The university has ensured that all students are equipped to study online with laptops and data bundles.
Universities have said that the academic year will continue, despite the limitations of lockdown and Covid-19, and that they will take as much time as necessary to complete it – even if this means working into the middle of the year and having the next academic year start after that.
The message from universities comes as student bodies fight against online learning and continuation of classes that leave some disadvantaged students out of the loop.
The University of Cape Town (UCT) is among those universities committed to completing the 2020 academic year. Its second quarter started on 20 April, with an orientation week lasting until 25 April. Classes will start online on 28 April. “The academic calendar has been organised assuming that as from 1 September we will be able to begin bringing students back,” says UCT CFO and 2020 CFO Awards nominee Ashley Francis. “This may involve a staggered return, beginning with students in specific programmes that rely on face-to-face teaching.”
Ashley says that the current proposed calendar makes allowances for a summer term that will run into 2021, pushing the beginning of the new academic year to March 2021.
“It is important that students have the required learning materials,” he adds. “In addition to providing a laptop to financial aid students at the beginning of each academic year, we went as far as procuring 4,000 additional laptops for vulnerable students during this time.”
UCT also ensured that each student is provided with 30 to 40GB of data, depending on the service provider, each month. Pre-identified websites students need to use to complete their studies have been zero-rated so they don’t use data.