health and well-being.

Phase 1: NWU residences or off-campus accommodation

Phase 1 entails that students (in the two groups) identified above for a return to campus, will also be allowed to return to campus-based residences, or off-campus accommodation. No student, not identified as part of Phase 1, will be allowed to return to a campus-based residence. The university is not able to issue permits to students in private off-campus accommodation, who are not already part of the groups identified as part of Phase 1 and such students will also not be allowed to return to campus, and by implication will not be permitted to use campus-based facilities, or to visit students on the campuses.

There will be daily screening of all students, staff and visitors at all entrances of the university. All the necessary protocols including hygiene and social distancing protocols will be compulsory for everyone on campus. These measures are aimed to manage the infection risks and curb the spread of the virus.

Phase 1 students are expected to return between Wednesday 17 June 2020 and Sunday 21 June 2020. Students designated to return to campus will be provided with an electronic travel permit via their cell-phone number. To avoid long queues, we will indicate the particular day/s on which you are to return.

International Students: Please contact us at shernice.soobramoney@nwu.ac.za for assistance or information regarding restrictions for international travel and closure of South African points of entry

Please contact your faculty for any inquiries regarding your anticipated return to campus and to the teaching learning programme as part of Phase 1.

It must be emphasised again that all measures put in place as part of the reintegration of our students, are done with the primary aim of working towards the successful completion of the academic programme, while simultaneously ensuring a healthy and safe environment.

To our students not designated as part of Phase 1, please continue with your online learning programme until further notice. Details regarding Phase 2 (Level 2 of the lockdown) will be shared with you pending further guidelines issued by the DHET.

Stay well and keep up with your studies.

Kind regards,
 
Prof Kgwadi
Vice chancellor and Principal

25 May 2020: Impact of Level 3 announcement on the return of students

During the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation’s briefing on Saturday, 23 May, he indicated that under Level 3 of the lockdown, only a maximum of 33% of the student population will be allowed to return to campuses, delivery sites and residences on condition that they can be safely accommodated and supported in line with the applicable health and safety protocols. The following cohorts are included:
 
  • All groups that have already returned during alert Level 4.
  • Students in the final year of their programmes, who are on a path to graduating in 2020.
  • Final year students who require access to laboratories, technical equipment, data, connectivity and access to residence and private accommodation.
  • 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); and 
  • Postgraduate students who require laboratory equipment and other technical equipment to undertake their studies. 
 
In addition to the above, the Minister indicated that institutions may also consider selected return of other categories of students to residences who may face extreme difficulties in their home learning environments provided that the above categories are prioritised, and all safety and logistical requirements are met. 
 
Of great importance is the fact that the Minister made it clear that institutions will start their re-integration of students two to three weeks after the country has moved to Level 3, which is indicated to be on 1 June. This depends largely on the readiness and capacity of each institution. In other words, a period of two to three weeks will be given to allow students to travel back to their campuses and institutions to ensure that the campuses are effectively prepared for the return. The Minister also indicated that the Ministry will publish directions in terms of the Disaster Management Act to permit such travel, after which institutions will issue travel permits to identified students.
 
We have prepared a holistic plan regarding our multi-modal learning through distance and online learning, and we will continue with that to ensure that we work towards the successful completion of the academic year. The academic calendar will be published soon and this will also give our students a more detailed picture of how we envisage to move towards the completion of the year.
 
In order to adhere to the Minister’s announcement, the various faculties will now prioritise their planning in terms of which students will be allowed to return. Together with that, the university will continue to put in place all measures to ensure adherence to national guidelines. This will apply to all campus facilities, including residences.
 
As soon as the students who may return under Level 3 of the lockdown have been identified, communication with them will take place. I need to reiterate the Minister’s message that no student will be forced to return to campus as long as they are fearful of their wellness and safety. Students who are ill, must not return to campuses. 
 
Whilst we are planning for the return of students, our multi-modal offerings are continuing and we encourage students to fully engage with their studies and contact their lecturers whenever the need arises. 
 
The reintegration plan for students will also have a direct impact on the reintegration plan for staff. In this regard, there will also be specific communication to affected staff members.
 
I know that many of our staff and students are anxious to return to the campuses, but we must ensure that we take all steps to protect you. We must avoid an outbreak of the virus on any of our campuses.
 
Please continue to focus on your learning and stay safe. 
 
Thank you
Prof. Dan Kgwadi 
Vice-chancellor and Principal 

11 May 2020: Cleaning of NWU residences

Dear residence student
 
We have embarked upon a process to prepare all relevant facilities including our university residences for a possible return of students to campuses whenever the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation declares a phased-approach for universities. The preparation of residences across our campuses as part of curbing the spread of the coronavirus will involve a thorough cleaning in accordance with applicable health and safety regulations. This intensive cleaning entails: 
 
a) Access to all residences and rooms;
b) Identification of items with potential health risks;
c) Removal of items that have clearly gone bad;
d) Thorough cleaning and sanitation of the rooms; and 
e) Fumigation.  
 
We are aware of students’ concerns at other institutions; please be assured that the cleaning at our university will be done responsibly and under very strict control measures to, among others, safeguard students’ personal belongings. 
Keep safe and continue to assist us in working towards the successful completion of the academic year. 
 
Regards
 
Prof Dan Kgwadi
Vice-Chancellor and Principal 

1 May 2020: The immediate way forward for our students

Dear student

During the past two weeks, we have ventured into unchartered waters and have finished our orientation period for online learning. The online teaching and learning programme which will involve assessments commences on 4 May 2020. We are all aware that it is not the same comprehensive experience as it would have been in a face-to-face situation in lecture rooms. Management shares your concerns and that of our lecturers about the big adjustment brought about by online learning. 

It is a very steep learning curve for everyone, and we are constantly dealing with the adjustments which we all have to make. We remain conscious of the issue of inequality among our students, and are working tirelessly towards putting in place measures to ensure that all our students have opportunity to complete the 2020 academic year successfully.

The measures put in place by the North-West University since the beginning of March 2020 to address the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and to protect our staff and students as well as our envisaged way of taking teaching and learning forward, are completely in line with the announcements made by the Minister of Higher Education and Training on 30 April 2020. 

Data provision
We will be issuing contact students in need of data (as was indicated by your responses to the multiple SMS and online surveys that we have sent out through the course of April) by the 5th of May 2020 as a once-off and initial enabler to support students to get online. The various network service providers have approved the zero-rating of the NWU’s main webpage [www.nwu.ac.za] and eFundi as our main teaching-learning sub-domain(s) in different ways. 
We are working towards a standardised understanding and application and will update you accordingly. For now, no data charges apply for Cell C, Vodacom and Telkom, while MTN is only offering 500MB for its subscribers to use these sites. Please take note that no other sites are supported by this arrangement. It is once again reiterated that the data supplied should be used for teaching-learning purposes only, and should be used sparingly.

Delivery of laptops
To date, we have managed to source 3500 laptops. The delivery of these to identified students will commence during the first week of May 2020. Identified students can expect personal communication soon.
These laptops have been prioritised for students who have access to electricity and connectivity and are in desperate need of a laptop to enable them to complete their qualification by the end of this academic year. Please be assured that the NWU is exploring different options to obtain more devices. One of these is the Covid-19 Response Fund which has been launched recently. The main objective of this fund is to secure funds from a variety stakeholders to further support our students with laptops/devices, as we know that other students not necessarily in their final year of study, also have a need of devices to study online.

Connectivity 
Students who cannot study online due to poor connectivity or lack of access to electricity will be receiving printed study materials with study guidance so as to enable them to participate in teaching and learning while not being able to return to campus. For these students, we are planning a return to campuses that will coincide with a Winter School during which first semester work and assessments can be completed to ensure that every student has an opportunity to complete the semester. 

Collection of study material and other personal items
We are aware that some students have left their academic material and other much needed items such as clothing at the residences or their place of residence at the various campuses. We continue to receive inquiries from students who want to return to their residences to collect their study materials. Even though we have much empathy in this regard, I must reiterate that this is impossible at the moment due to the travel limitations and requirement for permits to do so, and no students will be allowed onto any of the campuses for this purpose. The university can only issue permits for essential services as outlined in the Covid-19 regulations.

Conditions for returning to campuses
As was announced by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology on 30 April 2020, the whole of the higher education sector will not resume with campus-based academic activity during the Level Four (4) lockdown period. The only exception will be the controlled return of final year clinical training (medical) students, under strict conditions, to also directly assist with the health management campaign of the Department of Health. Communication to these students will be on an individual basis after further consultation with the relevant stakeholders. The students should not return to campuses unless they have been instructed to do so. 

During this period the university will continue the delivery of online learning (with distance learning as an alternative), and will constantly work towards refining these modes. The extent of further measures to be announced remains unknown and even when we get to a point where more relaxations in terms of the national lockdown are announced, it is still envisaged that a phased approach will be adopted to allow students back onto the campuses. This would mean that not all students will be allowed back at the same time due to the fact that national guidelines regarding gatherings, social distancing, and screening may still have to be adhered to.

Your responsibility
Measures have been put in place by the university to ensure that students are afforded the opportunity to continue with their academic programme and to allow us to work towards the successful completion of the academic year. However, we cannot do this alone and you as a student also has the responsibility to actively engage with lecturers and constantly monitor eFundi to ensure that you do not fall behind.

Please also continue to check the university website http://www.nwu.ac.za/coronavirus regularly for information updates. It remains the primary official communication channel with all our students, irrespective of all the other communication channels used to reinforce messaging or for the sharing of information.

Please ensure that your contact details are up to date by accessing the Contact Details App on the DIY Services portal (http://diyservices.nwu.ac.za/apps) ASAP. 

Academic calendar
You will be updated accordingly as soon as the new academic calendar has been approved by Senate. 
As was previously announced, there will be no conventional invigilated examinations during the first semester. All schools in all faculties have re-planned module assessments to ensure that a module mark can be obtained by the submission of continuous assessment opportunities. The necessary arrangements will be communicated to every student by the school concerned. Once again, I want to assure students who cannot yet access the online programme that submission dates for assessments will be flexible to offer you a chance to build up a module mark, even if this is only possible during the planned Winter or Summer Schools. 

Enquiries

General enquiries: email to nwu-covid19@nwu.ac.za
Online learning assistance: services.nwu.ac.za/KeepOnTL
Other enquiries (data, connectivity, devices, and finances):


I want to assure you that we will endeavour to support you as best it is humanly possible. Please stay healthy and spend your time wisely towards the achievement of your academic goals.

Best wishes
Prof Dan Kgwadi
Vice-Chancellor and Principal   

30 April 2020: Zero-rating and data

Dear student

I hope this note finds you all well. The various network service providers have approved the zero-rating of the NWU’s main webpage [www.nwu.ac.za] and eFundi as our main teaching-learning sub-domain(s) in different ways. We are working towards a standardised understanding and application and will update you accordingly. For now, no data charges apply for Cell C, Vodacom and Telkom, while MTN is only offering 500MB for its subscribers to use these sites. Please take note that no other sites are supported by this arrangement.

Zero-rating means that all content and resources on eFundi can be browsed and downloaded for free. The data option on the device being used must be turned ON, but you will not need data to participate in teaching, learning and assessment on eFundi. You can use your cell phone as a hotspot and use your laptop to navigate to the website(s).

We will be issuing contact students in need of data (as was indicated by your responses to the multiple SMS and online surveys that we have sent out through the course of April) by the 5th of May 2020 as a once-off and initial enabler to support students to get online.  If you have not received an SMS from the NWU to participate in the surveys, your contact details are outdated and you need to update them ASAP by accessing the Contact Details App on the DIY Services portal (http://diyservices.nwu.ac.za/apps). We urgently need your correct contact details to ensure that you are assisted to continue your studies.

Please take note that the data supplied should be used for teaching-learning purposes only and is active for thirty days from inception on 5 May. This is meant in addition to the zero-rating to assist you in getting online. The data should thus last you the whole of May. Once you have received an SMS from the NWU, your data will be added automatically by your provider.

For those who have indicated that they are not able to get online because of connectivity challenges, alternative measures are being finalised in order to assist you. Communication in this regard will follow. 

We wish all our students well in terms of their participation in the teaching-learning programme and will endeavour to support you as best we can.

Enquiries can be directed to any of the following:

Regards

Prof Robert Balfour
DVC: Teaching and Learning 

20 April 2020: Update on progress made towards the full implementation of online learning

20 April 2020

The University Management Committee (UMC) held an extraordinary meeting today, 20 April, to assess progress made towards full implementation of the online teaching and learning mode. The executive deans and the Executive Committee of our Student Representative Council (SRC) attended the meeting. These key stakeholders were invited to the meeting to ensure that the decisions that we take are inclusive of the views of our academic staff and students. All parties at the meeting acknowledged the huge challenges that we are faced with in dealing with the effects of COVID-19 and agreed that a multi-pronged approach is necessary for us to address the teaching and learning challenges.

I am pleased to update you as follows;  

1.Data

The University has concluded agreements with the four telecommunication companies (Telkom, Cell C, MTN and Vodacom) for zero-rating of our relevant subsites. This means that our staff and students will be able to access study material and information on eFundi and other subsites on our website at no charge. We are aware of the technical problems that some of our staff and students have encountered with some of the telecommunication companies. We have received confirmation from our technical team and the companies involved that the problems have been resolved.    

We are aware that there are NSFAS- qualifying students who do not receive funding at this stage. These students will be prioritised for a minimum of 10 Gb offer that will be made available to students at a cost to the university.  We have also entered into agreements with telecommunication companies for reverse-billing in order to facilitate free access to the most relevant and necessary study material. Further announcements will be made in this regard.

2.Devices

We are in the process of acquiring a significant number of laptops/devices that will be issued to qualifying students. The focus will be on students without any device.  The criteria and application process for the laptops/devices will be communicated soon.  These devices will be issued on a loan or rental basis to students. The rental charge will be reversed once the device is returned in a good and working condition, otherwise it will be charged to the student’s account. 

3.Connectivity

The students who have indicated that they have a network connectivity problem will not benefit from laptops/devices. However, we need these students to continue with their studies and not be left behind. Therefore, arrangements will be made to deliver printed material(s) to these students on a regular basis depending on their study needs.

The planned winter-school and summer-school will present an additional study opportunity for all students to participate and improve their studies.  

The extended orientation period (17 – 30 April), as communicated to all staff and students, entails that teaching would continue. However, no assessments or assignments will take place during this period. We will continue to monitor the situation and respond accordingly to ensure that your interests are prioritised.

We remain focused and resolute to ensure that we complete the academic year without disadvantaging any of our staff and students. We are traversing a road never travelled; thus I urge all staff and students to appreciate the nature of the problem, its unpredictability and the need to work together as a united NWU community to find solutions that fit our unique environment.

Thank you
Prof. Dan Kgwadi
Vice-chancellor and Principal
 

19 April 2020: Vice-chancellor's message on graduation ceremonies

19 April 2020 

As you read my message, listen to our graduation song

As was previously communicated, all physical graduation ceremonies (undergraduate and postgraduate) that were scheduled to take place until the end of May 2020 have been cancelled. This includes the handing-over ceremonies that would have taken place at other venues other than our three campuses. 

The relevant degrees and diplomas will be conferred and awarded in absentia, and the certificates of each ceremony would be sent by courier as close as possible to the date of the awarding/conferral as captured on the official student record and as contained in the relevant degree programme. 

If at all possible and doable, graduates who have missed out on their ceremonies would be invited during the second semester to walk over the stage and to have their official photographs taken. 

In addition to the use of courier services to distribute certificates to graduates, we are investigating the possibility of making certificates available in a digitized format, and to refer graduates to the relevant portal where these would be stored. 

Due to the lockdown, we are unable to print and courier certificates. We shall attend to the production and distribution of certificates after the lockdown. 

Once the certificates are produced, all measures would be put in place to courier these individually to each graduand after the completion of the necessary financial clearance which is currently underway. 

Other means and ways are currently under investigation to inform graduands as soon as possible of the status of their qualifications. In this regard, a letter will be generated from the system and signed accordingly and confirming the graduation status of each student. A video message conferring and awarding your degrees and certificates will be distributed via our official communication channels soon.  

I know how important this matter is to all our graduands. You have worked hard to obtain your qualification, and we are just as proud of you as your family and friends.

We are doing everything possible to ensure that you receive the necessary documentation of your qualifications. You will be kept abreast of any developments on this matter. I look forward to your continued association with the NWU as proud alumni and ambassadors. All the best in your career and please keep safe.

Kind regards
Prof Dan Kgwadi
Vice-chancellor and Principal

19 April 2020: Extension of the orientation period for online learning

19 April 2020

Dear staff and students 

The uncertainty and challenges related to COVID-19 continue to affect all of us in ways unimaginable. Since the implementation of the orientation programme for online learning on 17 April, the University management has been receiving large numbers of complaints and questions regarding connectivity and devices, as well as the potential exclusive nature of the online learning. The feedback that we have received since the 17th suggests that the alternative plans that are put in place to address this problem are not sufficient enough to avoid the inequalities and lived experiences of a significant number of our students. 

Our plans to secure laptops/devices for students have taken longer to realise than anticipated for two reasons. First, because our university, like all other higher education institutions, is continuously engaging with telecommunication companies to get the best and cost-effective solutions for our students. And secondly, because we need to ascertain who among our students need either data, or devices, or both, or who need their study materials packaged either electronically, or in paper format to reach remote areas where both connectivity and electricity are not available. In this regard, we are busy reconciling the results of the surveys that were conducted recently and envisage to commence with implementation as soon as the process has been concluded.   
As indicated previously, we have successfully negotiated zero-rating for a significant number of our subsites and portals such as eFundi with telecommunications companies. We have noted feedback from students that they were still unable to access some of the sites and we are following up on these with the telecommunications companies concerned. We anticipate the problems to be resolved as quickly as possible and continuously attend to any problems that may arise during the implementation of online teaching and learning mode of delivery 

The University management has resolved to prolong the orientation for online learning until 30 April and use the time to address our students’ specific needs – lack of access to devices, connectivity and electricity.  During this orientation period (17 – 30 April) there will be no tests or assessments of whatever kind. We remain fully committed to continue with the implementation of alternative teaching and learning modes – online, distance learning, and winter and summer school(s). Our commitment is anchored by the values of inclusiveness and ethic of care. We are aware that some students are ready to commence with the academic programme online ASAP. We appreciate the concerns shared with us, and understand the frustrations experienced. 

Please continue with the planning processes to ensure that we are ready for implementation when all matters have been resolved. 


Thank you

Prof. Dan Kgwadi
NWU Vice-chancellor and Principal


16 April 2020: Important information: Continuation of the academic programme

16 April 2020

Dear Student

Thank you again for your patience and responses to the survey regarding online learning. I fully acknowledge the problems and challenges faced by some of our students in terms of devices and access to network services and data. However, we are facing an unprecedented situation that needs us to embrace new ways of teaching-learning while making alternative arrangements that would ensure that all our students complete the academic year. To this end, the NWU will commence with introduction to online learning (with distance learning as an alternative) on 17 April 2020 via the eFundi platform. The initial few days, from the 17th onwards (Friday, Monday and Tuesday) will be spent assisting students with an orientation to online learning which is envisaged to take place for the remainder of the semester, or until further notice. For students who cannot go online from 17 April, the university is finalising alternative plans for you to have an opportunity to complete the semester.

Getting started with online learning

The period 17 to 21 April will be used as an orientation period to ensure that those students who can continue online are prepared and equipped to do so and to allow us to fully engage with the academic programme from 22 April. You will shortly start receiving communication from faculties, schools and module lecturers regarding the way forward.

In putting in place multiple modalities for teaching and learning, we want to demonstrate our commitment to ensure that all our students have an opportunity to complete the semester. We remain committed to providing access to students to the teaching-learning programme in the online and/or the distance modality. This entails ensuring, as far as reasonable, that teaching and learning resources (reading materials, PowerPoint slides with additional explanations of concepts, short video clips, learning guidelines, assessments, and other related resources) are available online and accessible to students (also in printed format if necessary as soon as the lock-down is relaxed and we can make use of printing and courier services, and services available at our learning support centres nationally).

It is of utmost importance to ensure that whatever measures are put in place they should not be to the detriment of any of our students. We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that no students are left behind. For students without access to online teaching and learning, and in the event that the lock-down is prolonged and the university cannot make use of the distance mode to service these students, the faculties are already preparing for a “catch-up” programme (in the form of Winter and Summer Schools as planned for on the reconfigured calendar for the year- more details on this to follow). These will be implemented as soon as contact students can return to campuses and distance students again have access to learning support centres. The Winter school is envisaged during the June-July period and if need be, a Summer school during December. Full details will be supplied at a later stage.

Connectivity, Data and Devices

Many students are struggling with data or connectivity. This matter is constantly being addressed not only by the university, but also by the higher education sector in conjunction with the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology. We have already been successful with negotiations regarding zero-rating of certain university’s subsites and portals with some telecommunication companies. We will continue negotiations with the four major suppliers (MTN, Vodacom, Telkom and Cell C) to ensure full zero-rating for all relevant NWU subsites. eFundi is already one of the sites which will be free from 17 April. Apart from what was already put in place, the option of reverse billing will also be implemented. This will imply that students would still be able to access the university’s website and subsites needed to continue with online learning, but that the university will stand in for the bill in this regard. The primary objective is to zero rate as many URL’s as possible. In addition to this, the university will reverse bill, as far as possible, most popular URLs used for teaching-learning and research. Please keep in mind that apart from the measures explained, there still might be a possibility that certain websites/subsites would not be included. However, as a result of the provisions already made, this will most probably be to a lesser extent. I want to assure you that alternatives will continuously be explored to empower all our students and staff.

It is also acknowledged that some of our students will be struggling due to the lack of devices. We are looking at possibilities to ensure that the academic offerings are provided in a low technology format; thus ensuring easier access. We are also exploring further options to address this matter and will communicate with students who have indicated this as a problem. For students living in remote areas and who cannot go online, the university will endeavour to make available alternative teaching-learning and assessment opportunities to assist with the completion of the semester. If you live in a remote area with poor or little connectivity, please contact your module lecturer and alert them of this, providing your name and student number. This will help us to plan to reach out to you once the lockdown has been lifted, in the form of distance education provision.

June Examinations

There will be no conventional invigilated examination during the first semester. All schools in all faculties have re-planned module assessments to ensure that a module mark can be obtained by the submission of continuous assessment opportunities. The necessary arrangements will be communicated to every student by the school concerned. Once again, I want to assure students who cannot yet access the online programme that submission dates for assessments will be flexible to offer you a chance to build up a participation and ultimately a module mark, even if this is only possible during the planned Winter or Summer Schools.

Need your learning materials and books?

We are aware that some students have left their academic material at the residences or their place of residence at the various campuses. We continue to receive inquiries from students who want to return to their residences to collect their study materials. I reiterate that this is impossible at the moment due to the travel limitations and requirement for permits to do so, and no students will be allowed onto any of the campuses for this purpose. Students should please get in contact with their lecturers in charge of the modules concerned. The lecturer(s) will consider whether the textbook can be placed online in e-format, OR if this is not possible, then the lecturer will alert Library Information Services so that they can make arrangements for the e-text to be made available as soon as possible.

A process will also unfold to allow optimal utilisation of cell phones by students for purposes of accessing learning opportunities. Faculty call centres are established to enable the correct channeling of student requests to the relevant academic staff members. This will involve eFundi support as well as academic support. Please check out the webpages and watch your phones for contact details.

Practical work

Many courses involve practical work, and in this regard, a decision has been taken that practical work will mostly be addressed during the second semester. The first semester will continue with a focus on theoretical work. The details regarding specific programmes and modules will be communicated to you by the faculty.

Return to campuses

As soon as further measures regarding the lockdown are announced by the President and the Minister, the reintegration of students onto the campuses will be addressed. The extent of the measures remains unknown and it is envisaged that a phased approach will be adopted in this regard, meaning that most probably not all students will be allowed back at the same time. National guidelines regarding gatherings, social distancing, screening, etc may still have to be adhered to.

Contributions to various causes including the Solidarity Fund

There are many worthy initiatives that are aimed at assisting the government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and to assist communities to deal with the effects of the national lockdown. The university is deploying its intellectual capabilities and skills to support communities and people offering essential services. For example, our Faculty of Engineering is collaborating with other stakeholders to develop and distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to health practitioners; and working towards repurposing some equipment for use as an emergency ventilator The Faculty is also collaborating with other stakeholders to manufacture ventilators that are crucial for health facilities in the treatment of people suffering from COVID-19.

I know that some members of the NWU community are continuously making financial and other contributions to various initiatives to assist households and communities. Let us continue making these contributions and where possible also contribute voluntarily to the various funds established to address the current problem. The university will soon embark on a campaign that seeks to support students with laptops/devices.

Naturally, the current situation has a significant impact on the academic programme. We are all confronted with many challenges and we have to devise means to deal with these. I request the patience, understanding, and cooperation of all students and staff to ensure that together we can work towards the successful completion of the academic year.

I want to assure you again that all possible measures will be put in place to minimise the possible adverse effects of students who might be left behind because of their real experience of the digital divide.
Let us work together to save this academic year and ensure that our collective expertise continues to make a meaningful contribution to our country.

Thank you

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Vice-chancellor and Principal

 

16 April 2020: Online teaching and learning: Message from the Vice-Chancellor.

16 April 2020

Dear Students

I have received a memorandum from concerned students about the exclusive nature of the online teaching and learning that is scheduled to start very soon. The impression has been created that management is ignorant and insensitive to the challenges posed by this emergency mode of delivery. This is untrue and unfortunate. The communication from our webpages stating that the online learning resumes today (16 April) have caused some confusion and it is regrettable. It is only the orientation for online learning that is planned to start this week as soon as the negotiations with telecommunication companies have been concluded.  From 17-21 April there is an opportunity for orientation for students and staff to familiarise themselves with the teaching-learning programme. Formal commencement is on 22 April.

While the insults from some of you on social media are totally unacceptable, the panic and anxiety caused through such impressions are understandable. To avoid any further contradictions regarding our response to the recovery plan due to the Corona-19 disaster, all communication will in future only be through the vice-chancellor’s office.  Such communication will address the interventions in place for students with different challenges, e.g. network connectivity, electronic devices, and data. The details regarding teaching-learning and assessments will be communicated at faculty level.

While our commitment to the successful completion of the academic year is based on social justice and the ethic of care, it is obvious and logical that no single solution will be applicable in all contexts.

You'll be kept up-to-date about the actual resumption of online learning in due course.

Thank you

Prof Dan Kgwadi 
Vice-chancellor and Principal

 

11 April 2020: Lockdown extension: Message from the Vice-Chancellor

11 April 2020

Dear NWU student

I trust you are well and continuing to keep safe. You are probably aware that the 21 days national lockdown has been extended until the end of April 2020 in order to continue with the implementation of measures aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus. I cordially request you to support and comply with the government’s directives during the lockdown. I know that this is a difficult and frustrating time for you as you would want to continue with your studies and complete the academic year. We are all affected negatively by this global pandemic; thus we must do everything possible to save our precious lives. 

There has been an increased number of inquiries from students who want to return to their residences to collect their study materials. This is obviously a challenge due to the travel limitations and requirements for permits to do so. 
Following the extension of the lockdown, the university management will assess the implications thereof and advise you of the necessary interventions and way forward early next week.

Please let’s play our part and ensure a safe return whenever the lockdown is lifted. 

Regards 

Prof Dan Kgwadi 
Vice-Chancellor and Principal

 

6 April 2020: Beware of disinformation

6 April 2020

We trust that you are well and keeping safe. Please note that the University Management is working with all relevant stakeholders to put in place the necessary interventions and systems working towards the successful continuation of the 2020 academic year. We have noted some communiques that purport to be updating our stakeholders about the university’s position regarding the lockdown and the continuation of the academic year. Please ignore and desist from distributing any communication that is not published on the official platforms of the North-West University. 

All official statements/communiques of the university are published on the university’s official communication platforms such as eFundi, website and the various digital media accounts. Please follow us on the following platforms for regular updates:


Official website:

http://www.nwu.ac.za/coronavirus


Find us on Facebook:


Follow us on Twitter:

North-West University: @theNWU


eFundi:

http://efundi.nwu.ac.za/portal/


Enquiries:

nwu-covid19@nwu.ac.za

Issued by Corporate Relations and Marketing 


30 March 2020: Challenges facing students due to online-based learning

Starting the online programme

The start date for the commencement of the online programme is 15 April 2020 so that we are aligned to the potential re-opening of the schools. If the lockdown persists, and the relevant Ministers extend the recess again, such that learners, students and staff cannot return or commence with formal teaching and learning and in the online mode, we may have to delay this start. 

Access to online learning

A great deal of thinking about student backgrounds (remote areas included) has been undertaken by the leadership of faculties. A survey is being conducted among students where they were asked if they have access to electricity, devices and Wi-Fi. 

No assumptions were made that all students come from the same demographic backgrounds. Instead, the assumption is that students' needs will differ and access to the teaching-learning programme should, therefore, be supported as best as possible, keeping in mind that solutions are so dependent on services being or becoming available if the lockdown eases up, or if it is maintained.

Devices
Students were asked for information about what, if any, devices they possess. It may well be that those in need can be supplied with such (depending on courier and delivery services being available, funding becoming available).

Remote and rural areas without internet connection or electricity
Students were asked about this via the survey to determine the need for making available the teaching-learning programme in print mode (as for our distance education students). Again, there are potential constraints that apply; the availability of courier and postal services, and further announcements by the relevant Ministers (DBE/ DHET) on the recess period and the re-opening of institutions.

Scanners, printers and submission of assignments
We will be able to continue with online learning, provided students have devices and adequate data. The higher education sector is currently in negotiation for a 0 data cost for access to certain university webpages, such as eFundi. If we can secure this, our students will not need data as such, but only a device to access the relevant sites. For distance students, and in some cases for our contact students in remote areas and without access to devices/network coverage and electricity, it may be necessary to write assignments out. In these instances, postal services/ courier services will be an obvious solution.

Support for students concerning access to the online or distance mode 

  • Regarding distance mode, we already have thousands of students who study in programmes offered jointly at undergraduate level in both the contact and the distance mode (the BEd is the example that comes to mind). Thus the university already has that capacity, experience and expertise to support students.
  • Where the online mode is concerned, the majority of our modules (about 95%) already have an online Efundi presence. This is basic at present: it allows academics to upload resources and teaching guidelines. It allows for students to download these resources and also to upload their assignments when due. We are not anticipating developing high-end virtual learning as not all students will be able to access this consistently (differences in network coverage around SA and beyond, and affordability are some of the issues). The priority needs to be straightforward low-tech teaching and learning, accessibility and 0 data costs (hopefully) for students and staff.
  • Disadvantage/ advantage: Our university serves a wide variety of students, from disadvantaged and advantaged backgrounds, urban and rural, all genders, mature people and young people. Our commitment is to all, on the basis that those who need different types of support to access the programme are provided. Thus the survey (probably the first of a few of such surveys) helps us to plan for someone from Taung as they do for someone from Three Rivers, but the effectiveness of this planning depends on students communicating their needs on the one hand, and us being able to support these as well, on the other hand.

 

Classes commencing only on return to residences

The first problem with this is that we do not know when a return to campus will be allowed to happen, or indeed if it will be possible. In countries where infection rates continue to rise, the lockdown has been effective for 7 weeks. And further that even in conditions of lockdown, there needs to be made available the possibility of students keeping themselves occupied with formal work, and universities working together to rescue the academic year. The Minister has advised as such also. The risks of not doing this are multiple and unaffordable for institutions: students cannot afford a lost year; staff have to continue to work, services have to continue to be paid for, and people even in isolation need structure and routine that stimulate their development and growth. In light of that, and if we can do and afford it, it would, of course, be better to provide devices to students who need it, and better to continue teaching in the online mode or in the distance mode, than to lose the year.

Assignment due dates and examinations

The university has already communicated on revising of due dates for students and indeed for staff, arising from the extended recess period and the Corona crisis lockdown. We anticipate that instead of an exam, that open book online or open-book assignments/ projects will be set for students that will not require special venues. Obviously this is far from ideal, especially in those modules where lab-work, work-integrated learning, etc. apply. For those modules, the faculties are also considering different arrangements. Exams will inevitably have to shift and the loss of planned recess period in July and December is a real possibility. As yet though we plan from week to week because the virus changes from day to day and similarly its impact and reach. 

Living conditions not conducive to work and study

The crisis has intervened dramatically in domestic and working environments. The NWU has a lot of empathy for the crowded conditions many students face in their home environments. Our academics are also affected by this, whilst simultaneously developing a better on-line or paper-based distance offering for students. All these factors weigh heavily, but the fact is we are not living in a normal situation at any level.  We must all do our best to make possible the need for education provision, for our collective welfare as a country. 

Looking after your mental health during die COVID-19 time

We are very much aware that even if the university does everything within its power to service our students via the online mode or via the distance mode, which we may still find that a number of students could not keep up with or participate in all activities of the academic requirements of their programmes. In such cases, the faculties will offer "boot-camps/ crash-courses" once these students can return to our campuses in an effort for them to catch up and to support them to also complete the academic semester, and year, if needs be.
 

Prof Robert Balfour
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning

24 March 2020: NWU arrangements – nationwide lockdown

24 March 2020

Dear colleague

We find ourselves in an unprecedented and unimaginable situation. A situation in which the growing concern around the coronavirus outbreak can be felt by all of us. Please be assured that your concerns and anxieties about the pandemic, as well as your health and safety at work are our top priority.

The President's announcement of a nation-wide lockdown leaves us no option but to also put the university into lockdown at midnight on 26 March. During an urgent University Management Committee meeting this afternoon, 24 March, the implications of this announcement were carefully considered. Our concern is to ensure that within the constraints caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the measures to contain it, we are able to complete the academic year successfully.

We have already closed many of our residences and the few students (mainly international students) who are unable to return home, will be accommodated in designated residences on our campuses.

Many of our staff are already working from home, and we encourage employees to use this time productively and continue their work from home while complying with the applicable directives of the nation-wide lockdown.

Leave and working from home

During the lockdown period, staff will not be required to apply for any leave. It is therefore not necessary to complete the work from home documents. For the removal of any computer equipment (to allow you to work from home), the Authorisation for use of assets off-campus form must be completed and handed in.

In order to support and enable staff to work from home, managers will engage with staff in their portfolios to determine their needs and to ensure that everyone has the necessary tools to work from home.

In the case of IT, Protection Services and other services where some work can only be performed on site, permission will be granted for staff to work on campus as and when necessary under strict protocols. Universities South Africa (USAf) is facilitating a method to provide staff working in essential services with the necessary documents authorising them travel and access to campus.

Access to campuses

Strict access control will be enforced during the lockdown period. Only the following gates will remain open:

  • Mahikeng Campus: Main gate
  • Potchefstroom Campus: Main gate, Esselen Street entrance, West Campus entrance and entrance to Faculty of Engineering
  • Vanderbijlpark Campus: Main gate
Online learning

During the lockdown the NWU will continue to prepare to offer its academic programme via online mode of delivery. The situation will constantly be monitored and the university community will be advised in the event of any changes. Even though we are not venturing into new territory, delivering our teaching and learning programmes online will surely bring about more challenges and will undoubtedly put staff and students under pressure. We need to work as a team and proactively share identified challenges to ensure successful delivery of our programmes.

We urge you to adhere to the President's announcement to protect yourselves and to assist in curbing the spread of Covid-19. While this measure will have a considerable impact on people's livelihoods and on our economy, the human cost of not adhering to this action would be much greater.

The NWU Response Team will continue to monitor the situation and will constantly update you on any possible changes.

It is critical that we use the formal communication channels created by the university to verify information and not spread rumours or unconfirmed information.

Please also make use of the email address created for all Covid-19 enquiries: nwu-covid19@nwu.ac.za.

All the latest information is also constantly made available on this page.

Thank you for the hard work done during this period – with your sustained support we would be able to continue to take the NWU forward.

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

Kind regards

 

Prof Dan Kgwadi
NWU Vice-chancellor and Principal


23 March 2020: Frequently asked questions by students

Click here to view answers to frequently asked questions by students


20 March 2020: NWU: Managing the spread of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

20 March 2020

Since the President’s declaration of a national disaster on Sunday, 15 March, the number of infections has increased drastically and some of these are local infections. It is crucial that all stakeholders must put in place the necessary measures to prevent the spread of the virus. The University Management Committee convened an urgent meeting on Friday, 20 March 2020, to review and consider its response to the developing COVID-19 pandemic and made decisions in relation to students and staff. 

 

Residences

  • In the interest of the health and safety of staff, students and other stakeholders of the NWU, the decision has been taken to close the residences on all campuses with effect from 20 March 2020 until further notice.
  • Students will have until 24 March 2020 to vacate the residences.
  • Students who are unable to leave the residences because they have a documented reason to remain, would be permitted subsequent to an approval process as administrated by residence officers and house parents.
  • International students who are unable to return to their countries due to the closure of borders may apply for permission to remain through the Global Engagement office (International office).
  • COVID-19 Special Residence Application form and guidelines

 

Facilities

In order to promote the health and safety of students and staff within the NWU’s public facilities:

  • Most of the facilities on campuses will be closed until further notice. In particular, the IT laboratories, the libraries, and 24 hour facilities.
  • For the few students who may remain on campus, essential emergency services will be available. The counselling service of Thuso (counselling departments) will be available telephonically or by email to assist students during the period of the recess.

 

Teaching-Learning and Research for all students

  • All students are on extended recess until 14 April 2020. The university plans to continue with online learning from 15 April.
  • Students will continue with the online learning until contact classes resume.
  • Postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows who have ongoing laboratory experiments that cannot be discontinued may apply for permission to remain in residence and/or on campus with a motivation from the supervisor/promoter to be submitted to the Executive Dean or Deputy Dean: Research.
  • Arrangements regarding teaching-learning and research will be communicated online as and when plans are approved.
  • The DVC: Teaching-Learning and Executive Deans are developing the capacity for online programme delivery.

 

NSFAS Allowances

The full payment of the April NSFAS allowance will be brought forward to be paid out electronically as soon as possible.

 

Graduations

  • In the distance learning environment, the scheduled handover ceremonies will be postponed until further notice. However, the certificates will be couriered soon to all qualifying diplomates and graduands.
  • Graduands due to graduate during April/May will have their degrees conferred in absentia and will receive their degrees by courier subject to the university’s financial rules.
  • Candidates due to be awarded diplomas during April/May will have their diplomas awarded in absentia and will receive their certificates by courier subject to the university’s financial rules.


During this difficult period, staff and students are requested to practice the necessary social distancing and hygiene protocol to reduce the risk of infection, wherever they find themselves.


19 March 2020: NWU recess from 17 March to 14 April 2020

After the President declared a state of disaster on Sunday 15 March 2020, the NWU took a decision to bring the recess forward to start on 17 March 2020. We expected to continue with delivering our academic programmes on 30 March 2020 in the online mode.
Subsequently, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology directed that the recess for universities and other tertiary institutions would commence on 18 March 2020 until 14 April 2020. 
From 15 April onwards, the NWU intends to offer its academic programme via online learning. The situation will constantly be monitored and the university community will be advised in the event of any changes.

University Management

17 March 2020: Urgent arrangements (staff and students): Covid-19

Following the declaration of a national disaster relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and the statement by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, the North-West University management met to review the plans and processes that have been put in place to address the risks posed by the pandemic to both internal and external stakeholders, as well as to implement the necessary measures that ensures the continuation of university’s essential academic functions. The following measures were approved;

  • The recess will be from 17 to 29 March 2020.
  • All graduation ceremonies have been postponed until further notice.
  • Teaching-learning will be conducted through an online mode via eFundi from 30 March until 30 April 2020. Work-Integrated Learning, Work-Place Learning, and practicals will be rescheduled for later in the semester/year.
  • Professional bodies will be engaged regarding assessments for work-integrated learning and work-place learning.
  • Students who elect to leave the NWU during the recess may continue their studies through the online mode after the recess.
  • Students who are unable to leave the residences will be accommodated in designated residences and must observe social distancing and hygiene practices as advised.
  • Postgraduate students who need to engage in practical or laboratory-based work will be granted access to facilities through the directors or deans. This will be applicable to groups of 15 students or less.
  • Facilities such as libraries and other services deemed critical will continue to be available.
  • The situation will be constantly monitored up to 30 April and the university community advised accordingly.


Students are encouraged to contact their faculties for more information regarding the academic programme and activities.

The University Management also approved directives in regard to formal and informal sports events, gatherings and meetings, official and private travel by staff and students and receiving international visitors. Please read the directives here below.

Kind regards

University Management Committee

 

NWU response team

The NWU response team has your best interest at heart. This team was established on 2 March and consists of all the relevant role players. The purpose of this team is to:

  • Promote the health and safety of staff, students and other stakeholders; 
  • Identify critical business processes that might be impacted and possibly disrupted; 
  • Recognise, manage and minimise threats related to the virus; 
  • Ensure that emergency services respond promptly to events related to the virus; 
  • Ensure the NWU is able to continue with essential functions during periods of disruption due to the virus; 
  • To restore normality to NWU business processes through business recovery and communication plans.

Contact us via nwu-covid19@nwu.ac.za