What the new term at UCT will look like

27 March 2020 | DVC A/Prof Lis Lange

Dear students

Greetings. I hope you are well and taking care of yourselves. As we now move into the countrywide lockdown for 21 days, as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, we have a better view of how the academic calendar will change at the University of Cape Town (UCT), when the term will restart, and how teaching and learning will take place.

Our plan is set out below, in the hope that this will answer some of your questions. Some specific dates might still change, depending on the COVID-19 situation, but this will give you some idea of what the new term will look like.

Term 2 (week 6-12 of the first semester) will start on 20 April. It will be scheduled as follows:

  • 20-24 April: Student orientation: How to learn online
  • 27 April: First week of Term 2 teaching starts.

Things that you need to know to put your mind at rest:

  • There will be no formal invigilated exams at the end of the semester.
  • Instead, assessment will be continuous during the term and you will need to obtain duly performed (DP) credit in your courses.
  • You will find details about the assessments and the DP requirements of your courses in their respective Vula sites before classes resume.
  • The courses you take online will be graded as PASS or FAIL (no marks will be assigned). This will not hurt your chances of getting a distinction when you graduate.

Learning online is very different from learning face-to-face. Because of this, we are preparing a guide for you that we will use during the Student Orientation (20–24 April). It will help you understand how you need to work to succeed in your courses.

Important for you to know:

  • You are not expected to carry the same workload online that you would have had face-to-face. We will provide the detail of this within the next week.
  • You will not have to sit in front of your computer at the time of your lectures. You will be able to access and download your lectures; to listen to or watch them as often as you need to; and then do your assignments in your own time.
  • We understand that for some of you, studying away from the university will be intimidating and you will need more support. You can get this support by staying in touch with your course convenors and tutors in the numbers provided in Vula.
  • For those of you whose courses require practical work or field work, this part of your courses will be done on campus once we reopen and the situation has stabilized.
  • We are developing support for you in the form of tutors and consultation times with your lecturers using Vula, WhatsApp and SMS. Contact details will be given to you in each course.
  • We know that some students did not receive laptop computers. We have identified those students and once the lockdown is finished (on 17 April), we will start distributing laptops to them. We have contracted a company that will deliver the computers to you wherever you are.
  • We are working to ensure that you have the necessary data to access your courses online. The detail of this will also be available next week. Please note that all communication will come to you from official UCT platforms.

To serve you better, we need to know what your needs are. Next week we will send out a survey about devices, connectivity and workspace. The survey will be sent via email and SMS. Please respond to it. It is very important that your course convenors know where you are, how you are working and what you need.

This is the second message I have sent to you on this topic. You can review the first message online if you missed it for any reason.

Next week, when there is more clarity about other elements of our programme, I will write again.

In the meantime, take care of yourselves and be assured that we are here to support you.

Warm regards,

Associate Professor Lis Lange
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning

Updates will be posted on UCT’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 feature page on the UCT News website.

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Coronavirus Disease 2019 updates

COVID-19 is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March and implement a national lockdown from 26 March.

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.

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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.