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Universities miss August deadline

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The spike in Covid-19 cases in July made it impossible for universities to complete the 2019/2020 academic year by yesterday’s deadline set by Government.

Universities closed in March as Government imposed Covid-19 prevention measures but reopened at the beginning of June in adherence to Covid-19 prevention measures.

The Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development adopted blended learning (a combination of campus and online) lectures when the universities reopened.

The Ministry gave the higher education institutions a 31st August deadline to complete the 2019/2020 academic year but an increase in Covid-19 cases in July saw Government suspending face to face lectures and examinations that were ongoing.

In closing the universities, Government said it was prioritising the health and safety of students.

The situation was also worsened after a lecturer at Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) tested positive for Covid-19, forcing the institution’s closure.

Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said:

“They will overshoot it (deadline) because you know there was an intense spike of (Covid-19) in July and after that incident in Chinhoyi (University of Technology) and we took precaution to close. But lectures were still going on online but because of that spike lectures will overshoot a bit but I’m sure that the academic year is going to be completed.”

He said universities have started preparing for the final year examinations as some of them have already completed their studies.

“Most of the students are done anyway, we are left with some first-year students here and there and some Masters students here and there. But we are going to finish, some universities are already preparing for the next wave of examinations. But medical students never got away because they are on practice at hospitals. We believe everything will be okay given the circumstances but we are not going to meet the 31st August which we had prepared,” he said.

The Minister said there was nothing amiss with missing the set deadline as they had made a provision for it. “You remember my statement, I said whenever we have new incidents we can change. We made that decision but the decision was no longer consistent with the reality on the ground, we were ready to change and we changed,” said the Minister.

Meanwhile, the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) has stated that its 2019/2020 academic year will end on October 9.

The university will resume phased writing of final year examinations starting from next Monday ending on Friday October 9.

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