Limited invitations to return to residence

01 July 2020 | Professor Loretta Feris

Dear students

The University of Cape Town (UCT) will be issuing a very limited number of invitations to undergraduate and postgraduate students to return to residence. This is happening in a phased approach, which is already under way and will continue during July and August 2020. These invitations will be sent only to limited groups of students to enable them to complete the 2020 academic year.

This invitation is separate from the return of researchers, postdoctoral fellows and postgraduates to campus that was announced on 17 June by Professor Sue Harrison, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation.

The Minister of Higher Education and Training has advised that one-third of university students may return to universities, however we are limiting that proportion because of the soaring rate of new COVID-19 infections, especially in the Western Cape. Our first priority is always to protect the lives and well-being of students and staff, and we hope to do so by keeping a stricter limit on the number of returning students in this phase.

Many of you have written to me, the Vice-Chancellor, your deans and your lecturers about the hazards of studying under very difficult conditions at home. So we have prioritised students whose living conditions do not allow them to participate meaningfully in remote teaching and learning. In determining which students will receive invitations to return, we have committed to an approach that prioritises both the socioeconomic need and the academic benefit of being in res for each student; is consistent across the faculties and based on measurable data; and aligns with public health considerations and our collective responsibility as a university to ensure the safety of students and staff members. Our aim is to be fair and transparent in selecting students to receive these invitations and to be able to provide a strong basis for each decision.

This cohort of returning students will continue with online learning and research in residence. Students in private accommodation must communicate with their lessors to establish whether they may return to that accommodation to continue remote learning and whether the accommodation is in compliance with COVID-19 protocols. Students returning to private accommodation will not receive a letter of invitation from the university and will need to complete a Form 6 sworn affidavit, which is published in Government Gazette 43364, to enable their travel.

Invitations to return to UCT residences in August will include details about the strict public health conditions each student must agree to before coming back, to reduce the chance of infection. This is how we expect you to fulfil your joint responsibility to yourself, to each other, to UCT and to South Africa – because any infection that comes on campus can also be carried off campus, into buses, taxis, shops and people’s homes.

Students will need to agree to be self-reliant for living under lockdown; adhere to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period; wash or sanitise hands regularly; use a mask over the nose and mouth at all times when leaving your room; cough and sneeze into your elbow; maintain a physical distance of 1.5m from others; clean up after using public spaces; and not visit each other in rooms and apartments. These steps are all necessary public health practices to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Students who have co-morbidities or are in mid-trimester pregnancy will need to undergo more detailed health screening for risk assessment. The most important priority is your health.

Invitations, including a permit for intra-provincial travel, will be issued via email. If you do not receive an invitation to return, you will not be allowed to do so. This is for your own health and safety. We know that many of you find it hard to study away from UCT. We know you miss your friends, and we miss you too. But the risk of bringing people into res too quickly is simply not justified. Every student, in res or at home, will still have virtual access to UCT facilities such as the library, Student Wellness Service and faculty support.

Whether you receive an invitation to return or not, please remember that we are all in this crisis together. We all share a joint responsibility for helping each other to avoid becoming infected, as well as for showing compassion for those who do test positive, and those who are in greatest danger from the virus. We can stay connected virtually, as I know many of you are doing, through online groups and virtual meetings.

Thank you for showing your care in this way. Please also take a moment to encourage the staff members at UCT who continue to work hard on your behalf. They are part of your community too. For now, all my colleagues at UCT and I stand together with you, even though we have to stay apart.

With kind regards

Professor Loretta Feris
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Transformation

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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.