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16 February 2021
DVC: Academic - Academic Plan for First Semester 2021

Dear Campus Community

The Senate Academic Planning Committee (SAP) took into account our experience in 2020 and the severity of the current second wave of the pandemic. The Senate Executive Committee (SEC) approved the recommendation of SAP that we remain online in the first semester of 2021.

In doing so, SEC also approved the Guiding Principles for Flexible Learning and Teaching Contingency Plan, 2021 as follows:

1. Term One will commence online from 8 March 2021, in a phased approach;

2. There will be a concerted endeavour to complete the 2021 academic year in 2021 for all students; 

3. Disparities among our students’ socio-economic backgrounds are acknowledged and efforts will be as inclusive as possible, with various ways of ensuring that the different categories of students, including students with disabilities, are catered for. The use of print media, PowerPoint presentations, flash drives, etc. will be explored;

4. A flexible learning and teaching approach which includes online platforms, but not restricted to these, will be adopted;

5. A varied and phased approach to assessments will be considered on a discipline-specific basis;

6. Academic rigour will be maintained at all times - a ‘pass one, pass all’ approach will not be acceptable;

7. The University will remain committed to making budgetary adjustments to ensure that plans are realised for learning and teaching to take place;

8. Faculties will provide remedial classes and offer opportunities to students who may have been prejudiced by a lack of resources, to catch up on lost work; and,

9. Every faculty and every lecturer will adopt an approach that is sensitive to and aligned with the Institution’s values.

In addition, SEC approved the amended UWC Guiding Principles on Assessment During the Covid-19 Pandemic: 2021:

Principle 1: No Exclusions
Where practically possible, no student with COVID-19 related issues will be excluded from any scheduled assessment during the course of a module, including final assessment, during the period of this crisis.

Principle 2: Without Prejudice
If students report that they were prejudiced due to lack of access to a learning-conducive environment, access to resources, and/or other reasonable circumstance related to COVID 19, then such students will be provided with additional assessment opportunities within a reasonable time.

Principle 3: 100% CA Modules
Modules that have 100% Continuous Assessment as its assessment type, should include higher weighted integrated assessments in their assessment schedules, which bring together different module outcomes. This principle should be read with principle 9.

Principle 4: CFA Modules
All modules that have CFA (Continuous and Final Assessment) as their assessment type may propose changes to the current ratio of continuous assessment (CA) to final assessment (FA), to SEC via SAP.

Principle 5: No Sit-down Exam
Except where otherwise required by accreditation bodies, no sit-down examination will be held for Semester 1 modules; these exams will be replaced with Summative Assessments (SA) that evaluate the achievement of core outcomes. The SAs submissions must be deployed and undertaken remotely and online by students.

Principle 6: Practical & Clinical Work
Practical assessments and clinical evaluations will be conducted in a phased approach, depending on the severity of the pandemic.

Principle 7: Credibility of Student Submissions
Final and summative assessment tasks, in particular, must be designed to ensure the authenticity and credibility of student submissions, namely, that the submission reflects the student’s own work, as far as is reasonably possible.

Principle 8: Change to Assessment Schedules
Changes to assessment schedules of modules must be submitted by lecturers to HoDs with the original schedules and the proposed new assessment schedules. The Faculty Academic Planning Committee must approve these changes and students must be notified of such changes by lecturers.

Principle 9: Flexibility of Assessments
As far as possible, the University will accommodate the need for flexibility regarding the scheduling of assessments, re-assessments and catch-up opportunities.

Principle 10: Internal & External Moderation
Assessment must be subject to normal internal and external moderation processes. For exit-level modules, assessments must be externally moderated, and all non-exit level modules must be moderated internally.

SEC decisions will be ratified at the first Senate meeting of 2021.

Given the severity of the pandemic, a decision on blended learning will be taken later in the first semester. We will be guided by the trajectory of the pandemic, which will require flexibility on our side.

CIECT has prepared online orientation for first-year, and senior students and details will be shared in due course.

The return-to-campus task team is working on a plan, given the decision to remain online, and details will be communicated separately on this matter.

We are aware that this situation is not ideal – learning does not only happen in the classroom but through interaction with peers and lecturers. A university is also about co-curricular programmes of which students are being deprived. But under these trying circumstances, our greatest priority is to ensure the safety of students and staff.

I thank our colleagues for their agility and people-centred approach during this trying time. May 2021 be filled with resilience and strength to ensure that we complete this academic year as best as we can.

 

Prof Vivienne Lawack
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic