What you need to know about coming to UCT in 2021

18 December 2020 | Professor Loretta Feris

Dear students and colleagues

The University of Cape Town (UCT) is already preparing for the 2021 academic year and we are looking forward to welcoming back returning students and helping first-year students to feel at home on campus.

While COVID-19 is still with us, we all need to learn from the lessons of 2020. We’ve seen how difficult it was for many of our students to learn remotely for various reasons, including their social conditions. For safety reasons, UCT will adopt physically distanced learning next year, but in a way that will allow students to benefit from the resources available here. So it’s important that students return to campus in 2021, even if they will be working online. We are working hard to help everyone to succeed.

UCT residences will open on 25 February 2021 for postgraduate students and on 1 March for new and returning undergraduate students.

Some students will be permitted to return to residence earlier, to complete their requirements for the 2020 academic year. To limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, UCT is organising single-room residence accommodation and a ‘safe arrival’ quarantine period. If students become a close contact of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, we will follow the ‘close contact quarantine period’ as prescribed by the Department of Health.

Limiting the spread of COVID-19 is a responsibility we all share

All students, staff members and visitors to UCT will be required to abide by the health and safety procedures and protocols on campus. These protocols are designed to help everyone adhere to the four basic rules:

  • Wear a mask over your mouth and nose in public, including when you leave your residence room (UCT will provide every staff member and student with cloth masks)
  • Keep a distance of at least 1.5 m from other people
  • Sanitise your hands or wash them frequently with soap and water
  • Avoid crowded places and spaces with poor ventilation

Health support is available for students

The Student Wellness Service (SWS) in the Department of Student Affairs will continue to provide pandemic-related support to students, including screening for symptoms on arrival to residence and providing information about the prevention of COVID-19 infection before arrival. UCT’s responses to COVID-19, and the answers to frequently asked questions, are available on our dedicated web page.

The SWS offers primary health care and medical, counselling and social work services, including:

Students will need laptop computers in 2021

For students to receive the full value of UCT’s physically distanced learning in 2021, they will need to have access to their own laptop computers, which will allow them to access online teaching and academic support resources 24/7.

UCT is preparing study spaces on campus that will meet the health and safety protocols under COVID-19 conditions.

These spaces will be clearly marked to indicate the maximum number of occupants to comply with physical distancing requirements. Students using UCT venues and other facilities are required to follow the prescribed rules and regulations and to co-operate with students and staff in observing these limitations.

Students will be informed about what documentation they will need to carry to be allowed on campus in 2021.

While UCT remains an open campus, access points are limited to allow our Campus Protection Services to screen everyone who visits the university, as part of our health and safety precautions.

I wish each of you a restful holiday and a safe arrival to UCT next year.


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 regularly with the latest COVID-19 information. Please note that the information on this page is subject to change depending on current lockdown regulations.

Thank You UCT Community

UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre

The University of Cape Town in partnership with the Western Cape Government (WCG) have reinforced our commitment to bringing hope to the residents of the Mother City with the launch of the world‑class Community of Hope Vaccination Centre that opened its doors on Monday, 30 August 2021.

The site is located on Main Road in Mowbray – in the Forest Hill Residence – and access is from Broad Street. The site is open every Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 15:00 and on Saturday from 09:00 to 13:00. Please allow time for attending to COVID-19 protocols and arrive as early as possible at the vaccination centre.

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UCT statements related to COVID-19 vaccinations

This is a space created for all formal bodies and structures within the university community to share their opinions on the need for a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy. Please note that some editorial judgement may be applied if the received statements go against any constitutional rights, and that no correspondence will be entered into, statements will be posted unedited and as received. Statements can be sent to opinions@uct.ac.za.


Commemorating a year of COVID-19

At midnight on 26 March 2020, South Africa went into the first nationwide hard lockdown. A year later, we remember those who have died and those who have been affected by COVID-19, as well as the pandemic’s effects across society and campus. We are especially grateful for the front-line health workers who have done so much for so many.

#UCTCOVIDPledge – social media elements

Customised Facebook frames and Instagram stickers are now available on those social media platforms. Watch the tutorial videos here to see how easily you can show your support for the #UCTCOVIDPledge.


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.