Message to students from the Vice-Chancellor

Dear UP student

I trust you are keeping well. It’s been a while and I miss not being able to connect with you on campus. I am not underestimating that this unprecedented situation poses multiple challenges that require all of us to mobilise our sources of resilience and determination. You are all in my thoughts as we go through this together.

As we welcome some of you back to campus this week, I look forward to the day when we can all return and enjoy our campus again. Unfortunately, under the current level 3 of the lockdown regulations, only 33% of students are allowed back, and we are following government’s guidelines closely to determine who should be prioritised, while at the same time ensuring that the necessary precautions for your health and well-being are in place.

When you return to campus, please ensure that you adhere to the compulsory safety precautions, including accessing the HealthCheck self-screening tool, wearing a face mask, sanitising your hands regularly, and maintaining social distancing practices.   

Students returning to campus

Faculties prioritised students who, for a variety of reasons are, as part of their study programmes, required to be on campus to complete the academic year. These students would have received a letter from their faculties informing them of their eligibility to return. In keeping with the regulations, we’ve developed a process to identify those students who are finding it impossible to continue with online studies from their homes, so that they may return to the residences. These students would have received a letter from the Department of Residence Affairs and Accommodation after it had consulted with the faculties on who should return. The department has requested the owners of private and accredited accommodation to allow students back under the same rules as those in place at UP residences. These students will, however, only be allowed in the residences and cannot return to the campuses unless they form part of the maximum level of 33% of students who were notified by their faculties that they can return to their campus.

Data bundles

I’m pleased to announce that the University will be purchasing more data to assist students with their upcoming examinations, in addition to our efforts to provide more than 3 000 laptops and tablets to students who had no access to internet-enabled devices. This will further support students with their online studies.

Those students who require data must please look out for more information on how to apply by visiting clickUP and the University’s social media platforms. For students without access to the internet, we will continue to provide you with telephone tutoring and, if necessary, deliver study materials to you. Please continue to reach out to your lecturers if you need any assistance.  

Examinations

As we approach the examinations, the University has put a raft of interventions in place to support students. These interventions include online tutoring, telephone tutoring, online academic advising and mentoring, online and telephone counselling, and a fully staffed IT call centre. Furthermore, all academic and professional support staff have been requested to be particularly attentive to the needs of students during this period.

I’m keenly aware that the current situation can be stressful for students owing to the national lockdown. For this reason, the University’s Academic Planning Committee recently approved a series of alternative assessment plans submitted by faculties. While faculties have been encouraged to take the current unusual circumstances into account when setting assessments, they are also required to ensure that the high standards according to which the University normally functions are not compromised. There should never be any question about the quality of UP qualifications. We are committed to providing quality teaching and learning despite the circumstances.

Since different faculties are subject to different academic requirements as well as professional requirements, each one has put in place the necessary and appropriate measures for the different programmes to ensure that students are not disadvantaged by factors outside their control.

I want to wish you all well with your studies and assure you once again that your success is important. We will do everything we can to support you through this difficult time. We will continue to observe the appropriate regulations while at the same time ensuring the health and well-being of our community.

We care about your success. For help with boosting your health and emotional well-being, please reach out to the relevant support services; visit the UP website for contact details as well as regular updates.

Take care and good luck with the examinations.

Kind regards

Professor Tawana Kupe

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

Published by Hlengiwe Mnguni

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