Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any questions relating to the academic & research activities during COVID-19 situation at Mandela University that are not covered below, you can submit them using this form. We'll ask the relevant department or persons involved to provide answers which we will add to our FAQs


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This FAQ only deals with university-related issues. If you have general questions about Coronavirus, or what you can and can't do during lockdown, please check under Resources.

 

How do I change all my modules to pathway 2?
You will need to have a discussion with your lecturers to determine how you can do this.
Will the same work be covered in both pathways? Will the work in one pathway be easier?

The work covered and the assessments conducted will be the same in the two pathways. It is just the way that learning and teaching will be delivered in the two pathways that differs. Pathway 1 will largely be done digitally until students get onto campus to do lab and experiential learning work and some augmenting tutorials and flipped classes for revision. Pathway 2 learners will learn, where possible, with materials that they have at home that link to the learning outcomes of the module. When they get onto campus, they will continue to cover the same work as Pathway 1 learners, with an intensive delivery approach that blends contact opportunities with digital learning on the same module sites that Pathway 1 students accessed.

Will the assessment tasks be the same for the two pathways?

Assessment tasks will be the same for each pathway; however, as normally is the case for sick tests and re-exams, there will be different equivalent versions of tests and assignments. Many modules will no longer have exams, but you will rather be assessed using a range of assessment activities (e.g., short tests, essays, assignments, portfolios, etc.). Your lecturer will communicate the changes to the assessment tasks in your modules to you.

Will I be able to take my exam online?

Many modules with exams have been changed to continuous assessment modules (where you will be assessed using a range of assessment activities across the term). It is only some modules in the final year of a programme and in professional programmes where the exams will remain. Exams will only be taken online if students do all their tests online and have been properly prepared to take a high-stakes assessment online.

Will the quality and standard be the same for the two blended pathways?

The standard quality assurance mechanisms will be in place for both pathways to ensure that students are provided with learning experiences that enable them to achieve the learning outcomes of a module. Moderation practices will be strengthened to ensure that module assessments are rigorous and fair.

Must I choose which pathway I want to follow and sign up somewhere?

You do not have to sign up for one of the two pathways. Instead, we want to encourage all students that have a computer, laptop, tablet and/or Smartphone plus connectivity to the Internet to start on Pathway 1 so that you pave the way for Pathway 2 students to receive more intensive LT when they get back to campus. From 21 April, your lecturers will contact you. lecturers will assist you to assess whether you will start in Pathway 1 or 2. Your lecturers will also be able to connect you with your classmates that are on the same blended pathway as you. If your lecturer does not contact you, you can always contact your lecturer to tell him/her that you need assistance regarding the right pathway for you.

If you cannot receive or respond to communication from your lecturer, do not stress. Your name will remain on the class list and the lecturer will know that those who could not follow Pathway 1 are Pathway 2 learners. They will then earmark you for intensive LT when you are back on campus.
Pathway 1 learners
Activity:
Pathway 2 learners
Activity:
Preparatory and phasing in period (21 April – 3 May) Preparatory and phasing in period (21 April -3 May)
30 Digi LT days (6 weeks) Learning @ home if possible until students can return to campus
Some focused deconcentrated flipped class sessions & augmenting tuts
Lab work, studio sessions, pracs, experiential learning
End of module assessments1 (includes exams where needed)
Possible School-based learning for education students and work-integrated learning for others

Preparation and settling in
For 30 days over 6 weeks:
Online Learning
Some focused deconcentrated Contact and Flipped class sessions and augmenting tuts.
Lab work, studio sessions, pracs, experiential learning
Module assessments

Re-exams Exams, where needed
Recess – but with possible SBL for education students and WIL for others Recess – but with possible SBL for education students and WIL for others
Re-exams2 Exams, where needed
Recess – but with possible SBL for education students and WIL for others Recess – but with possible SBL for education students and WIL for others
Re-exams
Semester 2 starts Semester 2 starts

 

Can I shift from Pathway 1 to Pathway 2?

It will take a time to adapt to online learning. We hope that Pathway 1 learners do the compulsory preparatory module that will give you tips for how to change your mind-set and learn effectively online. Tutors, SI leaders, academic advisors, Student Success Coaches and counsellors will provide you with an online learning and psycho-social support network to help you to adapt and succeed with Digi LT. However, it is possible for Pathway 1 learners to shift to Pathway 2. If, despite your best efforts, you find that you cannot adapt, have a chat to your lecturer or someone in the support network about shifting between the pathways.


If I am a pathway 2 student ā€“ will I be at a disadvantage?

Both pathways will be challenging. Pathway 1 learners will have to adjust to a very different way of learning. Pathway 2 learners will possibly have a period of time where they make slow progress with studies but then pick up the pace of their learning when they get back to campus. But, learners on both pathways will cover the same work and do the same assessments. So there will be no academic advantage in terms of being on Pathway 1 or 2.  

Do the pathways start and end at different times? How does this impact on the academic calendar?

As can be seen in the table below, Pathway 1 learners start engaging actively in learning for about 6 weeks, while Pathway 2 learners engage in learning that is possible from home. The resumption of face-to-face teaching for Pathway 2 learners will be linked to when lockdown ends and when the national date for students to return to campus is announced. While Pathway 2 learners will end the first semester a little later than Pathway 1 learners, all learners will start the second semester at the same time. This will mean that students will be on a single blended pathway in the second semester, as is normally the case.

Pathway 1 learners
Activity:
Pathway 2 learners
Activity:
Preparatory and phasing in period (21 April – 3 May) Preparatory and phasing in period (21 April -3 May)
30 Digi LT days (6 weeks) Learning @ home if possible until students can return to campus
Deconcentrated flipped class sessions & augmenting tuts
Lab work, studio sessions, pracs, experiential learning
End of module assessments1 (includes exams where needed)
Possible School-based learning for education students and work-integrated learning for others
Preparation and settling in
For 30 days over 6 weeks:
Deconcentrated Contact and Flipped class sessions and augmenting tuts.
Lab work, studio sessions, pracs, experiential learning
Module assessments
Re-exams Exams, where needed
Recess – but with possible SBL for education students and WIL for others Recess – but with possible SBL for education students and WIL for others
Re-exams2 Exams, where needed
Recess – but with possible SBL for education students and WIL for others Recess – but with possible SBL for education students and WIL for others
Re-exams
Semester 2 starts Semester 2 starts

1 It is possible to synchronise the end of module assessments (EMAs) for the different pathway 1 learners and even exams.

2 Re-exams and special exams for Pathway 1 learners will be synchronised with Exams for Pathway 2 learners.

Will the academic calendar change?

The published 2020 Academic Calendar will be revised. We have developed three or four scenarios to adapt the Academic Calendar, which have been approved by the Executive Committee of Senate. Some of the details of the Academic Calendar cannot be finalised until we know the date that students can start returning to campus. As soon as we have a national directive around when students can return to campus, a revised Academic Calendar will be published.

Will I be able to complete the 2020 academic year?

We are committed to providing every student with the opportunity to complete the 2020 academic year.

Both pathways require some academic activities to be completed on campus. The earlier students can return to campus, the greater the possibility that the first and second semesters will be completed in 2020. By moving the second semester re-exams and special exams to January 2021, it is possible to complete the second semester in 2020. However, the end date of the second semester examination period is likely to be in December and not November.

If students can only return to campus later in the year, it might still be possible to finish semester 1 and complete the academic work for semester 2 in 2020. But, the second semester exams might have to be in January 2021.

Whatever happens, we will complete the 2020 academic year and will adjust the start date of the 2021 academic year if necessary.

As I final year student, will I be able to finish this year?

We have made a commitment that all students will be given every opportunity to complete the 2020 academic year. As we phase learning and teaching in, we will prioritise final year students as far as it is possible.

I was supposed to graduate this year - will I be able to?
We are committed to completing the 2020 academic year. As long as you pass your modules and meet the requirements for your qualification to be awarded, you will be able to graduate. Most graduation ceremonies are likely to take place in April 2021.
What will happen to Pathway 2 learners when Pathway 1 learners start Digi LT?

We are acutely aware that Pathway 2 learners may have a slower start to actively resuming their learning, as they do not have a device or connectivity. Where possible, lecturers are currently assessing if these students have taken their textbooks and notes home, and what the best ways are to have contact with them and what their support needs are. It might be possible for some lecturers to provide some learning activities via SMS or WhatsApp, or to couriering learning materials if possible. In addition, we are engaging radio stations to get slots to present lecturers for some of the modules with large enrolments or that are high-risk. Pathway 2 learners will not be expected to hand in any assignments or write tests during the time that they are learning remotely. Support mechanisms in terms of tele-counselling and learning support will be available to Pathway 2 learners while they work from home. We would want Pathway 2 learners to be among the first students that are allowed to return to campus. A blended learning approach will be used to take them through their modules and they will be given sufficient time to prepare for and conclude assessment activities.

To provide avenues for Pathway 2 learners to connect with the university, we suggest that you use the following options:

  • Contact your lecturer via email or telephonically
  • Our contact centre can be contacted via SMS on 0800 504 911 during office hours. Operators will either answer your questions or put you in touch with someone who can.
  • Students are encouraged to access a number of coping mechanisms on the Student Portal that will assist students maintain their mental health and wellbeing through resources available or contact a counsellor.
  • Contact a success coach via email: LearningDevCoaching@mandela.ac.za
  • Look for information on Mandela University’s coronavirus webpage
After lockdown will Pathway 2 learners be allowed to do online lectures like the Pathway 1 learners?
When students are allowed to return to campus, Pathway 2 learners will follow a blended learning approach. This means that you will do the same online work like Pathway 1 learners, there might be live streaming of aspects of the content to your computer, and the extent of face-to-face contact sessions will be much less than usual and will be more discussion-based to clarify key concepts. Even lab and studio sessions will have reduced contact time so that we adhere to the Covid-19 social and physical distancing restrictions.
How will I be prepared to learn in a different way? Will there be support available?

The pathways include preparation for learning in different ways. For example, for Pathway 1 learners there is a compulsory preparatory module that we developed to assist students to learn online. Students will be invited to engage with the module in the week before learning and teaching resumes. We have also developed a remote learning guide for Pathway 2 learners. They will get access to this as we phase in the start of learning and teaching activities. When Pathway 2 learners return to campus and have to do online learning as part of the blended approach, they will also do the preparatory online module. For both pathways, the preparation for learning on alternative pathways has a strong focus on how the student must adjust their thinking and attitudes and develop as self-directed learners.

Students on both Pathways need to develop a schedule/timetable of the learning activities they need to engage in each week. The rule of thumb would be to spend 5 hours per week per module. This would leave 5 to 10 additional hours per 40-hour week to work on long assignments, revision for a test, connecting with fellow students, etc.

In addition, the necessary academic and psychosocial support to will be available to enable students to learn successfully and adapt to changed circumstances. This will include tutoring, Supplemental Instruction, augmenting tutorials, writing assistance, success coaching, academic advising, and counselling on various platforms.

In addition, lecturers will be in regular contact with students. Where students are not working consistently or at all, they will be sent personal ‘nudge’ messages to encourage them to focus on their learning and to find out what hindrances they are experiencing that they could be assisted to overcome. Lecturers will also have systems in place to be able to monitor student progress and the extent to which they are completing the required work and assessment activities.

What about my practicals, lab sessions, studio sessions and other experiential learning activities?

Experiential learning activities such as lab work, studio sessions, and practicals might be able to be achieve to an extent via simulations. However, the majority of these activities will have to be undertaken face-to-face when students return to campus.

In faculties with lab, studio and experiential learning facilities, planning is taking place to determine how many students can safely be in a lab or studio at a point in time. The university will also ensure that hand sanitizers, soap, and water are available, that venues are sanitized and cleansed regularly and that the university complies with all national regulations related to keeping ennvironments hygienic and social and physical distancing protocols.

What about Work-integrated Learning (WIL), School-based learning (SBL) and Clinical training?

Work-integrated (WIL) and school-based (SBL) learning, clinical training and other experiential learning requirements will be finalised at a faculty level and guided by the adjustments approved by professional bodies, where relevant. Lecturers will communicate directly with students about changes to the requirements and how these will be achieved.

What will happen to Postgrad students that are currently carrying out their research on university premises?. Will an exemption be made to allow the conduction of experiments in the labs when the uni opens?

We are currently working on a plan to phase postgraduates back into labs and increasing access to research equipment.  This is not finalised to date, and will be communicated.  Social distancing and strict hygiene protocols must be followed.

When will the Council Funding for Honours students be released?

An email has been sent to all eligible Honours students, not receiving other bursaries or scholarships, with a link to sign an online conditions of grant.  Once this has been accepted, Research Development will process payments at least once a week.  Students who have completed the process have already received funds.

Examination ā€“ Final Submission/Corrections for Graduation: Will the current deadline be moved?

Due to the Government’s National State of Disaster announcement and the subsequent COVID-19 lockdown, the date for submission of the final copy of your treatise/dissertation/thesis has been extended to Friday, 17 April 2020.

The final copy must be submitted to the Examinations Office no later than 17 April 2020, in order to ensure the finalization of processes to submit graduation data to the DHET by the end of April.

Deviations will be dealt with on an enquiry/individual basis in collaboration with Faculties.

Communication regarding the procedure to submit final copies, will follow.

Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact pgexams@mandela.ac.za.

On-campus Residences: Can postgraduate students remain in residence?

In order to pro-actively reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19, all residences were vacated subject to limited exceptions (with a process for considering those exceptions having been implemented by the Student Housing division).

What happens if I cannot submit my Conditions of Grant (CoG) and supporting documents due to lack of access to resources?

NRF has extended the deadline submission date to 29 May to allow for these delays to be catered for and give time for students to submit.

How can I access my Nelson Mandela University proof of registration and other documents that are needed by NRF?

For an official academic record and stamped proof of registration email student records:

studentrecords@mandela.ac.za

For a stamped proof of NSFAS support for your undergraduate degree email either Student Accounts or Financial Aid, email: Studentaccounts@mandela.ac.za or financialaid@mandela.ac.za

Postgraduate Funding: Will allocated funding be released?

The Office of Research Development is processing the release of funds as per usual.  This Office relies on its partners, Finance and Student Accounts to facilitate the actual payments and transfers.  The following have been processed for students who have completed all of the necessary submission of documents and conditions of grant (bursary/scholarship dependant).

  • PGRS funds for 1st semester pay-outs have been released and are with relevant support departments;
  • NRF funds have been released all awardees who have submitted their conditions of grant; instructions for funds to be released to student accounts are being done as funds are released;
  • IRBs will be processed as per standard operating procedures.  Staff will attend to them as per our regular once-a-week structure;
  • Refund Requests will be processed as per standard operating procedures; however, it is requested that ALL requests be made via EMAIL as opposed to being handed in at the Research Development office in person.  Staff will attend to all requests electronically.

Please note that while Student Accounts CANNOT issue Cheques over this period, they are exploring ways in which to facilitate payments by EFT.  Research Development will ensure that the processing on its end is completed, that will enable the other support departments to process requests as soon as they are able to do so. Student account enquiries may be emailed to studentaccounts@mandela.ac.za

How can I check if my banking details are linked to my student account?

You can email Student Accounts (studentaccounts@mandela.ac.za) and inquire whether your banking details have been linked on the system, please note that this only applies to those who have processed refunds before.  If you have never processed a refund you more than likely are not linked.

To link your banking details to your student account you will need to request a form from student accounts, fill in your details.  You will need to take the forms to the bank to get a bank stamp and then email the form back to Student Accounts.

How do I claim the credit balance on my student account?

Request refund form and fee statement from student accounts, complete relevant fields and ensure your banking details are linked to the University.

Send the completed form to relevant Office of Research Development staff member.

These forms must reach the Office of Research Development before Tuesday 10 am to be processed in the same week.

What happens to deadlines for submission of M and D proposals and the like?

It is understood that not all students have access to internet and computers at home. Plans are being made to alter submission timelines for Master’s and Doctoral proposal approvals for all first year enrolments.  Once the university understands the duration of the “self-isolation” and suspension for students on campus, and assesses the overall impact, also of the nationwide lockdown, it will be better placed to communicate more exact timeframes and contingencies. Likewise, for August and December thesis/dissertation submissions.  These are multi-department issues that will have to be looked at as a collective and communicated to all stakeholders.

What happens to registration deadlines for research M and Dā€™s wanting to register for 2020?

As is usually the case, Masters and Doctoral candidates can register at any time during the year, however the full year is not counted when registering after 30 April.  This principle remains in effect.

What happens to those intending to register for course work Masters and Honours?

Students who have been cleared to register but not yet been able to do so should please liaise with the Registrar's office.  Registration is required in order to access on-line learning platforms.

What are the deadlines for those wanting to submit for examination this year?

The notice from the Registrar’s office is as follows:

IMPORTANT DATES AND INFORMATION FOR GRADUATION IN DECEMBER 2020

Date Action
30 April 2020 Last day for submission of intention to submit documentation for examination by postgraduate students for awarding of master’s and doctoral degrees in December 2020
7 August 2020 Last day for submission of treatises/dissertations/theses for examination for the awarding of master’s and doctoral degrees in December 2020
13 November 2020 Last day for submission of final copies of treatises/dissertations/theses for graduation in December 2020

Contact exams office:  pgexams@mandela.ac.za

Research Ethics: Will these committees still meet?

Although REC H and REC A will not meet physically, these committees will conduct “virtual” meetings during campus suspension to limit interpersonal contact.  All deadlines for serving at the committees should be adhered to.  All submissions should continue to be made via email.

Research Workshops: What will happen to scheduled research workshops?

All planned workshops have been postponed, unless arrangements have been made.  New dates will be communicated with participants as soon as possible.  If the containment period stretches on much longer after the Easter Holidays, different methods of delivery of some workshops are being explored where possible.  Further updates will be provided once more information is available.

What will happen to the NRF and other external Funding Application deadlines?

Currently all deadlines remain as previously advertised for 2021 NRF funding and other opportunities.  Please see MEMO system for updates.  Support for Research Development will be via email to relevant staff as per MEMO.

What is happening with the University Statistical Consulting service?

All planned workshops have been postponed, however the on-line course is currently up and running, please see https://rcd.mandela.ac.za/Free-Statistical-Support-Service for more information.  Plans for a more interactive course are being made to replace the block courses if necessary. Electronic consultation arrangements can still be made as well, please see website or email USC@mandela.ac.za for more information.

How will international students receive support?
During the week of 20 April 2020, the International Office will conduct a survey with all international students asking them to provide the office with different types of information including their internet connectivity and access to devices. This survey will give us a sense of the number of students who are having trouble to continue their studies and the nature of their struggles. It will also enable us to have a sense of the whereabouts of those students that live in private accommodation around PE, produce a conclusive number of students that have returned to their home countries and the extent to which they are able to participate in any of the pathways. All students are encouraged to update their contact details through the NMU website.
Will international students be able to sit for exams at partner universities abroad?

Provision has been made for international degree seeking students as well as study abroad & exchange students to sit for the examinations at any of the University’s Partner Universities abroad or any other university abroad as determined by the relevant committee, at its discretion. Please note that this provision is only for students who will follow Learning Pathway 1 and might have to write paper-based examinations abroad. It is also on condition that the Partner Universities are open and are able to facilitate the examination.

Students who have been informed by their lecturers that they will need to take a paper-based examination abroad should contact the Mandela International Office at least five (5) working days before the commencement of the examination.

What services remain on offer?
  • Access to electronic books (multi-disciplinary).
  • Access to some electronic textbooks.
  • Access to electronic databases (multi-disciplinary).
  • Access to electronic databases (specialised).
  • Access to university research output (theses and dissertations).
  • Access to electronic journals.
  • Telephonic or virtual guidance may be provided by Faculty/Information Librarians to students and staff in respect of available online information resources with self-search on various platforms (e.g. Google Scholar).
  • Searching and downloading online information resources to forward to students and staff.
  • Limited telephonic or virtual assistance with the Citation tools (i.e. EndNote, Mendeley, etc.) when needed.
  • Small group online/virtual information training sessions when essential/ possible (pre-arrangements to be made with relevant Faculty/Information Librarians).
  • Limited possibility for availability of scanned chapters of specific books online for blended learning if arranged with relevant Faculty Librarian and other colleagues (i.e. Copyright office, or Bibliographic).
  • Each campus has a designated area / pigeon hole / book chute available for the return of materials/books.
  • Liaising and assisting students and staff with the return of library print materials/books (both Mandela and non-Mandela materials) to the campus if necessary.
  • Ad hoc services for students/staff on request where possible.