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14 April 2020
From the Acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor: Academic Year Update

(Published - 14 April 2020)

Dear Campus Community

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) has devised a comprehensive plan to ensure that students are permitted to complete the 2020 academic year.

This is notwithstanding the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic remains unpredictable, and the situation locally and abroad remains extremely fluid.

While our contingencies follow a sectoral approach, as agreed on by all universities, we have adapted our approach to suit our unique circumstances.

The learning and teaching contingency plan is guided by the following principles:

  • Academic work will commence on 20th April 2020, in a phased approach;
  • There will be a concerted endeavour to complete the 2020 academic year for all students – there may be a possibility that the completion could extend into early 2021;
  • Disparities among our students’ socio-economic backgrounds are acknowledged. 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;
  • A flexible learning and teaching approach which includes online platforms, but is not restricted to these, will be adopted;
  • A varied and phased approach to assessments, depending on each discipline, will be considered;
  • Academic rigour will be maintained at all times - a ‘pass one, pass all’ approach will not be acceptable;
  • The University will remain committed to making budgetary adjustments to ensure that plans are realised for learning and teaching to take place; 
  • Faculties will provide remedial classes and offer opportunities to students who may have been prejudiced by a lack of resources, to catch up lost work; and,
  • Every faculty and every lecturer will adopt an approach that is sensitive to and aligned with the Institution’s values.

Term 2 and the rest of this semester will commence with flexible learning and teaching from 20th April 2020, bearing in mind that the University is keenly aware of the limitations some of our students face in terms of equipment and data. The University’s Executive Management is currently discussing a contingency plan in this regard and will communicate this with all stakeholders once there is confirmation.

I want to emphasise that no student will be left behind, and our plan includes a catch-up phase for students who have no resources at all during this period of lockdown.

In addition, all students will be permitted to complete assessments, and no student will be excluded in the 2020 academic year.

Please take heed of the following important dates for the rest of this semester:

I thank our staff and students for their resilience during this period of uncertainty. We are not immune to this pandemic and its impact, which means that plans may have to be revised should the situation change.

For now, students and staff are to remain at home until the University communicates that it is safe to return to campus. All staff are urged to continue working remotely, and staff and students are urged to keep abreast of further government announcements regarding the lockdown.

I urge you all to remain at home and to stay safe. Practice good hygiene as advised by our previous communications and only leave the house if it is absolutely necessary.

With best wishes

Prof Vivienne Lawack

Acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor