By: Dr. Nolitha Vukuza- Senior Executive Director: Student Affairs, University Relations and UJ Sports
Dear 2021 UJ students,
It is almost three weeks since our University reopened for the 2021 Academic Year. It is my hope that in no time you will be fully settled and that you will explore and take advantage of the many opportunities that the University has to offer. I add my voice to the many warm welcome messages that you have received since you joined the UJ community.
Many of you might have registered late because of delays in funding arising from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). This challenge is not unique to the University of Johannesburg (UJ), it affects all other universities in the country. Details around this, as well as our possible measures to assist students, have already been communicated to you through the University’s internal communication platforms and social media.
In the meantime, I wish to outline some important basic information to help you navigate the UJ landscape as you embark on your exciting journey to the future. As already communicated, teaching and learning will remain online in the first semester. This approach is, among other important reasons, to ensure that we all adhere to the COVID-19 health and safety protocols and procedures, as announced by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), in keeping with the government’s national regulations on the pandemic.
Available support for UJ students.
Despite the fact that teaching and learning will remain online in the first semester, the University Residences are open to welcome those of you whose applications for residence were successful. Already senior students started moving into residence from the 8th of February 2021 and we are expecting qualifying 1st year students to start moving in from the 6th March 2021. Residences are ready to provide extended space for learning (learning communes and Wi-Fi) and a preferred student experience.
To supplement the limited number of residence space, the University has approved no less than 27 000 beds in Privately-Owned Student Accommodation (POSA) around all its four campuses to ensure that those of you who could not find space at on-campus residences are also accommodated. The standards, safety and security of these POSAs are of the level of the Minimum Norms and Standards of Student Accommodation, as gazetted by the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation (DHET).
Both our on and off campus residences have self-catering facilities (no student cafeterias in the residences). The University has Student Centres on its four campuses where you can buy food and basic hygiene packs. Furthermore, both University Residences and POSA have members of staff dedicated to support students throughout the day and night.
The University has several wellness initiatives to support your well-being. In enhancing its initiatives and their efficiencies, the University recently established a Student Wellness Committee, which will, among other functions, coordinate the institutional responses to your needs.
We also provide, through a programme called the Student Meal Assistance Programme, food packs for those of you who may not afford daily meals. This is to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible to apply your mind to the business of the day which in your case is studying. Furthermore, in partnership with other divisions and centre such as the Centre for Psychological Services and Career Development (PsyCad), Campus Health, Transformation and Protection Services, our Student Affairs Division is here to provide you with comprehensive support which will hopefully secure you strong mental and physical health, safety and security.
Measures to prevent infections and the spread of COVID-19
In support of the Government Regulations on the COVID-19 pandemic, the University has put measures in place to ensure that every one of you as, well as our employees and other stakeholders, comply with these regulations. As such, the University does not allow gatherings in any of the residences. As such, strict access to residences will be applied and no visitors will be allowed. As you know, the wearing of masks at all times is compulsory, and failure to adhere to this practice will result in your immediate removal from the university.
You are all encouraged to sign an undertaking that you will comply with all the regulations and measures in place to prevent infections and the spread of the virus. You are therefore required to abide by both the government and institutional regulations, particularly the following:
- The University Rules and Regulations.
- Not to participate in activities which might increase the risks of contracting and/or spreading the coronavirus, on or off-campus.
- To sign in and out of the University premises and/or its residence when it is necessary to move in and out.
- Not to have visitors on campus and in residence, and adhering to curfew stipulations.
- To maintain the acceptable physical distancing of minimum 1.5m at all times.
- To abide by both the set curfew (00:00 being the latest time to come into residence, and 4:00 the earliest time to leave residence and/or the University premises) and,
- Not to sleep out, and to inform the house warden, should such a need arise and only in exceptional circumstances.
- To cooperate with the officials of the University in enforcing the measures aimed at minimizing the risks of contracting and spreading the corona virus.
- To practice cough and sneezing etiquettes.
- To frequently sanitise or wash hands with water and soap.
- To always put on a cloth mask when in common area and/or public space; and
- To measure your body temperature as and when required.
Student Representation and Leadership
Apart from the outlined support structures, the University has the Student Representative Council (SRC) and house committees which were established to advocate for and protect your interests. More information in this regard can be obtained from the offices of Student Affairs on each campus.
Once more, I welcome you to the University of Choice, and wish you all the best throughout your academic journey.
Dr. Nolitha Vukuza