COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

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.


Identification Process of Returning Students
Before returning, you must have been identified as a student or requested as an essential, critical or key staff member to return to campus, before you can return at Lockdown Level 3.
Identification Process of Returning Students

Universities need to put a process in place to identify which students should return. This process is well underway at Mandela University.

A task team convened by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Learning and Teaching, that includes the DVC Research, Innovation and Internationalisation, Executive and Deputy Deans, the Dean of Students, SRC representatives, and other key stakeholders is in the process of identifying up to 33% of mainly final year students, especially those that need to do lab and studio work, experiential learning and clinical training, those final years that are on Pathway 2, as well as some students with disabilities.

This team will assess which students should be earmarked to return at each lockdown level. A set of principles, criteria and data will be used to inform such decisions, along with the lockdown level specifications about the number of students permitted on campus at a point in time.

Can I obtain an academic record/certificate of conduct from the university during lockdown?
Yes, you can send an email to requesting the documents.
Is Mandela University a COVID19 quarantine centre?
At this stage, the University is not a quarentine centre.
Do our documents still need to be certified for 2021 applications?

Applicants who are applying for a qualification in 2021 are NOT required to certify copies of their supporting documents by a commissioner of oaths. The University’s Student Access & Enrolment Office will verify the documents you submitted against a database to ensure authenticity. The only exception would be applicants transferring from another institution who would need to ensure that their academic record(s) and certificate of conduct is stamped/verified by their previous institution. Documents not stamped in the latter case will not be considered and your application could therefore be delayed as a result.

How do I receive my degree if I was meant to be graduating this year?
Our Registrar's office has communicatedg with all graduates to inform them about the issueing of their degree/diploma certificates.
Am I at risk of being infected with COVID-19 at the University?

At this stage no confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported at the University.

How is Nelson Mandela University trying to prevent the spread of the disease among students and staff?

A task team has been setup to address the surveillance and monitoring, prevention and response plans to coronavirus (COVID-19). Information sharing is underway via MEMO and all official social media platforms. In addition, education regarding health hygiene such as the washing of hands, cleaning of surfaces, coughing and sneezing etiquette has been extensively shared. Specific training for relevant staff, such as those who work within Occupational Health and Wellness Centre, and Student Health Services, has been undertaken.

What measures will be implemented by the residences to prevent the disease from spreading?

In response to newly imposed Government regulations (on 17 March 2020), students were required to vacate their residences by 22 March 2020 and return to their homes for the lockdown period. They will be told when they can return to the residences.

Who do I contact on campus if I suspect I may be infected with COVID19?

You can call the University's COVID-19 HOTLINE on 0800 504 911 or the national COVID-19 HOTLINE on  0800 029 999.

How will we make sure our workplaces and study areas are clean and hygienic?

Surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) will be wiped with disinfectant regularly.

How will we facilitate thorough hand-washing/sanitising by staff, students and visitors?

By putting sanitising hand rub dispensers at strategic places and making sure these dispensers are regularly refilled, displaying posters promoting hand-washing and combining this with other communication measures and making sure that staff, students and visitors have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water.

How exactly does the virus spread?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), people can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.

WHO is assessing ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share updated findings. viruses  

Are there COVID-19 testing facilities in Gqeberha (formerly PE)?

Should you feel it necessary to be tested for infection, the following options are available:




You will have to be referred by your GP

Ampath Pickering Street Laboratory

13 Pickering Street, Newton Park, Gqeberha
041 396 9513
Mon-Fri 08:00-16:00
Drive through collection site


3 How Avenue, St George's Park, Gqeberha
041 393 7904 
Mon-Fri 08:00-17:00
Sat-Sun 08:00-13:00
Public holidays 08:00-13:00
Drive through collection site




Are there COVID-19 testing facilities in George?

Should you feel it necessary to be tested for infection, the following options are available:


Patients who match the case definition will be tested for the virus at all fixed clinics in George, as well as George Hospital


You will have to be referred by your GP


Prince Vincent Square, Gloucester Avenue, George
044 802 5100
Mon-Fri 07:30-17:00
Sat 08:00-12:00


George Mediclinic ER Unit
Mon-Fri 08h00-15h00
044 803 8200 

Should I stay at home when displaying flu-like symptoms?
Yes, it is advisable to stay at home. 
Should you avoid anti-inflamatories like Ibuprofen if you have COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) they do not recommend against the use of ibuprofen.

I have a serious health condition, is it safe for me to be at work?

We received a specific question around this issue: "I am diabetic (chronic). Is it safe for me to be at work everyday as I cannot afford to lose my leave days. I need my leave to add on my sick leave."

Human Resouces, in consultation with line managers, has come up with various solutions for staff to work off-campus during this time. Please consult with your line manager and explain your condition. 

How many items can I borrow?

Depending year of study, see on the library site and click on LIS guide page 26.

Will there be a fine if my books are late?
No, provided they were due back in the first term of 2020.
Is it possible to renew my books during lockdown?

YES, you can renew online or email

On the library site click on page 20 of the library guide OR follow the steps below:



The Classic Catalogue is accessible on this link

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.
Where can online access problems be reported?
Who can I contact to attend to urgent ordering of e-books?
Will Thuthuka applications all be extended?

The NRF’s Thuthuka call below for 2021 funding, refers.

We have been notified of the following change taken at a NRF Executive meeting on the 03 April 2020:

“Regarding the Thuthuka call for applications that is currently open (Research Grants: Thuthuka), please take note of the following change:

  • South African permanent residents (with a valid South African ID number) are eligible to apply for the Thuthuka PhD and Post-PhD tracks.

In previous calls, only South African citizens were eligible to apply to the above-mentioned tracks. This has now been expanded to include South African permanent residents with a valid South African ID number.

Since we have not been alerted to any extension granted by NRF, the internal deadline date of the 10 April to submit applications will remain the same.


Call for Research Proposals for funding in 2021

Internal deadline date: 08 APRIL 2020 10 April 2020

Internal contact persons: Mr Imtiaz Khan ( ) or Dr Denise Schael ( )

See forms and documents below.

The Thuthuka Funding Instrument is a key intervention of the National Research Foundation (NRF) aimed at supporting emerging researchers. Thuthuka research grants are awarded to academics that hold academic and/or joint academic and administrative professional appointments, at NRF recognised public universities, science councils and other public research institutions.  Applicants must be employed at these institutions on a full-time permanent or full-time contractual basis that extends for the full period of the Thuthuka grant (i.e. permanent or long-term contract of at least 3-5 years which will not expire before December 2023). Female applicants that are appointed on a fixed-term half-day appointment in order to accommodate family responsibilities, raising children of four (4) years of age and below, are also eligible to apply. For detailed information on eligibility and other criteria and on the application requirements and process, refer to the Thuthuka 2020 Application and Framework documents. Applicants are invited to apply for funding in one of the following three tracks:

  • PhD Track: for applicants wanting to obtain a Doctoral degree within the funding period;
  • Post-PhD Track: for applicants wanting to become established researchers, by strengthening their research capabilities; and
  • NRF Rating Track: for applicants wanting to apply for a NRF rating within the six-year funding period.

Application Details:

The Call for Proposals for funding of projects is currently open and all applications must be submitted online by the 10 April 2020 in order for the Dept of Research Development (RD) to give individual feedback to applicants timeously and to allow us to meet the NRF deadline for validation. Applications from individuals must be submitted on the NRF Online Application system at .

Kindly note that while the NRF system will not close, the research office deadline date to submit all validated applications to NRF is the 30 April. Prior to this date, RD screens all applications submitted online by the internal closing date (08 April), provides individual feedback to each applicant, and allows applicants to implement changes before validating applications in time for the NRF’s  deadline date. Any application submitted after the internal closing date will not be reviewed for 2021 funding and will only be considered for 2022 funding.


Refer to section 4.2. of the attached Thuthuka 2020 Framework document for eligibility and other criteria that would enable you to complete the online application process.

Important Notes:

  1. The attached institutional support form must be completed by the applicant and relevant Dean and must be attached to the online application in time for the 08 April internal submission date. Please note, the funding tracks i.e. PhD, post-PhD or Rating track do not appear on the online application template. NRF have therefore requested this information be included on the institutional support form. In addition to the institutional support form, applicants are required to submit a certified copy of their South African Identity Document (PhD and Post PhD Track) and South African Permanent Residents (NRF Rating Track), online for audit purposes. Applications that are submitted without this document will be automatically rejected.
  1. It is imperative that applicants read through the attached call documents thoroughly before commencing with the application online. Applicants are encouraged to consult the Thuthuka Guide when completing the budget section of the application and take note of all eligibility criteria and exclusions for each budget item. Budget items MUST be well motivated . It is important to note that minimum budget per year should not be below R25 000 (NRF contribution).
  1. Applicants must include a detailed and well-motivated budget for each of the three (3) years in the three (3) year grant application (excluding those applicants applying under the PhD track where a 1 year budget can be submitted on condition that the applicant is in the process of completing the doctoral study by December 2021). The budget for each of the three (3) years will be approved at the time of the grant award.
  1. For SET disciplines, Budgets should range per annum in the region of R25k-R120k [excluding student support] and for SSH disciplines in the region of R25k – R80k (NRF’s contribution).The institution will top up the equivalent approved amount [excluding student support] i.e. Nelson Mandela University contributes 50% of the research costs of the project.
  1. Research Materials and Supplies: This is a compulsory budget category of funding to be completed in the application form. However, should your research not require materials and supplies, please substantiate in the application.
  1. For those applying in the PhD track: It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the supervisor’s email address is correct and that the supervisor has responded by the latest 10 April as this category is assessed in the application. The applicant must view the application PDF to check if the supervisor has responded to the request for a supervisor report. A “yes” indicates a response and a “no” indicates no response from the supervisor.
  1. NB: Applicants are encouraged to consult the NRF’s Scorecard for the Assessment of Proposals in the framework document (pg. 31-33) when completing the online application and ensure that the proposal section of the application addresses the requirements that the NRF panel of reviewers look for in an application.
  1. PLEASE do not wait for the last week or two before the internal deadline date to start your Thuthuka application. In order to submit a good proposal for funding, you would need to have a well thought out research plan linked to budget items that are well motivated. We encourage applicants to start the application process as soon as possible - not only to avoid the pressure of completing the application by the deadline date, but also to have sufficient time in sending the proposal to a senior academic in the same discipline for proof reading and feedback.

Should you have any further enquiries, please do not hesitate to email  or

Thutuka Application Guide 2020

Thuthuka Framework 2021

Institutional SUpport Form 2020


Will the NRF freestanding, innovation & scare skills postdoc fellowships application dates be moved?

Call for Applications: NRF Freestanding, Innovation and Scarce Skills Postdoctoral Fellowships for 2021 funding

Internal Closing Date: moved to 15 April 2020

Internal contact persons: Dr Denise Schael ( ) or Mr Silakhe Budaza ( )

The call for Freestanding, Innovation and Scarce skills Postdoctoral funding for 2021 has opened with the NRF One Call – Postdoctoral Grant. -

The Funding Framework and Online Application Guide are attached for your reference. These documents can also be accessed via

Successful applicants must undertake full-time Postdoctoral research.  The Fellowships cannot be held concurrently with any salaried full-time employment.

General eligibility criteria for all Postdoctoral Fellowships:

  • Open to South African (SA) citizens, SA permanent residents and foreign citizens
  • Applicants must have obtained their Doctoral degree within five (5) years of submitting an application to the NRF;
  • Applicants who are currently completing their Doctoral dissertation for submission may apply however, they should complete their Doctoral degree by 31 December 2020, as awards that are not taken up by 30 June 2021 will be cancelled by the NRF;
  • Applicants who are applying for a second NRF Postdoctoral research placement to continue with research on the same project are not eligible;
  • Applicants who are applying for a second NRF Postdoctoral research placement will be eligible if they intend undertaking research on a new project; and
  • Full-time employees of Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s) or other research institutions are only eligible to apply if they intend to take unpaid leave for the duration of the postdoctoral fellowship.

Important Notes:

  • Applicants must update their CV on the NRF online system prior to commencing an application.
  • Applicants are encouraged to take note of the scorecard used by the NRF reviewers in assessing applications (see page 12 of the attached Framework document). Also, It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the referee emails are correct and that the referees have responded by the latest 01 April 2020 as this category is assessed in the application. The applicant must view the application PDF to check if a referee has responded to the request for a reference. A “yes” indicates a response and a “no” indicates no response from the referee.
  • Should the host for the postdoctoral research be the same person as the Doctoral supervisor, then the same person must be listed twice in the reference section and will be required to complete both referee reports (one in the capacity of the host and the other as the PhD supervisor)
  • Applicants should apply to undertake postdoctoral research (i) on a research project that is different from the Doctoral research; (ii) located in a different department from that where the Doctoral training was undertaken; or (iii) at a different institution to that where the previous study was undertaken, as fellowships will preferably be awarded to individuals that will be expanding their research training on a new project and/or institution
  • Special consideration will be given to applicants who are applying for a first NRF Postdoctoral research placement where the individual’s research training and outputs may be enhanced by continuing with Postdoctoral research at the same institution; department; or under the same mentor. In such instances the applicant must provide a strong motivation describing the benefits to the applicant and for advancing research and innovation. Failure to provide a motivation will result in a rejection without review;
  • Applicants must attach the following documents under the attachment section of the online application form:

1.    Certified copies of their Identity Document or passport

2.    Certificate of their Masters and Doctoral qualification to their application. For those who are still in the process of completing their doctoral degree, a signed letter of confirmation from their current PhD supervisor must be attached to the application, stating that the Doctoral qualification will be completed by December 2020/PhD thesis submitted in December 2020.

3.    If the institution, department and/or supervisor remain the same as your Doctoral or first postdoctoral placement, a motivation letter must be attached.

4.    Official acceptance letter from the host institution (signed, stamped and on an official letterhead). The letter should include details of the availability of specialised equipment, infrastructure and resources to enable the fellow to conduct their research.

5.    For applicants with a disability: a medical certificate in support of the disability must be uploaded.

6.    Proof of South African National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) or University financial aid scheme funding (if applicable).

Please note, should any of the required documents not be uploaded to the application, the application will be rejected without review.

  • Requested information that is not included in the appropriate section of the Online application form, but is submitted as an attachment instead, will render the application incomplete resulting in a rejection without review.
  • Below are links to examples of National Strategy Documents which can be useful in completing the section of the application form “Alignment to National Imperatives”:









Applicants are required to align the proposed project to more than one national strategy. Please be reminded to reference the relevant document.

  • The scientific and technical quality as well as the potential impact of the proposed research contributes to 70% in the assessment of the application by reviewers. Hence, the proposal section i.e. “details of research” must be comprehensively written. Please also note that the proposed work plan must be for a min 2 and max 3 years (i.e. 2021 – 2022/2023) and must should contain detailed research activities linked to specific time frames and objectives.
  • In the workplan: applicants should consider including student involvement by having student projects linked to specific objectives of the research project;  mention must also be made of available resources and infrastructure; include possible conference presentations (state name of conference, location, year and whether a poster or paper will be presented); include submission of articles (linked to an objective) and identify targeted (DHET accredited) journals
  • Kindly note that for this call, each institution will be required to submit a maximum of 30 applications to NRF as outlined in Page 5 of the Framework document.  
  • Carefully read through the framework and funding guide before commencing an application.

How to apply?

Applicants must apply on the NRF Online system at: (see section 4 of the application and funding guide)

No late or incomplete applications will be internally screened, validated and submitted to the NRF for review.

Will the NRF cut-off dates be moved?

The NRF has extended the cut off dates for the applications that are currently open (Refer to link below).  The submission of nominations for grantholder-linked bursaries and postdoctoral fellowships has also been extended until 30 April 2020. 

The internal closing dates for the different funding instruments will be announced in due course.  As a rule of thumb, please allow at least one week to enable the Research Office to perform the necessary validation.  Please note however that this may vary between funding instruments.

General Application Guide 2021 Ver 4 24 Mar 20


The university seeks to support staff and students to cope with the national lockdown and to move towards the continuation of postgraduate research supervision and research work that may be possible in these trying circumstances through digital platforms.  However, research activities that require campus access cannot continue during the lockdown period. This includes research in laboratories and environmental fieldwork.

These iterative guidelines attempt to address some of the common queries raised by academics and students in the context of COVID-19 and the national lockdown.

Information will be updated as circumstances change.

Queries should be addressed to supervisors / line managers and escalated where appropriate.
Postgraduate studies via Coursework: What happens to contact sessions?
With the advent of the suspension of academic activities, and the recently announced country-wide lockdown, it is clear that any postgraduate work involving taught modules, such as Honours and Masters via coursework, would fall under this suspension and be affected by the lockdown.  Contact times and modes of delivery for these modules will need to be communicated once faculties have worked out a plan with timelines.
Research and Research involving Postgraduates: Can any research activities continue?

Activities that require campus access are no longer able to continue during the lock-down period. This includes research in laboratories and environmental field work. In addition:

  • Those labs with animals housed in the holding facility must make arrangements for those animals to be cared for during this period. Experiments must be suspended for this period as soon as possible.
  • Research that requires interviews, focus groups, workshops and working with public participants should be suspended. If electronic means, such as Skype or Zoom are possible, these should be used.
  • Where questionnaires are possible and being used, delivery via email or on-line means should be used.
  • Clinical work that involves high risk participants and/or high numbers of people should be avoided.
  • Travel bans and restrictions put in place by the government must be adhered to. 
  • Visits to Supervisors/Promoters at other Universities must be postponed until travel restrictions are removed.
Other forms of research and supervision activities, (i.e. those that do not require face-to-face interaction, and non-coursework research) should ideally continue electronically and through virtual platforms.
When will the Council Funding for Honours students be released?

There are a few checks that are still underway but some students have started to receive funding. 

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-out have been released and are with relevant support departments;
  • NRF funds were released this week for all awardees who have submitted their conditions of grant; instructions for funds to be released to student accounts will be done 20 March;
  • 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
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 D’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.
Library Services: Are libraries still open?

All libraries are closed; however, the virtual library is open, and more resources will be made available on-line. See the Library website for more information.

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 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 for more information.