Update on available support services

26 March 2020 | Professor Loretta Feris, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Transformation

Dear students and staff

During these uncertain times, the University of Cape Town (UCT) remains committed to providing support even while you are not on campus and under conditions of self-isolation. We acknowledge that current national and global conditions may create some levels of stress and anxiety. There are two important principles that guide us. First, that we continue to support you to remain healthy, physically and mentally; and second, that operations should continue virtually and online, where possible.

For example, the following support services remain available to you:

Student Financial Aid

Staff are working off site, focusing on finalising student funding for 2020. This includes:

  • Submitting registration data to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to finalise 2020 NSFAS funding
  • Following up with NSFAS on outstanding funding decisions, including late applications submitted in respect of first-time entry students
  • Continuing to pay monthly allowances to students
  • Providing backpay allowances for students who have received new NSFAS funding decisions
  • Submitting and finalising funding appeals with NSFAS on behalf of senior students, and
  • Processing funding to eligible students’ fee accounts.

Important information for financial aid and GAP-funded students will be shared via Vula, so students need to check their Vula Financial Aid tab.

Student Wellness Services

Even while students are away from campus, they can access certain Student Wellness Service (SWS) resources. SWS bookings can be made online, via email or on the UCT mobile app.

To help students through self-isolation and lockdown, SWS has made the following resources available:

Counselling: Students can continue to access their therapists for counselling via telephone or Skype. Sessions can be booked as usual, either online or via email. Students can book with any of the counsellors on the SWS booking site – they don’t have to book with their usual faculty counsellor.

  • Book a counselling session online.
  • Book a debriefing session via email

The UCT Student Care Line continues to provide 24-hour telephonic counselling on 0800 24 25 26.

Beginning in Term 2, therapists will share tips for maintaining physical and mental health online, to support students as the teaching programme shifts to online learning.

Medical Advisory: Students can seek medical advice by calling SWS on 021 650 5620. Please note: these calls are not consultations. Students can also book a request online for a consultation with the Clinical Nurse Practitioner, who will call back at the appointed time.

Beginning in Term 2, the SWS medical team will share health self-help tips online to support students.

COVID – 19 queries from anywhere in South Africa can be directed to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases Hotline: 0800 029 0999.

Psychosocial Support: All SWS social workers will be available for telephonic psychosocial support. Sessions must be booked, as usual,  either online or via email to sws@uct.ac.za.

Referral letters to other facilities and external services will be provided upon receipt of an emailed request.

  • Book for psychosocial support online.
  • Book a counselling session via email.

Peer counselling support:  Peer-counsellors from SWS will offer counselling and public awareness programmes on Monday to Saturday from 12:00 to 17:00. Peer support is also available via telephonic contact, Skype, Zoom and email. Appointments can be arranged via direct messenger or the SWS website.

  • Book for peer counselling support online.
  • Book for peer counselling support via email.
  • Read the public awareness messages on the peer counselling Instagram page: @uct_peercounsellors.

OIC services

Services provided by the Office for Inclusivity and Change (OIC) are continuing via virtual platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business and Zoom. These services help to build and maintain unity and solidarity across UCT – all the more important during the self-isolation caused by the COVID-19 crisis. We call on all UCT stakeholders, students and staff members to meet online to continue their education journeys and transformation improvement plans. In this way, we can sustain the momentum and progress initiated earlier this year, and come back together again in stronger unity.

Critical services for disabled students continue, as does survivor support in the form of individual and group counselling which is being provided online for participating survivors. UCT survivors can join online counselling for individuals and groups, by contacting the new Survivor Support Officer, Yumna Seadat who joins UCT from Rape Crisis.

Academic leadership development

Dr Robert Morell will continue to meet with members of the New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP) and the Next Generation Professoriate (NGP) via Skype and will communicate via newsletters. The relevant members of staff can also use email groups for nGAP and NGP to stay in touch as a cohort.

Social Responsiveness Hub resources for community engaged teaching and research

The Social Responsiveness (SR) hub will meet virtually during this period to support staff and students in their SR activities as follows:

  • Teaching and learning support, led by Associate Professor Janice McMillan, will take place via the Remote Teaching series of webinars offered by the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching in the Centre for Higher Education Development.
  • One-on-one support for students working on Co-op projects will continue remotely during this time, led by Ms Barbara Schmid.
  • Staff in the Engaged Scholarship Programme (ESP), led by Mr Sonwabo Ngcelwane, can access material and engage the ESP team via Vula.
  • The SR Hub will curate a resource pack for taking community-engaged teaching and research online or working remotely.

This information demonstrates our commitment to providing support during these uncertain times. Updates will be communicated to you as they develop.

Stay safe!


Professor Loretta Feris
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Transformation

Updates will be posted on UCT’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 feature page on the UCT News website.

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