Guidelines on completing 2020 academic year

27 July 2020 | DVC A/Prof Lis Lange

Dear students

In consultation with the faculties and with student representatives, the University of Cape Town (UCT) Executive has decided to finish the 2020 academic year using remote teaching.  This decision, which implies a change in the academic calendar, has been approved by Senate and Council.

The country is currently experiencing the predicted peak of COVID-19 infection and we are advised that another peak is likely to occur in August.  We will not be able to maintain the necessary social distancing if we return to face-to-face teaching in campus lecture halls and other academic spaces in the fourth term. Nor will we be able to accommodate all students in residence under safe conditions.

Taking this into account as well as what we have learnt from the experience of remote teaching in Quarter 2,  we are continuing the second semester of 2020 in the same way. 

The amended UCT calendar is aligned with the phased return of students, including those registered in performing arts courses and those needing to undertake practical blocks. The phased return will also continue, by invitation, for select groups of postgraduate research students who need to use on-campus facilities to complete their research projects, where this can be accommodated appropriately.

Calendar highlights

The most important points to highlight in the new calendar are as follows:

The second semester has 64 teaching days and 13 days of vacation between 21 September and 4 October.

  • Quarter 3 starts on  3 August  and ends on 18 September.
  • Quarter 4 starts on 5 October and ends on 13 November.
  • From 5 October to 16 October there is a practical block for the second quarter component of first semester
  • From 19 October to 13 November there is a practical block for second semester courses.
  • Consolidation takes place between 16 and 18 November
  • Exams for second semester courses start on 19 November and end on 9 December
  • Exams for first semester courses start on 10 December and end on 22 December.

Please note that the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment and the Faculty of Health Sciences are managing their calendars in a slightly different manner due to their specific requirements, however, they will also be teaching remotely.

Return to campus

We are well aware that many students would prefer to return to university residences.  We need to manage simultaneously students’ needs, health risks and the availability of safe spaces under lockdown conditions. Therefore we will continue with a phased approach for the return of students, where possible or needed. 

During September and October different groups of students will be invited to return to campus to complete work in their courses. Some of these students will be invited to return to residences, while others, who did not live in residence accommodation earlier this year, will be invited to come back to campus. The identification of these students will be done centrally in collaboration with the faculties and the Department of Student Affairs. Within the next month we will be making specific announcements as to how this will take place.

I wish you and your loved ones well. Please continue to look after yourselves during these very challenging times.

Warm regards

Associate Professor Lis Lange
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning


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