Dear postgraduate students and supervisors
Welcome to our postgraduate students, both those returning and those joining us from other institutions. I sincerely hope your postgrad studies at UCT will be rewarding and fulfilling.
We recognise that our postgraduates represent the future of South Africa, be it as researchers, entrepreneurs, innovators, policy makers, civil servants or professionals, you have an important role to play in shaping our society. In recognition of this, UCT endeavours to offer a well-rounded education and experience to our students, with opportunities for greater networking and personal growth. I encourage you all to look out for these opportunities and take advantage of them wherever possible, as your postgraduate years, and the networks formed during them, often form the foundation of a future career.
This welcoming email from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) provides an opportunity to highlight some key aspects of the postgraduate experience, and to make readily accessible some of the many resources to assist you with your journey. It also highlights some logistics around completing and submitting your thesis or dissertation if you are approaching the end of your postgraduate journey.
Postgraduate studies at UCT in 2023
We have a wide and diverse range of postgraduate programmes at UCT, each run according to the unique needs and requirements of the specific field. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and the past few ‘pandemic years’ have opened new ways of working, UCT is largely a contact-based university which prioritises face-to-face teaching and research environments that promote participation. That said, a number of our programmes have incorporated online and blended learning into the syllabus. This flexibility allows for a robust, customised delivery of all our programmes.
When in doubt, your first port of call should always be the relevant postgraduate administrator associated with your host department.
Communication on your programme from your faculty and department
Each postgraduate programme at UCT is unique and communication around the details of your specific programme will come to you directly from your department. If you have not yet received all the information you need, keep an eye on your myUCT email inbox. *You can also contact the relevant postgraduate administrator associated with your host department.
* Official communication from UCT will always be sent to your myUCT inbox. If you do not check this inbox regularly we recommend you automatically forward all the emails from your UCT inbox to the mailbox of your choice.
Online registration for new and returning students
The first wave of online registrations for the 2023 coursework programmes has reached completion, while registration for research programmes is ongoing and specific programmes will have their own deadlines. If you have not already registered, I advise you to do so soonest. Each faculty has a different process for postgraduate registration, so be sure to note the dates and guidelines for your faculty.
International students who need support can reach out to the International Academic Programmes Office at firstname.lastname@example.org for pre-registration assistance and support services.
MoU and PPA
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) or Progress and Planned Activity (PPA) forms your agreement with your supervisor. These are important for the joint planning of your work to assist in keeping you on track – both in terms of content and timelines – and in terms of expectation setting. Having shared expectations is key to building a healthy student/supervisor relationship. It is really useful to re-visit these together at regular points in the year to track progress and agree to deviations when your findings require it. Finally, the MoU and PPA serve as points from which to work if things do not go to plan or difficulties arise.
Getting ready to submit and finalise your studies
While we welcome those starting, many of you will be getting ready to submit your reports, dissertations and theses. Congratulations to those who submitted by the 13 February deadline to avoid 2023 re-registration. For those planning submission, please ensure that your intention to submit documents are submitted at least six weeks before your dissertation or thesis, to ensure time for your examiners to be in place as you submit. Also, pay attention to the word limits of your document, be sure that you have avoided all forms of plagiarism and that if specific permissions need to be motivated for, such as to include publications verbatim in a PhD thesis or to embargo the thesis for Intellectual Property (IP) reasons, that this is done well ahead of submitting.
We are piloting a new “writing for completion” initiative from March to May – please ask your supervisor about it if you are interested. We are also piloting the inclusion of an oral exam in the PhD examination process – 30 PhD candidates under examination this semester will be included in the pilot through an opt-in system.
Keeping on track with your postgraduate studies and graduating on time is key. It keeps you motivated, ensures the new knowledge you generate is timeous and ensures accessibility to UCT’s limited postgrad places. As postgrad study is largely driven by you as an individual, being able to find additional resources and to access inputs on top of your supervisory team is very useful. UCT offers several excellent resources to keep our students up-to-date and provide necessary support. Here is an overview of some:
For students in distress or needing immediate help, please contact the UCT Student Careline by calling 0800 24 25 26 (free from a Telkom line) or send an SMS to 31393 for a call-back service. It offers 24/7 telephonic counselling, advice, referral facilities and general support to anyone facing any mental health challenges.
Connectivity and mobile data
Wi-Fi, through the secure world-wide roaming access service, eduroam, is available on all UCT campuses and in residences, but there are times when students need access off-campus. Here are some tips around connectivity and data usage:
Managing your mobile data:
A key challenge we face in 2023 is load-shedding. UCT has put measures in place to ensure that minimal teaching and learning time is lost during load-shedding, that research facilities are disturbed as little as possible and that the impact on all other university operations is reduced as much as possible.
The City of Cape Town issues regular notices in advance ahead of load-shedding. UCT’s upper, middle and lower campuses, the health sciences campus and all residences are in area 15. Hiddingh and the Breakwater (Graduate School of Business) campuses are in area 7, while the Philippi satellite campus is in area 16.
I wish you the very best for the year ahead.
Professor Sue Harrison
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation
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