Dear colleagues and students
This campus announcement aims to keep the UCT community updated on recent developments on campus.
1. Remembering former VC, Dr Stuart Saunders
Former UCT Vice-Chancellor, Dr Stuart Saunders, passed away on 12 February 2021 after a short illness. Dr Saunders led UCT, for the most part, during the darkest days of apartheid. During that period, he played a leading role in driving the university’s policy to provide education of international excellence and to be a leading research university.
2. Further details on undergraduate studying in 2021
As already communicated, UCT has elected to pursue teaching and learning in 2021 in terms of a ‘physically distanced, low-density campus’ approach. This is to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19 during the second wave, and in preparation for a possible third wave.
Please take note that different courses have different attendance requirements and approaches to learning. Students need to consult faculty web pages and contact relevant course convenors.
3. Student 2020 debt appeals and financial assistance for 2021
The provision of financial assistance to eligible students at undergraduate and postgraduate level is one of the key priorities of UCT.
There is no doubt that 2020 had an impact on all students and their families due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The university was also impacted in terms of its operations and responsibilities. The budget approved by the UCT Council for 2020 had to be substantially reduced, impacted by students vacating residences, and those given additional time to drop courses where they had challenges with managing online learning. Despite these financial and related pressures, UCT has made available limited funding to provide some financial assistance to students who still have outstanding fees for the 2020 academic year and who are at risk of being unable to continue with their studies in 2021.
4. New Sexual Misconduct Policy approved
The finalisation of the new Disciplinary Procedures for Sexual Misconduct is a major development with regards to UCT’s response to sexual offences. The policy is aimed at achieving the objectives of the new Sexual Misconduct Policy, especially around the alignment of a survivor-centred process. The policy replaces the current UCT Sexual Offences policy and the Sexual Harassment policy. The university is committed to creating an environment in which the dignity of all staff members and students is respected. All complaints of sexual offences and/or sexual harassment are taken seriously and in confidence. An appropriate response to unacceptable behaviour and related actions will remain a leadership priority.
5. Opportunities for lecturer development in a national initiative
Professors, associate professors, senior lecturers, lecturers, and junior lecturers are invited to apply for the Higher Education Leadership and Management University Lecturer Development Programme. Universities South Africa is inviting applications from academics to take part in this programme.
6. New implementation date for UCT’S revised Employment Equity Policy
UCT has made the decision to delay the implementation of the revised Employment Equity Policy to 1 March 2021, in order to ensure sufficient preparation time for the university community and administrative staff. The executive has no wish to unduly delay the introduction of this revised policy, which was approved by Council and scheduled for implementation on 1 February 2021. The belief is that it is prudent to designate the rest of the month as a transition period, to give all faculties and departments the chance to become fully acquainted with its provisions.
7. Update on COVID-19 cases
As at 15 February, the university has 336 reported cases of COVID-19 among non-health sciences staff members, with 290 recoveries. The number of students who have tested positive stands at 100. The university has lost 19 staff members and two students to the virus.
Please be reminded that updates on COVID-19 cases within the university community are now shared every second week. Updates will be included as part of the campus announcement issued immediately after the first and the 15th of every month.
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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.
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.