2021 changes to the academic calendar, tuition and assessment

Why did Unisa change the 2021 academic calendar?

  • Unisa received a request from the Minister of Higher Education and Training to extend the registration period to accommodate the delays in the completion of academic programmes at other tertiary institutions as well as the late publication of Grade 12 results.
  • In response, the Unisa Council resolved to extend the registration period for all students until 12 March 2021. Subsequent to this decision, the Minister requested a further extension until 31 March 2021. This was also to align with the release of NSFAS funds affecting a majority of students.
  • To protect the academic integrity of the institution and minimise the adverse effect of a short academic year on student success, the following significant changes to the 2021 academic calendar for semester modules have been implemented (year modules have not been affected).
  • The extended learning period is also intended to mitigate further Covid challenges that might arise to try to ensure that the academic year is aligned with the calendar year.


  • During 2021, Unisa will have only one registration period, namely 5 January to 31 March 2021.
  • Students must register for both semester 1 and semester 2 modules during this registration period.
    • Students can therefore register for a maximum of 10 semester modules, distributed over the two semester periods.
    • Students are limited to the registration of 5 modules per semester.
    • To facilitate the single registration, the prerequisites have been amended to co-requisites for most modules, with certain exceptions as determined by individual colleges.
  • Fees for semester 1 (and year modules) registration are payable on 31 March and 31 August.
  • Fees for semester 2 registration is payable on 31 May and 31 August.


  • Semester 1 will be extended to a 22 week learning period and assignment dates will be spread over the period 1 April to 31 August 2021.
  • Semester 2 will be extended in the same manner by allowing students to register early and start with the tuition/assessment in April already.
  • The two semesters will run concurrently and students can register for their full complement of modules and will have a longer period for learning and engagement.
  • The assignments and new due dates are published in TL001. The rest of the information in TL101 remain valid.
  • Each module will still be registered for either semester 1 or semester 2.
  • Although semester 2 students are taught in the same module site as semester 1 students, they remain registered for the semester 2 registration period and will submit their assignments and examinations against the semester 2 period.
  • Therefore, although the assignment questions and due dates will be the same for both semesters, the unique assignment numbers are different for the two semesters.

Module sites

  • In most semester modules, the semester 2 students have been moved to the semester 1 teaching site. The new module site has been renamed to "ALL".
  • Semester 2 students are taught in the same module site as semester 1 students, but they remain registered for the semester 2 registration period and will submit their assignments and examinations against the semester 2 period.


  • For 2021 Unisa will have only one main examination period for both semester 1 and semester 2 examinations.
  • The 2021 examination will be over a longer period than usual and will be scheduled from 20 September to 26 November 2021 since students have to prepare and write more examinations than usual.
  • All examinations will be online and the approved examination type per module will be applied.
  • A special supplementary examination will be conducted during June/July for qualifying students (supplementary, aegrotat, FI concessions) emanating from the January/February 2021 examination period.

Final-year students (Early Completion Programme)

  • For final-year students that would have been in a position to complete their qualifications at the end of semester 1, Unisa will implement a special Early Completion Programme (ECP).
  • Only students that need 5 semester modules or less, and have registered for all these modules in the semester 1 period, will be identified for the ECP. Students registered for any practical or year modules will be excluded.
  • Students will be identified and informed of their placement in the ECP during April.
  • Detailed communication will be sent to such identified students and will also have the opportunity to opt-out and revert back into the normal semester programme.
  • Completing ECP students will have to wait for the 2022 application period to enrol for further programmes.

Publish date: 2021/03/29