Go back

Omicron isolation will hurt South African universities


Science minister says travel bans will cause “major disruption”

South Africa’s higher education and science minister has joined critics of the growing group of rich countries banning travel to and from South Africa due to the discovery of the Omicron variant of SARS-Cov-2.

Blade Nzimande said the bans will cause “major disruption” to the Department of Higher Education and Training and higher education institutions.

“The challenge of Covid-19 and the prowess of our South African scientists is being abused by some developed countries who want to isolate our country and our region for the good work that has been done by our scientists,” Nzimande told Parliament’s portfolio committee on higher education, science and technology on 1 December.

He said the border closures and travel bans will have “huge implications” for the takeup of internships, learnerships, traineeships, and, specifically, tourism training and related degrees.

Nzimande said the government will continue to follow an inclusive and science-backed approach to the pandemic in the way it manages its university sector. He said that plans for the 2022 academic year will take their cue from president Cyril Ramaphosa and leading clinical experts.

“We are planning and preparing our sector for 2022 based on the holistic South African response to the pandemic,” he said.