Return to on-campus activities

16 February 2023

Dear colleagues and students

The University of Cape Town (UCT) is now in a position to fully resume its academic project, including the face-to-face teaching and learning programme and research programmes, with effect from Friday, 17 February 2023.

In instances where it is not immediately possible to return to lectures on campus, such courses will only resume in-person on Monday, 20 February. This could include but is not limited to instances where it is practically preferable or where plans had already been in place to continue with classes remotely for the remainder of the week. Applicable decisions should be shared directly with students through the various communication channels for specific courses.

Staff members, postdoctoral research fellows and research students who have been working remotely are also encouraged to revert to on-campus operations as of Friday, 17 February.

The university’s management has had various engagements during the course of the week, including another engagement with the SRC today, Thursday, 17 February. The meeting sought to further discuss the issues raised – around fee blocks and student accommodation – in order to resolve these.

Earlier on the same day, as part of the regular weekly meeting, the UCT executive had further discussions to review and finalise the additional measures that have been put in place to resolve these issues.

The university has taken all reasonable measures to ensure that as many academically eligible students as possible receive funding support. This has been difficult to attain, given that UCT is operating on a deficit budget this year; and that the cumulative historic student debt currently stands at R413 million.

An update on the various measures put in place is as follows:

Commitment to additional funding

The UCT management has committed to making R5 million available to assist students with fee blocks on condition that, through fundraising initiatives, the SRC matches this amount. Management will support the SRC in these fundraising efforts.

Fee blocks

The decision by Council to increase the fee block threshold from R1 000 to R10 000 for South African students has enabled over 3 400 students to register for the 2023 academic year.

Financial aid appeals

The university had a total of 269 financial aid appeals. To date, 80% of the allocated budget has been utilised for those assisted. From the appeals processed so far, 68% met the eligibility criteria for assistance.

Grace period

Since the last update on 13 February, almost 100 more students have had successful grace period applications. This takes the total to 336 successful applications (62%).

Further funding support

In addition to existing means of funding support for missing middle students (whose combined annual household income is above the NSFAS threshold of R350 000 but less than R600 000), the university has established a partnership with a financial institution to provide funding on favourable terms. Other banks have recently made funding available to designated students. This effort concluded in January and resulted in R1,1 million being made available to clear 2022 debt.


There has also been additional progress with regards to accommodation issues. The university has successfully made arrangements with an off-campus service provider to accommodate a specific group of students without the required three-months upfront deposit. This is in addition to previous measures where students who were in vacation accommodation were allowed to remain in residences while they were engaging with the Department of Finance on reducing their fee debt or with their relevant faculty on Readmission Appeals Committee (RAC) decisions affecting them. The university also provided emergency accommodation to a number of students despite them having not yet settled their debt.

Protest action on campus

The university noted that there were some unlawful acts that were part of the protest action on campus between 13 and 15 February, including the blocking of roads, disruption of classes and intimidation of non-protesting members of the UCT community. The UCT management wishes to make it clear that such acts will not be tolerated when face-to-face classes resume. Should any protester be engaged in an act that is outside the parameters of lawful protest, the university will be left with no option but take appropriate action in accordance with the relevant legal prescripts.

The management reiterates that the impact these unfortunate developments had on many UCT staff and students is regrettable. The patience, understanding and support shown by members of the campus community during this period is highly appreciated.

The UCT Executive

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