Dear undergraduate students
Welcome to the 2022 academic year. This year will mark a transition towards new ways of teaching and learning at the University of Cape Town (UCT). This is based on our experiences and lessons learnt during the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The primary and secondary schooling sector has now returned to full daily attendance. This decision was made and gazetted by the Department of Basic Education under which the basic schooling system falls. In the case of higher education, the Department of Higher Education and Training, which is our government line department, has not yet changed the regulations governing the operations of universities.
Despite this, UCT has secured permission to start a pilot programme that allows us to reduce the required social distance between individuals while keeping the obligation to wear masks and the systematic use of sanitisers and cleaning of venues in place.
As a result of this, we have been able to increase considerably our ability to use the university teaching space with appropriate ways of teaching in each course. Faculties and the university support services have been working hard to produce a timetable that allows the maximum possible utilisation of space and time for teaching purposes. This has now been finalised. Faculties will communicate details to their students.
The success of this year depends on a variety of critical factors, including the extent of your engagement with your learning. The university is fully invested in re-establishing the rhythm of academic life on campus; your own contribution to this process is very necessary. It is very important for students to attend contact sessions on campus and these sessions can be made obligatory by the course convenors.
The past two years, as part of our commitment to access for all, we offered mostly recorded lectures and, sometimes, academics uploaded recorded lectures from prior years as extra material. This year we have the opportunity for synchronous teaching while those same lectures can be recorded for further reference. This, combined with a variety of educational experiences appropriate to each programme, will give you an engaged student learning experience.
Some students are coming back to the university with a Faculty Examination Committee Readmitted (FECR) status on their academic record. This means that you have been allowed to return to study despite not having met all the academic requirements. We have designed a special programme to support you to improve your marks and the quality of your learning. Attending the programme is a necessity to ensure that there are no further delays in your progression towards graduation. Details of the programme will be announced before the commencement of the academic year.
The type of assessment used in each course is the course convenor’s decision. However, all examinations and tests will take place face-to-face in campus venues. Online exams will only take place should there be a need for heightened lockdown measures to be imposed again.
There are a number of venues available as study spaces and UCT Libraries are fully operational and ready to receive you. The list of available venues will also be published separately.
Please remember that all our activities on campus require that you wear a mask and respect all other health and safety regulations. We need to take care of each other by following these rules. The university is operating with the understanding that we are a self-regulated community. Your lecturers and tutors have the authority to ask you to wear masks; not to allow students in class unless they wear a mask; and to ask students who refuse to wear masks to leave the classroom. The best way of going about this is to agree together on ground rules, especially in terms of circumstances under which staff and students can take off their masks in class.
I do hope that you enjoy and make the most of this progressive return to campus. I am certainly looking forward to a buzzing campus environment and to the reconstitution of the community of students and scholars where we can take care of you personally.
Associate Professor Lis Lange
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning
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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 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.
“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.
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.
“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.