Resuming the 2022 teaching year under carefully controlled measures

09 February 2022 | DVC A/Prof Lis Lange

Dear undergraduate students

Welcome to the 2022 academic year. This year will mark a transition towards new ways of teaching and learning at the University of Cape Town (UCT). This is based on our experiences and lessons learnt during the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The primary and secondary schooling sector has now returned to full daily attendance. This decision was made and gazetted by the Department of Basic Education under which the basic schooling system falls. In the case of higher education, the Department of Higher Education and Training, which is our government line department, has not yet changed the regulations governing the operations of universities.

Despite this, UCT has secured permission to start a pilot programme that allows us to reduce the required social distance between individuals while keeping the obligation to wear masks and the systematic use of sanitisers and cleaning of venues in place.

As a result of this, we have been able to increase considerably our ability to use the university teaching space with appropriate ways of teaching in each course. Faculties and the university support services have been working hard to produce a timetable that allows the maximum possible utilisation of space and time for teaching purposes. This has now been finalised. Faculties will communicate details to their students.

The success of this year depends on a variety of critical factors, including the extent of your engagement with your learning. The university is fully invested in re-establishing the rhythm of academic life on campus; your own contribution to this process is very necessary. It is very important for students to attend contact sessions on campus and these sessions can be made obligatory by the course convenors.

The past two years, as part of our commitment to access for all, we offered mostly recorded lectures and, sometimes, academics uploaded recorded lectures from prior years as extra material. This year we have the opportunity for synchronous teaching while those same lectures can be recorded for further reference. This, combined with a variety of educational experiences appropriate to each programme, will give you an engaged student learning experience.

Some students are coming back to the university with a Faculty Examination Committee Readmitted (FECR) status on their academic record. This means that you have been allowed to return to study despite not having met all the academic requirements. We have designed a special programme to support you to improve your marks and the quality of your learning. Attending the programme is a necessity to ensure that there are no further delays in your progression towards graduation. Details of the programme will be announced before the commencement of the academic year.

The type of assessment used in each course is the course convenor’s decision. However, all examinations and tests will take place face-to-face in campus venues. Online exams will only take place should there be a need for heightened lockdown measures to be imposed again.

There are a number of venues available as study spaces and UCT Libraries are fully operational and ready to receive you. The list of available venues will also be published separately.

Please remember that all our activities on campus require that you wear a mask and respect all other health and safety regulations. We need to take care of each other by following these rules. The university is operating with the understanding that we are a self-regulated community. Your lecturers and tutors have the authority to ask you to wear masks; not to allow students in class unless they wear a mask; and to ask students who refuse to wear masks to leave the classroom. The best way of going about this is to agree together on ground rules, especially in terms of circumstances under which staff and students can take off their masks in class.

I do hope that you enjoy and make the most of this progressive return to campus. I am certainly looking forward to a buzzing campus environment and to the reconstitution of the community of students and scholars where we can take care of you personally.

Warm regards

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

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