Welcome to the new academic year

31 January 2022 | VC Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng

Dear students, colleagues, parents and sponsors

Greetings and best wishes for a healthy, successful and blessed 2022!

The UCT leadership team and many colleagues are already hard at work on campus. We are in the process of welcoming large numbers of undergraduate and postgraduate students onto campus and into residences. This is always a wonderfully exciting time, and the campus will no doubt be a happy buzz of activity.

I wish to explain some principles that will guide us in our work during this calendar year. Please take note of these as it will guide you in your travels on campus and will ensure we collectively create a vibrant, safe and healthy campus environment.

We believe that learning benefits immeasurably from engagement. At UCT, engagement takes a wide variety of forms, according to the requirements of each student’s academic programme: laboratory work, tutorials, group project work, lectures, field trips, practical work, etc. Together, these face-to-face interactions are the essence of a vibrant campus life. Since March 2020, COVID-19 has made it difficult to maintain face-to-face engagement. From 2022, and to the extent that it is possible within continuing restrictions, we are determined to give every student the best possible learning experience. We will use existing and emerging digital technologies to enhance engagement, taking into account the particular needs and opportunities of each course.

An additional commitment is to ensure a safe campus and as we return more fully now in 2022, we must constantly recognise that COVID-19 is still very much with us and we must act responsibly in this regard. We should all act in alignment with the national guidelines and adhere to all protocols.

UCT has proposed a mandatory vaccination policy for the institution and we are currently consulting with the UCT community on this matter. Council will make a final deliberation in early March in this regard. Until Council communicates its final decision, unvaccinated students will be allowed to register.

We have worked hard to ensure that all faculties and departments are prepared for the year. All faculties have developed comprehensive faculty specific plans to ensure teaching and learning is successfully delivered. These will be communicated directly from faculties. Please note that there will be varied approaches across faculties with varied degrees of face-to-face, online and other forms of educational engagements. Please ensure that you connect directly with your faculty for their specific approach.

The best contribution all staff and students can make is to fully vaccinate themselves, and to work extremely hard from the very start of the year. This will contribute to a most productive and successful year.

More detailed communication will be made available to undergraduate and postgraduate students respectively: including by the Deans of the various faculties, and in time by course convenors.

I wish you all the best for the year 2022 and encourage you to become fully engaged in your academic pursuits and in campus life. Work as hard as possible and remember to contribute to creating a safe, healthy campus for all.

May UCT have a most blessed year! And remember: #Unleash the best in you!

Yours sincerely

Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng

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