Report on UCT Council meeting of 19 June

28 June 2021

Dear members of the UCT community

Firstly, and on behalf of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Council, I wish all students well for the examinations that are currently underway.

We understand the challenges posed by the trying economic climate and the COVID-19 pandemic. We wish you strength and the resilience to pursue your studies with diligence – as difficult as the path might be; I know that your commitment and hard work will be most worthwhile.

This brings me to the very exciting upcoming moment in the UCT annual calendar – the graduation celebrations that will take place between 12 and 19 July. Council congratulates all those who will receive their degrees. This is an important milestone that will anchor your future endeavours. Given the pandemic, the graduation process has been amended in order to take into account the health and safety of all students, families, and educators. We look forward to a time when we are able to celebrate graduation occasions in person.

The UCT Council met on Saturday, 19 June 2021, with a bumper agenda that demanded and attracted robust debate. Council, as is its role, deliberated the many items and came to several major decisions which I wish to share with you.

Firstly, Council debated the proposal for the renaming of Smuts Hall and resolved that the current name be changed with immediate effect. This residence will be known as Upper Campus Residence until such time that a permanent name is confirmed. This is an important moment which should be seen as an opportunity for us to forge a new path together. I am confident that, whilst we have varied perspectives and opinions, we will be able to  reach a consensus on a new name that contributes to building and strengthening our shared identity and an inclusive future. I have already written to you separately on this matter.

Building a shared identity and a common purpose across the university as a whole is a key objective of Vision 2030. Our vice-chancellor has clearly communicated the intentions of the Vision 2030 through her engagements with the university community, and Council is unified in its endorsement of Vision 2030. To be successful, we will need to see a fundamental change in our culture at both the individual and the collective levels. With this in mind, the executive team shared with Council the paths that the implementation of Vision 2030 will follow. It was clear to Council, in endorsing this way forward, that this approach will result in the tangible changes that will be required to meet the “massive transformative purpose” that is at the core of this blueprint for the future.

Vision 2030 emphasises that transformation is a required dimension of all aspects of what we do. Following from this, Council had asked the vice-chancellor to provide a framework that would show how the principles of transformation will be applied as the work of implementation unfolds. This framework, also endorsed by Council, brings together our priorities in attracting, supporting and retaining talented undergraduate and postgraduate students from all walks of life. It emphasises the priorities of achieving equity in staff appointments and career progression, of engaged scholarship that contributes to the challenges of our times, and of our responsibilities as an internationally recognised university in, and for, Afrika. The transformation framework also prioritises placemaking: buildings and spaces that enable and shape an inclusive community; our virtual identity and the ways in which we use online opportunities; and the lived values that shape our institutional culture. Council noted that this approach is aligned with the requirements of the higher education sector as a whole, and with UCT’s current transformation initiatives.

At the heart of UCT endeavours is its robust scholarship and research credentials. Council was delighted to adopt the 2020 Research Report of the Senate. Council noted the report as a record of the far-reaching research activities of the academic staff and the faculties of UCT. The report is a showcase for the excellence and creativity that is prevalent in the corridors of our beloved institution.

Council further recommended, for submission to the Minister of Higher Education, a statutory provision to enable a process for dealing with allegations of breaches of the Council code of conduct. Council also approved a set of procedures related to the implementation of the Council code of conduct. This is a step demonstrating Council’s commitment to continuously enhance ethical behaviour, governance and fairness.

Council approved the UCT annual financial report and the annual financial statement (AFS) 2020. It is pleasing to note that our university is financially sustainable despite the challenging economic environment.

Council furthermore approved three important policies for UCT:

  1. the UCT Disciplinary Procedure;
  2. the Policy Addressing Bullying; and
  3. the UCT Collections and Stewardship Policy.

These policies address various past issues that have been brought to Council’s attention. Through the implementation of these policies, Council remains firm on its commitment in the creation of a comfortable and safe environment for students and staff.

Council wishes to acknowledge the significant work done by all members of the UCT community in matters tabled above. Your efforts are noteworthy and bold, and you have demonstrated resilience in delivering results in these challenging time. Thank you for your commitment.

Council also reflected on the events of 18 April 2021 when the fire damaged many of our buildings. Council again expressed its gratitude for the fact that no lives were lost and that many staff members, students, donors and members of the wider community pulled together to face and overcome the challenges the fire presented. The resilience of the UCT community is clearly visible as we rebuild our campus.

As the country is experiencing a third wave of COVID-19 infections, I wish all members of the UCT community good health. May our community continue to support each other as we collectively battle the challenges. I wish to give a special thank you and appreciation to all our staff and colleagues who worked tirelessly to keep our campus safe.

I have no doubt that in time, we will overcome and emerge stronger as an institution.

With best wishes

Babalwa Ngonyama, CA (SA)
Chair of UCT Council

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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.


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
Chair of 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
Chair of 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.