Plans and resources for postgraduate students in 2022

09 February 2022 | Professor Sue Harrison

Dear UCT postgraduates and supervisors

It is a great pleasure to welcome you back to the University of Cape Town (UCT). I would like to take this opportunity to wish you much success and fulfilment through the 2022 academic year, particularly as we work determinedly to return our campus to a fully interactive space and experience.

Our postgraduates are a critical part of the UCT research community. You represent the future generation of researchers, leaders and experts at this institution and in our wider country and continent. Enabling you to complete your degree in good time is a top priority for us. We remain committed to working with supervisors and programme conveners to support our postgraduate community and to build the UCT postgraduate experience to deliver on UCT’s Vision 2030.

This first DVC Desk of 2022 provides an opportunity to highlight key aspects of being a postgraduate student this year, along with resources that will assist your journey during this academic year:


How postgraduate studies will be run in 2022

There is no a one-size-fits-all approach to running postgraduate studies at a research-intensive university at any time, let alone through the progression of a pandemic. The diverse coursework requirements, type of equipment used (if any), focus on research, degree of hands-on supervision, role of field work and so on, varies according to the discipline, the programme objectives and the nature of study. This means tailoring delivery delivery or outputs for each programme is critical.

In light of this, we are pleased to note the relaxing of a number of the COVID-19 health regulations that will allow us to run substantial components of our postgraduate activity on campus in 2022. This will give the majority of our postgraduate students, other than those registered for programmes designed as online programmes, the opportunity to enjoy aspects of face-to-face engagement within their programmes. For those of you whose programmes depend on the labs, studios, theatres and workshops, this was also the case in 2021. We look forward to this face-to-face engagement between our postgraduate students and our academic, technical and administrative support staff in 2022. We recognise the importance of this active engagement, the ability to debate, to present ideas, take part in seminars, be in the field, and thus to benefit more fully from postgraduate study.

To plan this way and ensure robust delivery of all our programmes, we acknowledge the need to take a flexible approach, matching engagement approaches to the nature of each programme, and be agile in our ability to respond to individual illness and potential further COVID-19 waves. To achieve this, good communication is essential.

In running our programmes in this way, the normal academic rules will apply to manage situations where students are unable to return to campus or are absent from compulsory activities owing to illness.

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Communication on your programme from your faculty and department

Owing to the many different postgraduate programmes at UCT and the different ways we run them to provide the best experience for each discipline, communication on your specific programme will come directly from your department, supported by your faculty. If you have not received all the information you need yet on your programme for this year, communication from your individual departments and/or faculties is forthcoming soon.

You can also contact the relevant postgraduate administrator associated with your host department.

NOTE: Keep in mind that official communication from UCT will always be sent to your myUCT inbox. If you are unlikely to check this inbox regularly, it would be a good idea to automatically forward all the emails from your UCT inbox to the mailbox that gets your frequent attention.

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Online registration

Online registration of postgraduate students is well underway since it opened on 3 January. About 3 500 postgraduate students have embarked on the registration and MoU / PPA process with over 1 600 complete for registration.

Each faculty has a different process for postgraduate registration, so make sure you click on the faculty that is associated with the postgraduate degree for which you intend to register. If you have any questions about this, please contact the designated postgraduate administrators in your faculty.

New master’s and doctoral students: If you are registering for a dissertation or thesis you will be asked to submit a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU is an agreement established between you and your supervisor and it sets the stage for the year ahead.

Need help? You can access an online guide to assist you with completing the online Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which can be accessed via Vula.

Returning students: if you are re-registering for the dissertation component in a second or subsequent year, you do not complete the MOU. Instead, you must complete the online progress and planned activity (PPA) form via the PeopleSoft Student Administration

  • Need help? You can access an online guide to assist you with completing the online PPA form which can be accessed via Vula.

New and returning postgraduates: Once your online Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) or online progress and planned activity form has been approved, you will be required to complete your online registration via the PeopleSoft Student Administration System

Need help? To help our postgraduates and associated staff navigate the online MOU/PPA submission process a helpline has been set up. Contact the helpline: 021 650 5227 or email: sss-helpdesk@uct.ac.za. The helpline is open from 09:00 to 22:00 on Monday to Friday, and from 10:00 to 13:00 on Saturdays.

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Six-month fee waiver for postgraduates whose research was been delayed by the lockdown in 2020

The UCT Council has approved a concession in the form of a six-month fee waiver for master’s and PhD students whose completion has been delayed because of the lockdown. As this waiver is effective in the final six months of your degree, this will continue to apply to a number of postgraduate students in 2022. All applications will need to be motivated by both the student and their supervisor.

To apply, follow this 6-step procedure.

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Managing your data costs

For those of you who do not have access to a regular study and research space on campus and also to the free Wi-Fi on campus, refer to the remote tools webpage for an overview of all the remote resources that are available to UCT staff and students.

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Access to UCT facilities

Your departments will indicate whether you will be using facilities on campus (such as studios, labs, workshops and teaching venues) and your required presence on campus – mostly we have planned in general for our postgraduate students to be on campus for some, if not all, their activities unless the programme was designed as an online programme. We have ensured that all venues have appropriate ventilation. All health protocols, such as compulsory wearing of masks, sanitation, are in place and mandatory to ensure that we fight the pandemic together.

The UCT Libraries are fully operational, functioning with both on-site and virtual facilities, as well as providing study and research facilities in the Knowledge Commons and Research Commons.

We are also providing study spaces for work on campus in specific buildings – we are in discussion on providing further such spaces well-suited for specific nature of the postgraduate programmes hosted.

Under the current national state of disaster regulations, UCT will continue to provide data to students who are not in residence and did not select the opt-out option in PeopleSoft in 2021.

Allocation of UCT laptops: All first-time entering students (including postgraduates) are eligible to receive a laptop from UCT at a cost. This is due to laptops being a mandatory requirement to study at UCT. You will have the opportunity to opt-in while completing your registration declaration. The UCT laptop terms and conditions are also included in the registration declaration process.

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Key information for our international students

We have been communicating actively with the South African Government’s Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to ensure that we have the most up-to-date information on visas, travel and the pandemic; and to intercede with them to expedite visa applications for international students expecting to register at UCT in February.

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) continues to release updates on regulations and concessions that impact students’ ability to register. For instance, international students currently in South Africa with a receipt from VFS for renewal of a visa can now use the receipt in lieu of the visa to pre-register with UCT’s International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO).

A summary of regulations and concessions granted by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is available on the IAPO COVID-19 visa and registration FAQ.

Pre-registration and registration can be done both from your home country or in Cape Town, provided that you meet the specific documented requirements. For more information on pre-registration, consult the student guide.

More information on pre-registration can be found in the pre-registration FAQ. The current turnaround time for processing pre-registration requests is up to five working days for applications with complete information provided – IAPO’s target is three days.

Please note that payments from international banks can take up to 10 days to clear, so the sooner these are made by international students, the better – this will avoid delays in fees-based clearance. Please consider using the online credit card payments facility, as it links directly to your student fee account in PeopleSoft.

South Africa’s borders are open to incoming travellers who have valid long-term visas for study, work, academic research, and permanent residence. As mentioned above, if your programme requires you to be in Cape Town and access campus but you are unable to travel, it is important that you communicate with your programme convenor to work out the best route forward.

The International Office conducted a survey to determine which students are experiencing challenges with their visa application, which could result in their late arrival to South Africa and possible late registration.

If you are in this situation, it is important that you

  1. Submit your immigration and fees service requests for pre-registration and use the ‘comments’ to update us on progress with your visa application;
  2. For those who completed the survey, monitor your email for further advice on the next steps to take.

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Online resources

This is an overview of some of the online resources available to postgraduate students:

  • UCT Postgrad Hub: This website is a one-stop shop for prospective and current postgraduates at UCT, so do familiarise yourself with it.
  • Data-free welcome video series: We are busy working on the next series of welcome videos which will be made available on the data-free OpenUCT platform. They will be released in the next few weeks. Keep an eye on the Postgrad Hub.
  • @UCTpostgrads: Follow this Twitter account for scholarships, fellowships, mental health tips and answers to your questions (from Monday to Friday).
  • Postgraduate Events Calendar: From writing workshops to wellness webinars, we offer a variety of virtual resources to help postgrads navigate their research journeys. Check out our events calendar. (The calendar is also on the Postgrad Hub.)
  • Student Systems Support Helpdesk: If you’re struggling to navigate the online student administration system, PeopleSoft, then please email the Student Support Helpdesk: mailto:sss-helpdesk@uct.ac.za or contact them on 021 650 5227.
  • UCT_CARES Chatbot on WhatsApp: The chatbot will answer your questions via a drop‑down menu and respond to typed questions. As this is a learning bot, the service will be able to answer more questions over time. To connect to the UCT_CARES Chatbot, follow these steps: 1) Add the number +27 87 240 6965 to your contact list on WhatsApp, 2) Type “Hi” and the chatbot will start interacting with you.
  • Tech & Computing Support: As a student at UCT, you can access a wide range of information and communication technology services to support your academic endeavours. Check out Information and Communication Technology Services (ICTS) Guide for Students.
  • Postgrad Funding: While the deadlines for most of the scholarships and bursary opportunities to fund your studies this year have already passed, new opportunities will be advertised on the online noticeboard and @UCTpostgrads. If you have been awarded a bursary or scholarship, the Postgraduate Funding Office will email you directly about the process involved in claiming these funds.
  • Psychological & emotional support: Completing a postgraduate degree is hard; completing one during a global pandemic can make it feel even harder.
    • If you need support, you can book an appointment online with a Student Wellness counsellor, psychologist or social worker through the student wellness service or you can call Student Wellness reception at 021 650 1017 or 021 650 1020. For more information, check out counselling services at Student Wellness Service.
    • For students in distress or needing immediate help, please contact the UCT Student Careline by calling 0800 24 25 26 (free from a Telkom line) or send an SMS to 31393 for a callback service. It offers 24/7 telephonic counselling, advice, referral facilities and general support to anyone facing any mental health challenges.
  • Online resources for your research: UCT Libraries have created useful resources for every subject area. Check out your subject guide.
  • Writing Support: You can access a variety of writing support services and resources throughout your postgraduate degree journey. Read more information about all these services.

I wish you well for a successful and productive start of the new academic year.

Warm regards

Professor Sue Harrison
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation


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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

 
2022

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.

 

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