Important: Student access survey & conditions for receiving a loan laptop

01 April 2020

Dear undergraduate and postgraduate students

We hope you are well under the prevailing circumstances and are taking care of yourselves.

As the university leadership prepares to continue academic work in the context of COVID-19, it is vital that we understand your circumstances, and that we explain clearly how we as the leadership are able to help.

We are therefore writing with an important request, and to provide guidance on the approach that the University of Cape Town (UCT) will use to allocate laptop computers.

We are asking ALL STUDENTS to complete the Student Access Survey as soon as possible, even if you have recently completed a similar survey from UCT. The survey asks questions about the conditions where you are now living and how those conditions will affect your ability to study. These include your access to Wi-Fi and the Internet; access to a quiet place for dedicated study or research; the hours when you expect to be able to study or do research, among others.

It is very important that you provide us with the information requested in the survey. The sooner the university receives your reply, the sooner we can process the students who need help.

Conditions for receiving a laptop computer from UCT

As you will understand, due to both cost and availability UCT cannot distribute computers to all the students who do not have devices (including those who had them but lost them through theft or an accident). For this reason, it was necessary to develop criteria and special conditions for allocating the limited number of computers that are available. The overarching criteria should be financial need.

The laptops to be distributed will be allocated only to students in these categories:

  • undergraduate South African students who are on financial aid or are eligible for financial aid and are residing in South Africa;
  • postgraduate South African students who are on financial aid or are eligible for financial aid and are residing in South Africa;
  • GAP funded students, either undergraduate or postgraduate, who are residing in South Africa;
  • tutors in undergraduate courses who are also postgraduate students; and
  • sponsored South African students who do not have computers through their funders.

The computers will be loan laptops – not a donation – and they must be returned to UCT at the end of the 2020 academic programme. If the laptop is returned after the 2020 academic programme, there will be no cost to the student. The laptops will be issued to students at a cost of R4 150 that will serve as a deposit, to be charged to the student’s fee account. This charge will be reversed once the laptop is returned after the completion of the 2020 academic programme.

To make it possible to allocate these laptops, UCT needs to cross-check the information we have from Financial Aid, the Postgraduate Office and the faculties with the information we are asking from you in this survey.

While UCT understands the difficulties faced by UCT students who are living in neighbouring countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), we regret that UCT is unable to provide laptops to foreign students in those countries. The logistics are simply not available. SADC and other foreign students without access to computers, as well as South African students who have no online connectivity, will be given an opportunity to catch up with their studies through blended learning (which combines online lectures and face-to-face tutorials) once the university is able to reopen. The academic calendar will be adjusted so that students are not prejudiced in terms of the length of their studies and their funding.

In the meantime, stay healthy and take care of yourselves. We as the UCT leadership are doing our best to be present for you in these difficult circumstances.

With warm regards,

Prof Loretta Feris – DVC: Student Affairs
Prof Sue Harrison – DVC: Research
A/Prof Lis Lange – DVC: Teaching and Learning

Updates will be posted on UCT’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 feature page on the UCT News website.

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