Digital LT orientation

During the week of 20 April 2020, lecturers will share the revised module guide and orientate students to what is required.

The Mandela International Office will act as a support base for students who are able to take part in orientation modules. The Office will also liaise with faculties and communicate with students to ensure a smooth transition into the orientation.

Short surveys are being run by a number of departments to determine the feasibility of connectivity for students in their programmes.

Study abroad and exchange students

We expect that all study abroad and exchange students to be able to complete the semester using Pathway 1a or 1c options.

However, there is a possibility that some of our international degree students who are currently back in their home countries on the African continent do not have devices and/or reliable internet for the completion of the semester using Pathway 1a or 1c.

We will have to explore the options that can enable these students to complete the semester without returning to South Africa in the next two to three months.

The table below explains the applicability of different pathways to international students, as well as the possible challenges and solutions related to the assessments in different pathways:

Pathways Applicability to international students Assessments
Pathway 1a Applicable to international students based in South Africa; this is also applicable to students who have returned back home. However, these students cannot be expected to do any face-to-face learning and teaching Digital all the way, including continuous assessments (no exams)
Pathway 1b Applicable to international students based in South Africa who have access to internet and devices, and may be able to go back to classes and labs if the lockdown ends and classes can resume If exams are necessary, partner universities can assist study abroad and exchange students (partner universities can assist with invigilation of exams)
Pathway 1c Applicable to international students based in South Africa and the students who have returned back home If exams are necessary, partner universities can assist international degree students (partner universities can assist with invigilation of exams)


1.2.1. The Survey

During the week of 20 April 2020, the Mandela 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.

1.2.2. Systems in place for exams at partner universities

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.

International Partnerships

For Nelson Mandela University, international partnerships carry an added significant role, that of unlocking important international funding partnerships and cooperation. Resource mobilization is key to accelerating efforts aimed at the development of staff, improving the international mobility of both staff and students, broadening international networks that are central to the University’s expansion of its African footprint and delivering on its social justice responsibilities as a University in service of society.

Covid-19 Response

The only noticeable impact that COVID 19 has had in the management of international partnerships and networks is the slowing of the pace and halting of processes that were under way. This is because several scheduled inbound and outbound meetings and visits abroad had to be either cancelled or postponed. As the rest of higher education sector across the globe struggled to come to terms with the impact of COVID 19, focus tended to shift to the wellbeing of human beings as a primary concern. In the first few weeks, many universities focused on:

  • the impact of COVID19 on the staff and students at home, including foreign students being hosted in their institutions.
  • the impact on staff and students abroad and measures of repatriation
  • working out institutional positions, responses, setting up task teams and figuring ways of curbing the spread of the virus
  • ensuring timely and constant flows of communication to international partners and providing them with updates and the specific information related to their students.

The Mandela International Office was not exempt to this and has also been proactively responding to electronic enquiries from partners about issues related to the COVID-19 outbreak, requested information/advice from relevant university colleagues dealing with the outbreak in order to best serve partners and study abroad students, attended electronic committee meetings as and when requested and maintained a database of which partners have responded and enquiries /concerns have been raised.

In an effort to ensure that international partnership management processes continue during the lockdown period, the Mandela International Office has been communicating with various partnership stakeholders, including Mandela University faculty and international partners, in ensuring that the next steps in developing, sustaining and/or expanding these partnerships are taken. This has been done through stakeholder liaison, translating of agreements, updating of reports and the development of implementation plans for each specific partnership.

The Mandela International Office is also championing the identification, initiation and activation of various international funding applications aimed at supporting and expanding the universities international partnerships portfolio, with a particular focus on utilising successful bids to contribute to the institutional Africa Footprint strategy.