Upper Nile University administration has announced the reopening of the institution for the final year students after six months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The university was to reopen on April 6 but as part of the government measures to help curb the Covid-19 spread in the country, all learning institutions were closed.
Speaking to Radio Tamazuj Saturday, Prof. Marial Awou, the university’s Vice-Chancellor, said the registration process is ongoing and that lectures will commence in early November.
“Registration process is now ongoing for all final classes from all faculties. We have ten faculties. And the number of the final year students is between 500 to 700. The lectures will start on 2nd November,” he explained.
The university official, however, pointed out that plans are underway to ‘gradually reopen’ for all classes.
“Because of COVID-19, we had to start with the few classes we can afford. That is why we say we have to reopen gradually. Gradually means every time we get something; we will call the next group. And probably the next group is the first year,” he said.
He added, “Covid-19 needs a lot of requirements for prevention. And those requirements need lots of money. So, through the ministry of higher education, we have already made submissions to the government for all the five public universities. But unfortunately, it was not tabled for the approval by the cabinet on Friday.”
Eliza Akur, one of the university students, urged the government to release funds for the start of the 2020-2021 academic year, saying delays in the resumption will affect her plans.
For his part, Atem Barach Atem, the university’s students’ union, welcomed the reopening, but expressed concerns over ‘the University’s gradual resumption plan’.
“As the student body, we welcomed the reopening, but we rejected some conditions in the process of reopening. If they call the finalists now, and later the other group, it will create differences and gaps in classes. Again, tuition fees have been increased, but they do not want to disclose to us. To add, finalists are required to come with sanitizers, facemasks, and an extra 10, 000 SSP for Covid-19. What for?” he asked.
The student representative appealed to the university administration to reopen the institution for all the students.
“If it were about budget, how were they going to reopen in April before the issue of Covid-19 came. If it is because of the coronavirus, we suggest that lectures should be divided with the science-based faculties in the morning, and the rest in the evening hours,” Barach said.
Upper Nile University is one of the country’s five public universities. The other higher learning institutions include Juba University, Bahr el Ghazal University, Rumbek University, and Dr. John Garang Memorial University of Science and Technology.