UCT remains flexible as deadlines shift due to COVID-19

01 June 2020 | Story Kim Cloete. Photo University of Cape Town. Read time 6 min.
UCT Registrar, Royston Pillay, says the university remains flexible in the wake of COVID-19.
UCT Registrar, Royston Pillay, says the university remains flexible in the wake of COVID-19.

University of Cape Town (UCT) Registrar, Royston Pillay, has reassured the campus community that management is working flexibly around a range of deadlines amid the uncertainty of COVID-19.

Pillay said allowances had to be made given the unprecedented times the country is going through. UCT was balancing multiple complexities but would align its deadlines and decisions with the prescribed government requirements.

He said UCT was keeping “an open mind” about extending the deadline for admissions for first-year students beyond 31 July 2020.

“We do think that if Grade 12 students are back at school on 1 June, there’s less of a need to extend the application deadline beyond 31 July. But we are considering the fact that students in less resourced schools may need more time for assistance to complete the application process and navigate their way through the system.”

Pillay said there had been a slight lag in applications to study at UCT, relative to the first week of May 2019. He attributed this to the lockdown situation, but expected it to correct itself when schools reopen for Grade 12 learners in June.

National Benchmark Tests

The National Benchmark Tests (NBT), which most university applicants write every year, are under discussion at UCT. Stellenbosch University recently announced that it would not utilise NBT scores for selection and placement purposes for the 2021 intake of students, given the uncertainty due to COVID-19.

“We are currently in discussion with our Centre for Educational Testing for Access and Placement at UCT, as well as our faculties in terms of how UCT is going to deal with the NBT requirement, which has become a fundamental part of our admissions regime in most of our faculties,” said Pillay.

He said UCT management was also considering how final-year undergraduate students who were applying for their honours would be affected if course deadlines extended beyond 2020, but that the university was making plans to ease the situation.

Advice for postgraduate applications

Results from the first semester in 2020 are due to be posted by the end of July.

“We advise students that they should apply for honours on the basis of these results. We are expecting that final results will be available by 18 January 2021.”

UCT would make allowances to accommodate late results from students applying from other higher education South African institutions, to study at postgraduate level.  

Plans for exams

Exams in 2020 would be based on the revised 2020 academic calendar. In terms of the updated calendar, first semester exams would largely be online, while in the second semester, the university planned on “invigilated exams in November and December 2020, with some deviations from that”.

He said the university was acutely aware of social distancing requirements, particularly in the case of invigilated exams, but that it was confident that appropriate safety arrangements could be made.

There had been some concern about social distancing in large centres, such as the UCT Sports Centre and the Sarah Baartman Hall, but a reduced number of invigilated exams this year would help.

2021 academic year

UCT has shifted the start of the 2021 academic year by two weeks. The original date for the beginning of the 2021 academic year was 15 February. This has provisionally been moved to 1 March.

“It is important to stress that the calendar has been revised based on the best information at the time it was developed. Things remain fluid, but at this stage it has gone through the appropriate structures and has been approved by Senate.”

Meanwhile, Pillay said fee-related adjustments for the dropping of courses were currently under consideration.

Accessing degree certificates

Pillay also responded to queries from students and graduates about how to access degree certificates. Graduation ceremonies in April were suspended shortly before the lockdown kicked in.

“We set up a system to issue the degree certificates. There was reasonable take-up and students came in to fetch them, but we had to stop that after the lockdown commenced,” explained the Registrar.

Graduates would be able to collect their certificates once they were allowed back on campus, and, he said, he was aware that students who had already qualified would need certification for job applications and potential further study at other universities.

“The important point to stress is that transcripts are already available to all affected students online via Peoplesoft. These are official documents and students can access them remotely. The link to it is via the Student Record office online and the details are on the web.”

Engagement and consultation

Decisions had been made through a process of engagement with the Deans Advisory Committees in each faculty; by working with groups of faculty members and with faculty board members at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. UCT’s Senate Executive Committee, which is empowered to act for the Senate in emergency circumstances, has also been hard at work.

“In addition, statutory bodies, including the university Senate, the Institutional Forum and the UCT Council, have each had formal meetings to consider the university’s response to COVID-19.”

Pillay was commenting and responding to questions during an online staff assembly, hosted by Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng on 14 May 2020.

Phakeng and other members of the UCT executive provided updates on the university’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic at the online staff assembly, attended by over 3 000 staff members.


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Coronavirus Disease 2019 updates

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March. This was followed by the implementation of a national lockdown, which has been in effect since midnight on 26 March and has recently been extended to 30 April. The intention of this drastic measure is to “flatten the curve” and contain the spread of the coronavirus to enable healthcare workers to more effectively treat those affected.

UCT is taking the threat of infection in our university community extremely seriously, and this page will be updated regularly with the latest COVID-19 information.

Campus updates

 

Daily updates


Thursday, 25 June 10:15, 25 June 2020
Tuesday, 23 June 12:30, 23 June 2020
Thursday, 18 June 17:35, 18 June 2020
Wednesday, 17 June 10:45, 17 June 2020
Tuesday, 2 June 12:20, 2 June 2020
Friday, 29 May 09:25, 29 May 2020
Monday, 25 May 14:00, 25 May 2020
Thursday, 21 May 12:00, 21 May 2020
Wednesday, 6 May 10:00, 6 May 2020
Tuesday, 5 May 17:05, 5 May 2020
Thursday, 30 April 17:10, 30 April 2020
Tuesday, 28 April 10:30, 28 April 2020
Friday, 24 April 09:35, 24 April 2020
Thursday, 23 April 17:00, 23 April 2020
Wednesday, 22 April 14:25, 22 April 2020
Monday, 20 April 17:45, 20 April 2020
Friday, 17 April 12:30, 17 April 2020
Thursday, 16 April 09:45, 16 April 2020
Tuesday, 14 April 11:30, 14 April 2020
Thursday, 9 April 09:00, 9 April 2020
Wednesday, 8 April 15:40, 8 April 2020
Wednesday, 1 April 15:50, 1 April 2020
Friday, 27 March 11:40, 27 March 2020
Thursday, 26 March 18:30, 26 March 2020
Tuesday, 24 March 15:40, 24 March 2020
Monday, 23 March 15:40, 23 March 2020
Friday, 20 March 16:00, 20 March 2020
Thursday, 19 March 09:15, 19 March 2020
Wednesday, 18 March 16:00, 18 March 2020
Tuesday, 17 March 12:50, 17 March 2020
Monday, 16 March 17:15, 16 March 2020

Campus communications


Pre-paid data for UCT students 14:25, 22 April 2020
Update for postgraduate students 12:55, 20 April 2020
UCT Human Resources and COVID-19 16:05, 19 March 2020
UCT confirms second COVID-19 case 09:15, 19 March 2020
Update on UCT COVID-19 response 13:50, 11 March 2020
Update on COVID-19 17:37, 6 March 2020

Resources

Video messages from the Department of Medicine

Getting credible, evidence-based, accessible information and recommendations relating to COVID-19

The Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital, are producing educational video material for use on digital platforms and in multiple languages. The information contained in these videos is authenticated and endorsed by the team of experts based in the Department of Medicine. Many of the recommendations are based on current best evidence and are aligned to provincial, national and international guidelines. For more information on UCT’s Department of Medicine, please visit the website.


To watch more videos like these, visit the Department of Medicine’s YouTube channel.

Useful information from UCT

External resources


News and opinions


Statements and media releases


Media releases



Read more  

Statements from Government



 
 

In an email to the UCT community, Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said:
“COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, is a rapidly changing epidemic. [...] Information [...] will be updated as and when new information becomes available.”

 

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.

 

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