Immediate and long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on South African higher education

  • Olutayo Oyeyemi Oyerinde University of the Witwatersrand
  • Ada Mukanya Dienga Engineering Council of South Africa
Keywords: higher education, COVID-19, teaching and learning, assessment, learning management system, university education


The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the higher education sector significantly. It forced the stakeholders to do new things and brought many innovations to educational activities. As the pandemic hit the shores of many countries, among other things and sectors, education activities were disrupted. Many, not well-advanced universities in terms of technology and learning management systems (LMS) embarked on a forced recess, using the period to put online education platforms in place. The advanced universities immediately migrated contact teaching and learning to online platforms. This paper aimed to investigate the immediate effects that the pandemic has on South Africa’s higher education systems in terms of how both lecturers and students were made to use new technologies/tools, how the tools enhanced teaching and learning, how assessments transformed due to the pandemic, and if some of the interventions employed during the pandemic will find usefulness when the pandemic has finally retreated. In this study, universities that are offering engineering degrees in South Africa are used as a case study, and data were obtained from both engineering students and engineering lecturers at these universities through qualitative (survey with open-ended questions) together with quantitative (surveys with closed-ended questions) research methods. The study shows that higher education activities cannot go back to the way they were before the pandemic. The study brings to light that some old techniques will be combined with some innovations employed during the pandemic to ensure effectiveness and greater throughputs in the higher education systems going forward.

Received: 2 December 2021
Accepted: 1 August 2023


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Author Biographies

Olutayo Oyeyemi Oyerinde, University of the Witwatersrand

Associate Professor in the School of Electrical and Information Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He is a National Research Foundation (NRF) C2-rated scientist, a Registered Professional Engineer (Pr.Eng.) with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA), a Registered Engineer (R.Eng) with COREN, a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineer (SMIEEE), and a Corporate Member of NSE amongst others. He is an Associate Editor for the IEEE Access journal and an editorial board member of the International Journal of Sensors, Wireless Communications & Control. His current research interests include wireless communications with specific interests in 5G and beyond 5G technologies, signal processing techniques for wireless communication systems, and 4IR technologies.

Ada Mukanya Dienga, Engineering Council of South Africa

Research Manager at the Engineering Council of South Africa. He holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Johannesburg and a Master of Art from the North West University of Potchefstroom. Ada is interested in Engineering Skills research and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.


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How to Cite
Oyerinde, Olutayo Oyeyemi, and Ada Mukanya Dienga. 2023. “Immediate and Long-Term Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on South African Higher Education”. Tuning Journal for Higher Education 11 (1), 295-326.