21 November 2016
Dear colleagues and students
This is an update on recent events at the University of Cape Town.
Student Representative Council elections
The Higher Education Act requires all public higher education institutions to have a student representative council (SRC) elected in the manner stipulated in the institutional statute and institutional rules. The UCT SRC Constitution, which forms part of the institutional rules, states that the term of office of the SRC is from 1 November to 31 October of the following year.
The Election Commission has decided to cancel the current SRC election as the campus climate has not been conducive to running a free and fair election. We will run a new election as soon as possible in 2017.
This situation is unprecedented at UCT. There were very few options available to the relevant stakeholders, who also kept in mind democratic principles, the stability of institutional governance and the student voice in university committees under these very challenging circumstances.
Upon the recommendation of the current SRC, and with the support of Student Parliament, Council decided on 2 November 2016 to relax the term of office requirement of the SRC Constitution and approved the extension of the 2016 SRC as a 'transitional' SRC from 1 November 2016 until an early election in 2017, but not beyond 1 June 2017.
Council also agreed that the 'transitional' SRC would be required to operate under the current SRC constitution and to fill vacancies in the manner described therein.
SRC members have already begun working on arrangements to assist students facing financial and academic exclusion and have endeavoured to work closely with other elected UCT student governance structures.
UCT Student Careline
Exam season can be very stressful. If you are a student and are struggling to cope, or know someone else who is struggling, please remember that help is available on the SADAG UCT Student Careline: 0800 24 25 26 free from a Telkom line or SMS 31393 for a call-me-back. This line offers 24/7 telephonic counselling, advice, referral facilities and general support to students facing any mental health challenges or contemplating suicide. The line is also available to offer support and advice to anyone who is concerned about a student who might be in distress.
Update on exams
Exams commenced on Monday, 7 November and have proceeded without any disruptions or incidents. Exams will end on Friday, 25 November. Deferred exams will take place from 23 January to 10 February 2017. The majority of students are writing the November exams. As at 6 November, 1 226 students had deferred their full block of exams to January, while close to 3 000 students had deferred only individual exams. In addition, 1 300 students in Health Sciences programmes for years one, two and three will take their exams in January 2017.
Selection committee for DVC vacancy
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Sandra Klopper's term of office ends on 31 December 2016. (Please see the VC Desk of 25 October in which the Vice-Chancellor updated staff on changes to the UCT executive and thanked Professor Klopper for her loyal service to the institution.) The process of constituting the selection committee for this vacancy is under way. The Institutional Forum and Senate are providing input on the key criteria for the post, which will be tabled at the Council meeting on 10 December.
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