You can read the COVID-19 protocols for student exams. This protocol document is housed on the Exams website along with all other information related to exams at UCT.
Faculty of Commerce
Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment
Faculty of Health Sciences
Faculty of Humanities
Faculty of Law
Faculty of Science
Graduate School of Business
(Updated 16 October) UCT will begin the 2021 academic year on 15 March 2021.
Classes for the 2021 academic year will begin on 15 March 2021. Please note that the 2021 academic calendar is subject to change, depending on the extent of COVID-19.
(Updated 11 December) Our hybrid teaching and learning and research environment will use a combination of online activities, which you can access at any time, and activities that will require students to attend sessions based on a specific schedule. There will also be face-to-face teaching of small groups in COVID-compliant venues under physically distanced learning conditions; and physically distanced research activities will take place in low-density labs, studios and workshops. These will operate according to a schedule and on a rotation basis, to reduce the number of people in each space at any time
(Updated 11 December) All undergraduate UCT students who are resident in South Africa, and all international students who can return to South Africa, are expected to be in Cape Town for the start of the academic year on 15 March 2021. (Students in the Faculty of Health Sciences will need to be here earlier.)
During the first semester of 2021, UCT will offer all undergraduate courses in a physically distanced learning (PDL) mode. In practice this means:
(Updated 11 December) Students’ workloads will go back to the pre-COVID demand of 45 hours per week. Special accommodation might be made at the discretion of the faculty when it is considered necessary.
All academic rules will be operating as per normal. Faculty Examinations Committees and Readmissions Appeal Committees will be duly constituted.
All courses will be assessed as required by departments. Results will be shown as grades and will contribute to the calculation of grade point averages from course level 1000 to exit level courses.
(Updated 22 June 2021) Sessions that involve physical contact, whether in a laboratory, studio, tutorial or final-year lectures, will be held under strict health protocols. Students and staff members not wearing masks will not be allowed into a venue.
From 19 April to 24 December 2021, UCT will make available study spaces for students not living in residences, but whose internet connectivity and/or studying conditions are negatively impacted by structural and systemic inequality. These spaces will operate from 08:00 to 20:00 (Monday to Friday) and will be monitored by marshals, who are trained senior students reporting to the Department of Student Affairs.
A full assessment of laboratories for social distancing, air conditioning and ventilation, as well as layout to maximise capacity, has resulted in a decision to open some faculty laboratories. These will operate at 50% capacity for face-to-face teaching, while others have made laboratory computers accessible remotely. To help students plan, Information and Communication Technology Services has a dedicated webpage detailing laboratory availability.
Student Housing will open their computer labs for use from 16 April. Lab assistants have received COVID-19 marshal training; areas in the labs have been demarcated; and the necessary personal protective equipment has been supplied.
The virtual library will be open Monday to Friday from 08:30 to 17:00. Opening hours of physical libraries vary across campuses, so please check the schedule here. Students may access the UCT Libraries resources via the Libraries website and a dedicated Virtual Library Support page.
(Updated 11 December) We will communicate the details of courses, timetables and venues when they have been finalised, soon after the beginning of 2021. The details of your specific courses will be communicated to you through your faculty.
Special communication about enrolment and registration for the academic year 2021 will be sent by the Office of the Registrar.
(Updated 11 December) New students can register online using an abbreviated memorandum of understanding (MoU) and then completing a detailed MoU to be submitted by a set deadline. Returning students will complete their MoUs and progress planned activities online, preferably before the end of December 2020, to allow for quicker registration in 2021.
International postgraduate students should contact the International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO) for access to online services such as international student clearance (pre-registration) and support for their return to Cape Town to complete their studies.
(Updated 11 December) While we hope to return to more on-campus activities in the second semester, we have planned the postgraduate year around the possibility of a continuing pandemic.
The great diversity of UCT postgraduate programmes offers potential for a wide range of teaching and learning modes, so programme convenors will work with heads of departments (HoDs), with the support of their deans, on the best mode for individual programmes. These may include running in a fully online mode; a hybrid mode; physically distanced learning (PDL) mode and a face-to-face mode.
The mode of operation will depend on the nature of the programme, its most appropriate teaching modality, the number of students in the programme and the availability of venues.
By the end of 2020, students who are either currently registered or have been accepted to start postgraduate degrees should be notified on both the mode of delivery and whether they need to be in Cape Town.
The Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) continues to provide substantial support to academics in the design of teaching modalities. All courses will be assessed by programme convenors, departments and their respective faculties. The assessment method will be communicated to the students clearly and in good time. External examinations will take place in courses according to Senate policy, introducing remote oral defences, interviews or presentations as required. Examination and grading of research reports, assignments, dissertations and theses will follow UCT’s standard assessment procedures.
(Updated 11 December) Laboratory, studio, seminar and group work will run on a roster basis, to help maintain physical distancing. All other health protocols associated with COVID-19 must be followed at all times. Fieldwork and internships will be set up to comply with both the needs of the programme and health protocols. Guidelines for fieldwork under COVID-19 conditions are available and require sign-off by HODs.
(Updated 11 December) During the second semester of 2020, we ensured that postgraduate research students who required research facilities on campus or in the field would have access to them. Meanwhile, research students who did not require access to physical facilities on campus continued to work remotely. We plan to continue to operate in this manner in 2021.
Any postgraduate research student who requires access to on-campus facilities such as studios, workshops, computer labs, laboratories and other resources, but has not yet received an invitation to use them, needs to request such an invitation from their supervisor or head of department.
Activities such as research support and supervision, lab and studio instruction, seminars and discussion groups will take place in either online, hybrid or face-to-face modes, to be decided at a department level on a case-by-case basis. Guidelines drawn up for fieldwork under COVID-19 conditions must be followed. Departments, or in some cases large research groups, are responsible for the organisation and communication of health and safety protocols to their students.
(Updated 11 December) Tutors played a key role in supporting the emergency remote teaching effort in 2020, particularly at undergraduate level. Many tutors are postgraduate students who benefit from the learning opportunity as well as earning a stipend. Postgraduate students for research-based degrees who want to take up these opportunities need to consult with their supervisors to ensure that they will be able to complete their research milestones. They must also ensure that the time they spend on tutoring is within the restrictions set by their postgraduate funding.
Two types of tutor training are needed: general training, such as digital literacy or online facilitation, can be provided by the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED), following discussion with postgraduate students’ respective faculties and departments; while tutor training that is specific to a discipline or faculty is provided by the respective faculties at their discretion.
(Updated 11 December) Residences space will be allocated according to the existing policy, which gives priority to minors, first-year students and financial-aid students. There will be no shared accommodation for at least the first semester of 2021. Physical distancing and health protocols will be applied, and students in residence accommodation will need to sign a commitment of adherence to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Please contact the International Academic Programmes Office at UCT for information to assist international students.
(Updated 16 October) International students who are not currently in South Africa need to confirm the entry criteria. South Africa’s borders were partially reopened from 1 October 2020. The Department of Home Affairs has indicated that if you are a student who travelled home at the start of lockdown, you can approach the South African embassy in your home country to validate your visa. The embassy validation is a requirement before you can travel, as it effectively reinstates your visa.
On 30 September 2020, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande, announced that South Africa’s move to lockdown Level 1 meant that international students who are currently outside South Africa’s borders may now return to their respective campuses. However, he pointed out that this is subject to any restrictions linked to each university’s own risk assessment and phased return, due to local context and conditions.
International students may only return to UCT if they have received a letter of invitation and a letter of authority to do so.
International students who are currently outside South Africa will need to meet the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs regulations and produce a document verifying that they have been tested within 72 hours, showing that they are negative for COVID-19 on arrival in South Africa. If they cannot, they will need to go into quarantine at their own expense for at least 10 days before proceeding to their respective institutions. International travellers must have travel insurance to cover the COVID-19 test and quarantine costs. All these travellers will be subjected to COVID-19 screening on arrival at UCT.
(Updated 20 July) All students on financial aid will receive their allowances towards the end of each month. If you have not received your allowance or have any queries regarding allowances, please email email@example.com or phone the office at 021 650 3545.
(Updated 13 April 2021) Although UCT’s Postgraduate Funding Office is working hard to ensure that postgraduate bursaries and scholarships continue uninterrupted, the Department of Higher Education and Training and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) have announced a reduction in the number of programmes eligible for NSFAS funding.
Affected programmes at UCT are the Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting (PGDA), Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), and the post-degree law programme (LAWP01/2).
UCT has decided to utilise part of the UCT Council-approved funding of R30 million, along with donations received, to support qualifying students in these programmes who are now excluded from funding. This once-off emergency assistance will apply to students who received financial aid or GAP funding last year, and who are not repeating the programme in 2021. These students will therefore receive the same level of financial support as in 2020.
Registered PGCE, PGDA and LAWP01/2 students who applied to NSFAS for the first time in 2021 cannot be assisted at present, but UCT will continue trying to source sponsorship for these programmes and will keep students updated.
(Updated 30 March) Please contact the Student Financial Aid Office to discuss your fee status.
(Updated 25 August) UCT has taken various wide-ranging steps to enable students across South Africa to study online. UCT has loaned and delivered laptops to eligible students on the basis of responses to the April 2020 student survey. It has also provided prepaid data to all students who have valid South African cellphone numbers recorded on PeopleSoft.
The four main network providers have zero-rated access to specific UCT sites. A dedicated webpage has been created on the ICTS website that will be updated regularly when additional sites are zero-rated.
Contact the ICTS helpdesk on www.icts.uct.ac.za or 021 650 4500 (Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 16:30 or Thursdays from 08:30 to 15:15).
(Updated 11 May) UCT has set up a system to distribute printed learning materials and USB drives with lecture recordings for students who cannot access the internet in any form. The delivery of distance learning materials began on 11 May. We have assembled a working group and are using the COVID-19 UCT Emergency Fund to support this project. All faculties are monitoring their students and making contact with those who, for whatever reason, cannot cope with online learning.
(Updated 20 July) Laptops have been distributed to students based on certain criteria and special conditions. The overarching criterion is financial need. To make it possible to allocate these laptops, UCT has had to cross-check information from Student Financial Aid, the Postgraduate Funding Office and the faculties with the responses received from you in the Student Access Survey.
If you haven’t yet received a laptop after you requested it via the survey, please contact ICTS via firstname.lastname@example.org.
The laptops are allocated only to students in these categories:
The laptops will be loans – not donations – and they must be returned to UCT at the end of the 2020 academic programme. If the laptop is returned at the end of the 2020 academic programme, there will be no cost to the student. The laptops will be issued to students at a cost of R4 150, which will serve as a deposit, to be charged to the student’s fee account. This charge will be reversed once the laptop is returned after the completion of the 2020 academic programme.
(Updated 20 July) UCT is providing prepaid data to all students who have valid South African cellphone numbers recorded on PeopleSoft. If you have not received data from UCT, please first make sure your cellphone number and other contact details, such as your address, are correct on your PeopleSoft profile. Then contact the ICTS helpdesk on www.icts.uct.ac.za or 021 650 4500 (Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 16:30 or Thursdays from 08.30 to 15:15).
UCT has signed deals with the four major South African cellular network providers – Cell C, MTN, Telkom and Vodacom – to provide data bundles. These deals will be renewed on a monthly basis. The renewal date of each bundle will depend on the initial provision date. All bundles consist of 20 GB “night-time” data along with “anytime” data totalling either 10 GB (for Cell C, MTN and Vodacom users) or 20 GB (for Telkom users).
(Updated 27 April) Please contact your faculty advisor or department via Vula if you have any questions about online learning, receiving printed learning materials and USB drives, or other study needs during this time. For technical questions you can also contact the Information and Communication Technology Services (ICTS) Helpdesk by emailing email@example.com or phoning 021 650 4500 during office hours.
(Updated 20 April) There will be no academic exclusions during 2020. UCT recognises the anxiety caused by the impact that the academic year timeline adjustments will have on National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding, and we are engaging with NSFAS about this.
(Updated 21 April) The university conducted a survey to determine students’ available resources for remote learning. We are grateful for responses from most of our students. Of the 90.4% students who had completed the survey by 15 April, 89.5% had access to a laptop/desktop computer, while 1.3% had no device. UCT has arranged for door-to-door delivery of laptops to eligible students. A total of 91.4% of UCT students have internet access. The university is taking steps to try to support the 8.6% of students who don’t have internet access, in addition to other measures already put in place.
(Updated 20 April 2020) All faculties will communicate directly with students in relation to practical work such as laboratory work, fieldwork, studio sessions and specific courses. Special plans for courses such as dance, music, fine art and theatre will be made in the new academic calendar to accommodate the needs for contact teaching. The Faculty of Health Sciences will use the online option while it is working on the necessary adjustments to clinical training. This will be communicated directly to students.
(Updated 3 May) The four major South African cellular network providers (Cell C, MTN, Telkom and Vodacom) have agreed to zero-rate certain important UCT sites and systems for their respective users, which means that they will not consume data from their data bundles. The list of zero-rated sites is different for each service provider. ICTS provides the full list of zero-rated sites offered by each cellular network provider, as well as the structure of data bundles available to students.
(Updated 3 May) UCT has been establishing whether students with disabilities have access to technology and software programmes to ensure “equitable access” to online learning. Hard-of-hearing students using South African Sign Language interpreters will use WhatsApp video for interactions and, if data allows, Zoom conferencing to access sign interpretation. Visually impaired students have access to the Job Access With Speech (JAWS) programme on their computers for ease of learning.
Students with mental health conditions are receiving ongoing support in the form of extra time applications and verified accommodation letters, and carers and psychologists continue to liaise with students who require mental health support during this time.
(Updated 3 May) The UCT Call Centre and Referral System (CARES) is a new support tool being developed by the Academic Advising Project at the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED) to provide students with a central connection to UCT’s greater support network. If you are not sure about where to get help, or just need general information, you can direct your query to firstname.lastname@example.org. Student queries will either be responded to immediately or referred to the relevant contact for follow-up. We will soon be launching an SMS query line as well.
(Updated 26 August) Students can reach out to UCT’s Student Wellness Service (SWS), which offers online and telephonic counselling and support.
The UCT Student Care Line continues to provide 24-hour telephonic counselling on 0800 24 25 26 (free from a Telkom line) or SMS 31393 for a callback.
SWS bookings can be made online, via email or on the UCT mobile app.
Counselling: Students can continue to access their therapists for counselling via telephone or Skype. Sessions can be booked as usual, either online or via email. Students can book with any of the counsellors on the SWS booking site – they don’t have to book with their usual faculty counsellor.
Medical advisory: Students can seek medical advice by calling SWS on 021 650 5620. Please note: these calls are not consultations. Students can also book a request online for a consultation with the Clinical Nurse Practitioner, who will call back at the appointed time.
Referral letters to other facilities and external services will be provided upon receipt of an emailed request.
Peer counselling support: Peer-counsellors from SWS will offer counselling and public awareness programmes from 12:00 to 17:00 from Monday to Saturday. Peer support is also available via telephonic contact, Skype, Zoom and email. Appointments can be arranged via direct messenger or the SWS website.
To continue supporting survivors of sexual assault, UCT’s Office for Inclusivity & Change (OIC) is running a weekly online Survivor Support Group (SSG). The OIC’s specialist wellness counsellor and survivor support officer, Yumna Seadat, runs the SSGs, which take place every Tuesday from 17:30 to 19:30. These SSGs will continue online until all staff and students have returned to campus.
To join an online SSG, potential participants should contact Seadat via email at Yumna.Seadat@uct.ac.za to arrange an initial one-on-one meeting, when Seadat will discuss confidentiality, anonymity and how to gain access to the online SSG via Microsoft Teams.
UCT Student Wellness Service
(Updated 18 May) Provision will be made for students to catch up with their studies through blended learning, which combines online lectures and face-to-face tutorials, once the university is able to reopen. The academic calendar will be adjusted so that students are not prejudiced in terms of the length of their studies and their funding.
To mitigate students’ anxieties, the university has acknowledged that most students will only be able to learn remotely for 30 hours per week and has adjusted the academic calendar to accommodate this. Most courses will use a continual assessment model.
For more information and contacts specific to research, please refer to the COVID-19 FAQs for researchers on the Research Support Hub.
(Updated 26 August) UCT’s Postgraduate Funding Office is working hard to ensure that postgraduate bursaries and scholarships continue to be paid and applications for new and renewed funding are processed.
(Updated 2 April) Access to both laptops and data is a challenge for many of our postgraduates. There is a plan in place to distribute laptops to a limited group of students in need. The criteria for this and how it will take place is discussed in the DVC Desk of 1 April 2020 titled, “Important: Student access survey and conditions for receiving a loan laptop”. Please complete the Student Access Survey on your needs for working remotely, which will enable us to understand the overall status of your connectivity. The survey will help us prioritise and allocate laptops according to greatest need.
Work is in progress at a national level with telecommunication companies to get students and postgraduates access to South African-hosted websites, including all educational sites, for as long as they are unable to work on campus. This is still under discussion.
(Updated 2 April) Such an agreement is unlikely to provide our researchers with the facilities needed for data-intensive research, for which a different plan will have to be made. We encourage researchers to use UCT’s virtual private network (VPN) where possible to access and operate systems on campus, all of which are running. Data transfer can then be managed in the normal way using the underlying systems via the access granted by the VPN.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Please view the republishing articles page for more information.
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.
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.
Getting credible, evidence-based, accessible information and recommendations relating to COVID-19
The Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital, are producing educational video material for use on digital platforms and in multiple languages. The information contained in these videos is authenticated and endorsed by the team of experts based in the Department of Medicine. Many of the recommendations are based on current best evidence and are aligned to provincial, national and international guidelines. For more information on UCT’s Department of Medicine, please visit the website.
To watch more videos like these, visit the Department of Medicine’s YouTube channel.
As the COVID-19 crisis drags on and evolves, civil society groups are responding to growing and diversifying needs – just when access to resources is becoming more insecure, writes UCT’s Prof Ralph Hamann.03 Jul 2020 - 6 min read Republished
The Covid-19 crisis has reinforced the global consequences of fragmented, inadequate and inequitable healthcare systems and the damage caused by hesitant and poorly communicated responses.24 Jun 2020 - >10 min read Opinion
Our scientists must not practise in isolation, but be encouraged to be creative and increase our knowledge of the needs of developing economies, write Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, vice-chancellor of UCT, and Professor Thokozani Majozi from the University of the Witwatersrand.09 Jun 2020 - 6 min read Republished
South Africa has been recognised globally for its success in flattening the curve, which came as a result of President Ramaphosa responding quickly to the crisis, writes Prof Alan Hirsch.28 Apr 2020 - 6 min read Republished
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.