Students at the University of Cape Town react to the new revised academic calendar.
Students at the University of Cape Town say that they have reservations about the institution’s decision to resume contact teaching in the fourth-term of the academic year. Teaching will resume at the university via remote online classes on Tuesday, April 28.

UCT’s revised academic calendar indicates that students will be allowed to return to residences and to campus by Monday, October 5, with social distancing protocols in place. Wits Vuvuzela spoke to some UCT students about their new academic calendar and remote online teaching arrangements.

Yonela Mapela, 21, a final-year BSocSci student majoring in social development, said that not being on campus has affected her productivity and routine. “My problem is that I tend to procrastinate a lot, on campus I avoid that by going to the labs and getting some work done before I head home (res), now I’m stuck at home.”

Mapela said that although she expects to complete her degree in time, there are still uncertainties with regards to how the academic year will transpire. “What’s stressing me is the fact that it’s my final year, I obviously set goals for myself now I’m not sure anymore … I wanted to do really well this year so that applying (for jobs) is easy for me next year, now this whole setup is discouraging,” Mapela added.

Itumeleng Seeco, 21, third-year BScEng electrical and computer engineering, says, “It’s depressing. I hope it won’t take that long for UCT to open because the living situation at home is not conducive to studying”.

Seeco told Wits Vuvuzela that studying from home will affect his usual working structure, and that although he understands why the decision was taken, he is still not happy about it.

“Being away from the community of students is going to affect the way that I work. I mean, at-least at res we do group studies and you also have peers who understand the academic pressures and what you’re going through.”

Lungelo Ziqubu, 20, a second-year BScEng mechanical engineering student, says that he does not think it’s necessary to only return to campus in October because it might prove to be costly as he is from the Free State and will need to travel. “Going back in October is so useless. Going back for only two months will be expensive, a lot of money will be wasted on transportation.”

Ziqubu told Wits Vuvuzela that he is having a hard time studying at home and that he misses having his own space, privacy and access to uncapped Wi-Fi. “Even though I didn’t attend lectures, not being able to get a chance to interact with tutors physically is going to be something else”.

UCT launched an online-learning orientation which started on Monday, April 20, and will end on Friday, April 24, in an attempt to assist students with adapting to the new learning system.

A letter by the deputy vice-chancellor, professor Lis Lange, says that “the academic year will extend well into December and will continue for some students during January and February 2021”.

The university says that the students’ return to campus is dependent on the government’s national directives and that the current plan is subject to change.

FEATURED IMAGE: The University of Cape Town has released a reconfigured academic calendar, announcing that contact teaching will resume in the fourth term. Photo: File