Academic activities will take place online

16 March 2021 | VC Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng

Dear colleagues and students

I am writing to provide further information and clarity on how the University of Cape Town (UCT) will work this week. Please read this email carefully to understand how you might be affected.

Fee blocks have been lifted

Following on my communication on Sunday, 14 March about the beginning of the academic year, we have implemented Council’s decision to lift students’ fee block on registration in respect of 2020 debt. By the end of yesterday, fee blocks had been lifted for about 1 700 students and 99% of all undergraduate students had been registered across all faculties.

The academic year begins today

All faculties agree that there is no academic reason to further delay the start of the academic programme. The principle of not leaving any student behind applies and all faculties will support students who were delayed in joining the academic programme.

In consultation with the deans, we have decided to start the academic year today, 16 March, with the following provisions:

  • Except for courses with special dispensations, all academic activity will take place only online for this week.
  • No invigilated examinations will take place this week. Tests planned for this week will be rescheduled and course convenors will provide relevant details.
  • UCT Libraries will provide only virtual services this week.

This arrangement will remain in place until Tuesday, 23 March. I will communicate again to provide further updates.

We urge you to maintain health and safety protocols

We note that you may wish to engage in demonstrations or gatherings aligned to the national protest. Please keep in mind that, for the safety of yourself and those around you, all COVID-19 protocols remain in place, especially during activities that attract many people. Any gathering, regardless of its purpose, creates the real risk of creating a super-spreader event. We urge everyone participating in protest activities to continue wearing your masks, keep a physical distance of at least 1.5 m from other people and wash your hands or use sanitisers during any gatherings.

We reiterate UCT’s commitment to access higher education and further emphasise the institution’s decision to not leave any student behind.


Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng

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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.


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Mid-year exams and other updates 17:11, 23 June 2021
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Postgraduate studies at UCT in 2021 09:00, 24 February 2021
Welcome to 2021 14:30, 17 February 2021

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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.


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.