1 October 2020
Dear UP Community
It has been, and continues to be, a difficult time living under the lockdown regulations and abiding by the hygiene and health protocols necessary to protect everyone’s well-being. It is disruptive. We live in times of uncertainty. I feel for all of you. It is the new unusual. A relaxation of the lockdown regulations is therefore always welcome. It allows us to do more with our lives. We must, however, continue to practise social distancing, washing of hands, observing cough and sneezing etiquette, and avoid unnecessary travelling to crowded spaces and places.
I would like to thank you for your continued commitment to the University of Pretoria. To the students who continue with their studies while battling the many challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, I applaud you for your resilience and passion. To the UP staff who are working diligently under trying circumstances in support of our students and your colleagues, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Congratulations to all students who have graduated during the Spring Graduation. I am proud of you, and I hope to see you when we are able to host traditional graduation ceremonies next year.
With the move to level 1 of the COVID-19 risk adjustment and as the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology said in his address to the media on 30 September 2020, it will be possible for a greater number of students and staff to return to campus. In light of this, I would like to provide the following guidelines, mindful of the fact that each faculty and department will communicate their detailed arrangements to students and staff. We must continue to strike the balance between normal activities and staying safe.
Teaching and learning
While more students and staff are allowed to return to campus, regulations still prohibit the gathering of large groups of people, and this makes it impossible to resume traditional lectures. Therefore, as mentioned in an earlier communication, online classes will remain the main mode of teaching and learning this semester, which ends on 13 November 2020.
As a reminder, the following students will be prioritised by their respective faculties to return to campus:
- Final-year and post-graduate students who require access to laboratories, technical equipment, studios and other facilities on campus in order to complete their courses;
- First-year and other students who are experiencing ongoing difficulties with internet connectivity and who do not have the necessary access to internet-enabled devices;
- First-year and other students whose home environments are not conducive to studying.
Examinations and assessments
In some instances, students who follow specific programmes or are in their final year of study might be required by their faculties to sit for examinations and assessments in person. Arrangements will be made with the students in advance so that they can make the necessary accommodation and transport arrangements.
Tuition and residence fees
I am pleased and thankful that we are on track to successfully complete the academic year. In view of this and owing to the additional expenses the University has incurred relating to online teaching and learning, as well as the purchase of laptops and data bundles for students, the Executive has decided that tuition fees will not be adjusted. It is important to remember that tuition fees cover the costs of the infrastructure that is provided for teaching and research and which requires maintenance.
It has been decided that 70% of the study material levy will be paid back into student accounts as the University did not incur most of the associated expenses.
Where students have been charged for specific items (lab coats, test kits, excursions, etc) which were not provided by the University, the students’ accounts will be credited (i.e. money paid back to the student). The same applies to meal fees, except in the case of NSFAS students who received their meal allowance while at home.
In terms of accommodation fees, a 30% adjustment in favour of the student will be made for the months where a student was not accommodated in residence. It is important to note that the University still incurred salary, maintenance and other upkeep costs during the lockdown, and therefore cannot reimburse the full amount. The full charge will be levied for the period a student was accommodated in residence.
In cases where students have been negatively affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic and feel constrained by their financial obligations, 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 the business of the University is resuming, a greater number of staff will be required to return to campus. This will be done in line with the health and safety protocols, and line managers will be communicating the arrangements with their colleagues.
I want to wish our students and staff well for the remainder of the year. We will do everything we can to support you, and 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 enhancing 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.
We are in the last stretch of the year, let us continue to do everything we can to see it through.
All the best.
Prof Tawana Kupe
Vice-Chancellor and Principal