24 July 2020
By the time you read this, most of you would have finished your examinations and are taking a short and well-deserved break. While I know it must have been challenging under the current unusual circumstances, I trust it went well.
With our province currently one of the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and as we are still operating under level 3 of the lockdown measures for the foreseeable future, it is unlikely that you will be allowed to return to campus when we resume the second semester on 3 August 2020. For this reason, we have no other option but to continue with providing teaching and learning online, until the situation is clear. We must continue to make all efforts to save the academic year.
While not ideal, I’m pleased to say that we have made significant strides with our online offering and have assisted a great number of you who needed support. This includes providing those students in need with free data, Internet-enabled devices and telephone and online and telephonic tutoring. With the move to lockdown level 3, we have managed to bring some students without Internet access back to campus as a result of the 33% restrictions stipulated in the regulations. We will continue to provide support and assistance to ensure that no student is disadvantaged as we start the second semester. It is important to ensure that we complete the 2020 academic year successfully. Therefore, if you need any support, please do not hesitate to reach out to your lecturers, faculties or the different student support services and the Student Representative Council.
As mentioned previously, we are aware of the financial challenges facing students and their parents or sponsors as a result of COVID-19. The provision of online classes brings its own challenges, including incurring additional unplanned expenses.
The University provides accommodation, some of which is leased, to almost 10 000 students. The University has paid all lease rentals in the case of private accredited accommodation during the lockdown period. An agreement will soon be signed with leased property providers to accommodate our students during the December 2020 and January 2021 period.
We have already announced the extension of the payment of student accounts to end September. If students have been financially impaired by the COVID-19 pandemic and they feel constrained by the financial burden, we suggest that they contact the University by sending an email to [email protected] to make financial arrangements. We will do everything we can to support you.
As soon as negotiations with service providers have been finalised and the University has clear timeframes regarding the conclusion of the 2020 academic calendar, a decision on fee rebates will be taken. Sectoral agreements regarding rebates will be taken into consideration.
I want to wish you well with the start of the second semester and assure you that we are here to do everything we can to support you and ensure your success.
Prof Tawana Kupe
Vice-Chancellor and Principal