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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UCT’s response to COVID-19

COVID-19 is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March 2020 and to implement a national lockdown from 26 March 2020. UCT is taking the threat of infection in our university community extremely seriously, and this page will be updated with the latest COVID-19 information. Please note that the information on this page is subject to change depending on current lockdown regulations.

Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, has in June 2022 repealed some of South Africa’s remaining COVID-19 regulations: namely, sections 16A, 16B and 16C of the Regulations Relating to the Surveillance and the Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions under the National Health Act. We are now no longer required to wear masks or limit gatherings. Venue restrictions and checks for travellers coming into South Africa have now also been removed.

In July 2022, the University of Cape Town (UCT) revised its approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic on UCT campuses in 2022.
Read the latest document available on the UCT policies web page.


Campus communications


Adjusting to our new environment 16:50, 23 June 2022
VC Open Lecture and other updates 17:04, 13 April 2022
Feedback from UCT Council meeting of 12 March 2022 09:45, 18 March 2022
UCT Council
March 2022 graduation celebration 16:45, 8 March 2022
Report on the meeting of UCT Council of 21 February 2022 19:30, 21 February 2022
UCT Council
COVID-19 management 2022 11:55, 14 February 2022
Return to campus arrangements 2022 11:15, 4 February 2022

UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre

On Wednesday, 20 July, staff from the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Faculty of Health Sciences came together with representatives from the Western Cape Government at the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre at Forest Hill Residence to acknowledge the centre’s significance in the fight against COVID-19 and to thank its staff for their contributions. The centre opened on 1 September 2021 with the aim of providing quality vaccination services to UCT staff, students and the nearby communities, as well as to create an opportunity for medical students from the Faculty of Health Sciences to gain practical public health skills. The vaccination centre ceased operations on Friday, 29 July 2022.

With the closure of the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, if you still require access to a COVID-19 vaccination site please visit the CovidComms SA website to find an alternative.


“After almost a year of operation, the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, located at the Forest Hill residence complex in Mowbray, will close on Friday, 29 July 2022. I am extremely grateful and proud of all staff, students and everyone involved in this important project.”
– Vice-Chancellor Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng

With the closure of the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, if you still require access to a COVID-19 vaccination site please visit the CovidComms SA website to find an alternative.

Thank You UCT Community

Frequently asked questions


Global Citizen Asks: Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe & Effective?

UCT’s Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM) collaborated with Global Citizen, speaking to trusted experts to dispel vaccine misinformation.

If you have further questions about the COVID-19 vaccine check out the FAQ produced by the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation (DTHF). The DTHF has developed a dedicated chat function where you can ask your vaccine-related questions on the bottom right hand corner of the website.

IDM YouTube channel | IDM website


“As a contact university, we look forward to readjusting our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in 2023 as the COVID-19 regulations have been repealed.”
– Prof Harsha Kathard, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning

We are continuing to monitor the situation and we will be updating the UCT community regularly – as and when there are further updates. If you are concerned or need more information, students can contact the Student Wellness Service on 021 650 5620 or 021 650 1271 (after hours), while staff can contact 021 650 5685.