UCT student support services during lockdown

21 May 2020 | Professor Loretta Feris

Dear students

When we embarked on online learning at the University of Cape Town (UCT), we knew it would not be an easy transition. Many of you are handling the new way of working, while some of you are not coping very well with the challenges you face. This is to be expected, especially considering the vastly different socio-economic conditions under which students are learning. So I want to thank you for doing the best you can under these difficult circumstances.

I want you to know that we have seen the resilience, perseverance and determination many of you have demonstrated, along with all the hard work you have put in, driven by the shared commitment to completing the academic year.

You are defying the odds, and we are very proud of you. If you are struggling, keep in mind that making the effort is half the battle won. We want to walk this journey with you as much as possible, so we want you to know about the types of student support available to each of you, even during the lockdown, through the Student Wellness Service (SWS) and the Office for Inclusivity and Change (OIC).

Peer Counselling

Dynamic peer counsellors in the SWS provide support to students (in English, isiXhosa and Afrikaans) through four focus areas:

Counselling: Telephonic or online counselling sessions are booked online, via email or through the UCT App. Common topics include academic concerns, relationship or family issues, adjustment difficulties, coping with anxiety or depression, and substance abuse.

Health and wellness: Peer counsellors focus on the maintenance and promotion of overall physical health and wellness, by offering education and awareness in collaboration with a medical team of nurses and doctors. Peer counsellors encourage students to have a balance between physical health, mental health and academic demands.

Socio-emotional adjustment: Adjusting to UCT was challenging, even before COVID-19 was added to the mix. Peer counsellors help students adjust to the new normal.

Academic support: Students often struggle with transitioning or adjusting to a new environment, and this can interfere with their academic progress. So peer counselling offers coping skills as well as helpful resources and information.

More information is available via these channels:

Survivor support

To continue supporting survivors of sexual assault, the OIC is running a weekly, online Survivor Support Group every Tuesday evening from 17:30 to 19:30. These groups will continue virtually until all staff and students have returned to campus.

Adjusting to this unusual period is taking a massive effort by all students and staff members. While we remain far apart from each other physically, we are still a campus community. The UCT executive is committed to continuing to support you as much as possible.

Stay safe and take care of yourselves and others by practising social distancing.


Professor Loretta Feris
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Transformation

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