Thank you to all staff who attended the special online assembly held on 13 October. As the executive, we appreciate the over 2 000 of you who joined as we engaged meaningfully on critical issues pertaining to the university during this period.
If you were unable to join the online session live, you can access the recording of the assembly to catch up on discussions and the updates shared. This was an important platform for the executive to share updates and an opportunity for staff to raise any concerns they have during this unprecedented time.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to work differently and we have adapted and continue to adapt. You have all shown great resilience and commitment and I too am committed to safeguarding and continuing the academic project as tasked by Council. This I can only do with your support, and the staff assembly showed that the executive can continue counting on all of you.
Many of you had questions related to working from home and we continue to encourage those who can, to do just that. Although we are on lockdown Level 1, the risk to staff and students is still present and thus, we will be proposing to Senate that teaching continues online into the first semester of the 2021 academic year. This does not mean that we are not cognisant of the difficulties that some of our students are facing.
We know that providing resources to students cannot make up for their personal circumstances which have a direct effect on the success of online learning. A conducive learning environment is important and thus the university has worked on returning vulnerable students to campus. The university is also making available various mentoring and tutoring services to students, which is very important as they prepare for their final year exams.
This year the exam block will continue until 9 December. The 2021 academic year will commence on 15 March 2021 to allow for the various administrative tasks that need to take place. Both our undergraduate and postgraduate applications for study in 2021 are higher than they were during the same period last year. This is a testament to the hard work that all staff have put in to ensure that the academic project continues despite the global pandemic.
If you are able to, I also ask that you consider donating towards the COVID-19 UCT Emergency Fund, no matter how small the amount. Every little bit counts.
Thank you again for your continued dedication. We know that it is not always easy, and I encourage everyone to practice self-care and to recognise that others may be struggling too. Let us embody compassion in all that we do while continuing to strive for excellence.
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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