Initial plans for the 2022 academic year

19 October 2021 | DVC A/Prof Lis Lange

Dear colleagues

I hope you are well. It has been quite a year and we are all looking forward to a break.

On 4 October, Senate approved the Framework for Teaching and Learning in 2022. The Framework takes into account an assessment of the difficulties encountered by staff and students with physically distanced learning during 2021; and the possibility of increasing contact teaching on campus, as a result of the availability of vaccines. The basic elements of the Framework are:

  • We are still planning in the context of a pandemic, with expert predictions that new waves of COVID-19 infection will take place during 2022.
  • All students, whether they are South African or international, are expected to be in Cape Town throughout the academic year and to come to campus as required.
  • Students will have increased contact time with academic staff. The format of the contact, as well as its intensity and frequency, will be decided by each faculty. Students will be required to come to campus to participate in contact teaching in laboratories, workshops, practicals, seminars, tutorials, lectures, and so on. These activities can be part of the duly performed requirements.
  • All forms of face-to-face on-campus teaching and learning activities need to have an online alternative, to allow staff to switch formats seamlessly when necessary. This assumes that lockdown levels will need to increase in response to the predicted different waves of the pandemic.
  • Assessments will be conducted according to programme needs and the academic calendar. Appropriate technologies will be managed so that higher lockdown levels do not become an obstacle to invigilated examinations. Faculties will have to plan assessment alternatives to invigilated examinations on campus should the prevailing lockdown level prohibit in-person assessment.
  • The 2022 academic calendar starts on 14 February. First-year registration and orientation will take place in the preceding two weeks, with residences opening in late January.

The management of UCT venues and the timetable under pandemic conditions is not an easy task. We are working with the faculties, the Office of the Registrar and the Properties & Services Department to satisfy all faculties’ needs for venue allocations according to their pedagogic choices. Faculties are expected to submit teaching plans by 1 December.

In the context of the pandemic, the already growing prevalence of mental health presentations in all populations has increased further. Isolation, loss, and poor health have had a deleterious impact on people’s general wellbeing in every country and have been acutely felt amongst students and staff in our own context.

For this reason, I encourage each of us to exercise more than your normal amount of patience towards both colleagues and students; to think twice before we respond out of stress and fatigue to the requests for assistance we will undoubtedly receive. I appeal to your sense of compassion particularly in dealing with individual student cases. Responding with generosity and empathy can make a positive difference in your life as well as theirs.

It has been a very long road for everybody, and we still have some way to go. You have been fantastic in delivering education under incredibly trying conditions, and in contributing to our planning for 2022. Council discussed the proposal on vaccinations at UCT in 2022, and further updates regarding this will be shared in due course through the usual post-Council communication channel. Thank you for your fortitude.

Take care of yourselves.

Warm regards

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

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