Covid-19 FAQ

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General Section

Dear students, parents, staff and friends of the Belgium Campus ITversity community,

We may have addressed some of you on occasions such as the academic opening, graduation, or any other event; however, we do not often reach out to the entire Belgium Campus community directly. But the current situation calls for such a communication. The COVID-19 pandemic has had such an impact that we feel we must reach out to you now.

The global and disastrous impact of the virus has necessitated the implementation of several political measures in our country, which have a great impact on our higher education institution. Sadly enough, we all witness how this sinister virus is impacting our families, our friends, our communities, our very own way of life. None of us are left untouched, and it hurts to see how our prosperous campus life has come to a complete standstill.

It is not the first time that we highlight the importance of your trust, your contribution and your support and we are thankful for that. During these difficult times we ask for your help to cope with the uncertainties of the current situation. We are facing a daunting task to tackle the problems and prepare for the emergence of an entirely new global system, while we remain optimistic that our world will thrive once again.

We would therefore like to inform you that for a start we have adopted a policy of full compliance with the government’s directives. Although we find ourselves in times of emergency, we shall continue to stick to our values of academic integrity, inclusiveness, equal treatment, truthfulness, character building and self-reliance through transparency, factual dialogue and fact-driven decisions. It’s time for facts, not fear. CNN started the ‘Facts First’ campaign and defined it well: “In a time of uncertainty, facts provide clarity; in a time of anxiety, facts comfort; in a time of misinformation, facts correct; in a time of division, facts unite; in a time of crisis, facts matter most.”

Some countries are advocating the so-called ‘herd immunity’ strategy, whereby group-immunity is built up through a policy of the ‘survival of the fittest’. In addition to the fact that it is opposed by the WHO and many reputable epidemiologists, this strategy goes against the Belgium Campus’s values of inclusiveness and solidarity with the disadvantaged.

We have had no choice but to close our campuses as part of the lockdown measures set out by the government to contain the virus. Consequently, we decided to optimize the use of information and communication technology (ICT) and deliver our programmes online. However, the process of shifting to virtual teaching and learning is easier said than done. The shift clearly exposes the digital divide within our country, its education institutions, and the students at these institutions. Some are far better equipped than others, and internet access remains a problem.

Like most other higher education institutions, we were fast to respond to this disruptive crisis. For many institutions, this situation will further complicate the existing challenges, including budgetary inadequacies, systemic inefficiencies, low adoption of technology, and low capacity to generate funds internally. Public institutions may eventually receive assistance from the state to overcome the consequences of COVID-19. We as a private not-for-profit institution, have to operate with a business model that is heavily dependent on tuition fees and corporate funding for survival.

As an ICT institution we have risen to the occasion and promptly have taken the opportunity to improve and maximize our ICT operation by investing heavily in new infrastructure to keep up with the rapidly changing global educational landscape in a successful way. We consider this threat, as well as the approaches to overcome it, as the catalyst for long-lasting changes which should enable us to successfully complete our mission and vision as one of the private key players in the South African educational landscape.

Let us unite, open our mind and touch heart

As we have entered a lockdown period of several weeks, we would like to take this time to reflect and thank all members of the Belgium Campus community for their continued cooperation and support during these difficult times. It is only as a result of this dedication and commitment that we are able to cope and prepare for the future.

Thank you to our students and their parents for understanding the severity of the situation and for allowing us to comply with the government’s order to close our campus, including vacating our residential facilities. We realize that this was not a simple issue, particularly for residence students whose parents or relatives had to travel a great distance on such short notice. Your cooperation does not go unnoticed; it is greatly appreciated.

Thank you to our support, admin and academic staff who continue to go above and beyond their duty in preparing for the lockdown. We are grateful for your continued hard work and dedication to provide our students with the quality education they deserve. Without your efforts, we would not be able to make the necessary provisions to save the academic year by providing online classes.

To all our staff who must stay home out of necessity, thank you for your understanding. We still count on all of you when the situation gets back to normal.

Lastly, we would like to thank our security team who have continued to keep our campuses safe. Your task is extremely important, especially during this time of increased risk

Let us, in hardship, prepare for an extraordinary destiny

What we are facing is, simply put, daunting. The disruption of our lives is unprecedented, proven by the fact that we receive many heart-breaking messages of growing worries. It takes time and patience to respond and finetune everything for each of our individual community members. We see some students struggling financially, with parents becoming temporarily unemployed and students losing their student jobs, all having trouble making ends meet.

While we do not always know the full extent of these problems, we are pushing our boundaries and doing everything we can to help. As difficult as it has been and still is for all of us, we stand together. Our organisation is built on strong foundations and traditions of service. At its heart is our staff who care passionately about Belgium Campus, our stakeholders, and the nation we serve. If you are in doubt, or experience a growing sense of frustration, contact us via email or our website https://www.belgiumcampus.ac.za/Contact-Us-Main.html.

Let us be informed rather than opinionated

At Belgium Campus, we value the principle that sharing factual information makes one feel valued. In times of crisis, the transparency, quality of information, and how well informed our community members are, is of paramount importance.

Our on-going COVID-19 communication makes sure that many of you will have certain knowledge about the measures that Belgium Campus has had to take to comply with the government’s directives. However, you may be looking for more confirmation. You might want to know more about the why, the what, and the how. For this purpose, we have created a specific information platform on our website at https://www.belgiumcampus.ac.za/News/Main/COVID-19.html. You can read about the operational impact of the closure, how we are investing hugely for the future, how we will continue with online teaching and learning, how we will organise assessments and exams, and how we will guide and coach you through these disrupting times. Additionally, there you can find information on how to take care of your health and mental well-being in isolation, and how to study and learn remotely.

We had to reorganise the academic year under the assumption that the exams in June can still be organised on our campuses. However, we need to prepare for online exams as a worst-case-scenario. If we are allowed to organise exams on campus, we will still need to adhere to the rules of good hygiene practice and social distancing, which will complicate things. In order to fit everything in an achievable calendar, we have to extend the June examination period with one week, reduce winter recess by one week, and add an additional week to the final quarter, with study leave and examinations starting one week later. More information is available on our website, which will regularly be updated.

Let us rise to the occasion by lifting other

As we entered the 21-day lockdown, politicians shared a message of unity to all South Africans, but what does this mean for a country riven with inequalities? With the country in lockdown for several weeks, the need for virtual learning was boosted. Unfortunately, this boost was confronted by the concerns of a widening digital divide. Further, Equal Education’s General Secretary, Ms Noncedo Madubedube, cautioned that online education is not the sole answer to ensuring that teaching and learning continue in a scenario where institutions’ closures are prolonged.

Consequently, the Belgium Campus community has been left with the uneasiness of not knowing when educational institutions will be allowed to reopen and what the educational landscape will look like after the COVID-19 crisis. All of this calls for alternative forms of guidance and support.

We are impressed on how our staff was able to implement the digital move of our campuses by building the necessary infrastructure and the development of online teaching materials. Everyone involved - lecturers, supporting staff and students – deserves utmost praise, respect and admiration. However, as mentioned before, this kind of unpredicted and hurried transition can never be perfect. Online teaching and learning are not as easy as the simple posting of a lecture’s notes online or by making available a video recording of the lecture. Although this may be, for the time being, the only solution, we are currently investing in the pedagogical training of our lecturers for delivering online programmes. We are also investing in the immediate updating of our learning material, according to the methodologies of professional online instructional design. This, in turn, will allow for our students to be equally exposed to the pedagogy of online learning.

Additionally, in agreement with Ms Noncedo Madubedube, not all knowledge and skills, particularly ‘soft skills’, can be taught over the internet, e.g. communication skills, personal initiative, ability to work in teams, etc. As soon as the lockdown is lifted, we plan to adopt a blended or hybrid teaching and learning approach, and this together with our current extensive network of businesses. For now, we will continue to test the resilience of the various tools and technologies used for virtual education, and provide our students with the needed skills and attitudes. In the midterm, we will solve the challenges in delivering online programmes which require practical experimentation. In the long term, we should have further diversified our virtual content and invested in additional infrastructure to create an augmented virtual learning environment. At the end, face-to-face education is here to stay at Belgium Campus.

Finally, we would like to emphasise our intention of keeping education inclusive. Building a virtual classroom for everybody requires the availability of a laptop (not smartphone) for each student, as well as constant power supply and the availability of broadband internet services at a cheaper rate. While some students will have the capacity to move to virtual education, there are concerns that many might be left behind. It is true that this generation was born seeing the world through the lens of a cell phone, but not every student has a device adequate for learning or indeed access to the internet – a harsh reality. Solving this problem will need an all-inclusive approach that involves all stakeholders, government, private sector and educational institutions, working in partnership to ensure that each student has a laptop or tablet and internet services for uninterrupted teaching and learning, and scholarly work. We have reached out to the government, network providers and business to zero-rate our online platform and to provide students in need with devices. But we cannot wait, and will, for those who are not connected, provide the opportunity to catch up after the lockdown, including extending the academic calendar, thereby adding extra tuition hours for learners and lecturers.

At Belgium Campus ITversity, it is our belief that education is a lot more than online learning only. We try to preserve Belgium Campus as a ‘living community’, the way it was before, so that nobody has to miss out on the quality of our offers and services. Notwithstanding the supportive network of family and friends, which is of vital importance, we encourage our students to stay actively connected socially as much as possible in trying to escape from the isolation or looming loneliness. We encourage them to make active use of discussion forums or chat sessions to assimilate what they have learned together with their classmates, to use the guidance offered by faculty, and contact their counsellors in case of doubt. On our website, students can find guidance on different essential issues, such as how to manage their health and safety when they work at home.

Additionally, as we have said above, we also provide guidance on different essential issues in overcoming this crisis, such as strategies on safeguarding health and mental well-being when working at home, on efficient working and remote learning, on organising a daily schedule, and on working securely online when off campus.

We are dedicated to keeping our Belgium Campus community connected and alive. Our community is one that assures that nobody has to miss out on the opportunity to finish his academic year successfully.

Dear students and parents, the challenges ahead of us are enormous, and please realise that we are embarking on a long journey. You can count on our commitment and dedication to increase access to high-quality education, and we are even re-imagining both the possibilities and the opportunities of online learning for our learners. In return we rely on your motivation to get started and your commitment to keep us going in our search for solutions. We are inspired by the words of Mr Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa:

“We will continue to count on your unwavering support and commitment … in bringing about the desired renaissance of Africa.”

Commitment is the glue that bonds us to our goals in overcoming this COVID-19 crisis. We don’t know when it will be, but when life returns to normal it will be in a new world. Nevertheless, once cleared for take-off again, it will be exciting. Families will be reunited, students will return, and our campuses will become vibrant once more. And when they do, we will be ready, to teach and serve. Please continue to visit our website https://www.belgiumcampus.ac.za/ for the most up-to-date information including a full breakdown of frequently asked questions. Please, bear in mind that this is a fast-changing situation. We will update these FAQs as further information becomes available.

Stay safe, and follow the precautionary measures outlined by the World Health Organization and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Warm regards,
Enrico M. Jacobs
CEO

In the wake of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the South African Government announced several precautionary measures to mitigate the spread of the virus in protecting public health. One of these was originally the requirement that from March 18 until April 15, all schools and higher education institutions should close. Meanwhile, this measure has been extended to April 30.

In these unprecedented times, the health and well-being of staff and students is a priority for BC ITversity’s executive management. In support of the Government, BC ITversity has adopted a policy of full compliance with all the Government requirements, advice and guidance and will continue to do so as things can change rapidly. Further updates on closures will be posted online and communicated to all students and staff as they arise.

We are monitoring the situation closely and we will continue to provide as much advise, care and support as possible to our BC ITversity community via email and on this webpage. See below a full breakdown of frequently asked question for the different management domains which we are constantly updating.

Please, keep checking your email updates.

Should you, a student or staff member, be diagnosed with COVID-19, you are required to inform us immediately. Also, if a staff member or a student informs you that they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, please inform Belgium Campus ITversity know immediately by contacting us on 010 593 5368.

General FAQ

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, BC ITversity’s executive management has implemented numerous of measures in the interest of staff and student’s health and well-being. These are as follows:

Closure of the BC ITversity campus - Following the address by President Cyril Ramaphosa and as a precautionary measure BC ITversity took the proactive decision to suspend all classes and assessments during lockdown on March 16 until April 30, 2020. Considering the severity of this worldwide pandemic it is most likely that the lockdown will be extended.

Learning & teaching – Face-to-face teaching is suspended until further notice. Teaching and assessment will continue remotely and students are urged to participate fully in order to minimize the disruption to the academic year. BC ITversity has implemented 14 virtual studios to ensure that online classes can start on Wednesday 15th in the event we are unable to resume face-to-face teaching.

Working remotely – BC ITversity staff are required to work from home until further notice, except for some essential services as defined by the Government Directives.

Public health – Staff and students are urged to exercise caution and follow the public health guidelines rigorously, everywhere and at all times.

Residences – Students in residence are urged to go home. The BC residences remain open for some students who for exceptional reasons cannot return home. They need to rigorously conform to the specific precautionary measures implemented by BC ITversity for its residences (see section on ‘Accommodations FAQs’)
Re-opening BC ITversity will depend on the Government’s decision. In his announcement on March 17th, Minister Blade Nzimande stressed that the closure of institutions was merely a short recess and not a shutdown. However, President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize imposed on March 27th one of the strictest three-week nationwide lockdowns.

The terms of this lockdown include the closure of all companies that are not essential to the production and transport of food, basic goods and medical supplies. However, companies who can continue their operations remotely have been encouraged to do so.

Since all tertiary institutions were due to reopen on April 16, according to Minister Blade Nzimande’s announcement on March 17, the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology announced that tertiary institutions should prepare to switch to remote teaching — a solution that is still unfamiliar territory.

In compliance, BC ITversity Executive Management has decided to fully opt for online teaching and online classes commenced on April 15 as previously communicated (see ‘BC COVID-19 Communication 6’).

On April 9 President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the extension of coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown to at least the end of April. However, it's not clear with a pandemic of this scale how everything can miraculously return to normal. Globally, experts disagree on how long it could take to fully lift the restrictions on daily life. Several expert sources expect that they will remain at least another six months and lifting them will certainly be a gradual process. It looks like we will need to prepare for the long haul.

Further information and logistical arrangements will be communicated to students and parents via email and will also be available on the students’ online portal and through Microsoft Teams and this website.
No, as soon as the lockdown is lifted, we will adopt a blended or hybrid teaching and learning approach. It represents a learning model that combines both formal (traditional classroom) and non-formal (online courses) methodologies. In other words, it represents a style of education in which students learn via electronic and online media as well as traditional face-to-face teaching.
As a rule, staff will not be able to gain access to BC ITversity buildings until the lockdown period has been lifted. Access will only be permitted for essential staff, being security staff. Any exceptional need to access must be pre-approved by the CEO as permitted by government regulations.

On March 15th President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster announcing a range of measures to contain a recent COVID-19 outbreak in South Africa. For good measure, Minister Blade Nzimande announced on March 17 that all tertiary institutions must close for early recess from March 18 until April 15 and should plan to reopen on April 16 depending on the course of the COVID-19 course in South Africa.

In full compliance, BC ITversity Executive Management has taken the proactive decision to suspend all classes and assessments already on Monday, March 16, and close the residences on Friday, March 20, both until further notice.

Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on April 9 the extension of coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown to at least the end of April.

Please check regularly your email for updated information and other BC ITversity information channels.
All services are working remotely to the maximum extent possible during the closure period and providing some services online, using communication channels including telephone, e-mail, virtual meetings and online classes. Please, check the following contact information to guide you in contacting the available BC ITversity services.
Department Contact Information
Academic Theodorus Kritzinger - kritzinger.t@belgiumcampus.ac.za
Registrar Elaine van Wyk - vanwyk.e@belgiumcampus.ac.za
Human Resources Lettitia Van Der Merwe - vandermerwe.l@belgiumcampus.ac.za
Accounts Hezanne van der Merwe - vandermerwe.h@belgiumcampus.ac.za
Health & Safety Taylor Janse van Rensburg - jvrensburg.t@belgiumcampus.ac.za
Support Services Xolisile Ntuli - ntuli.x@belgiumcampus.ac.za
Technical Support support@belgiumcampus.ac.za
IT Support Francois F. Venter - venter.f@belgiumcampus.ac.za
Registrations admissions@belgiumcampus.ac.za
Counselling Alisha Narine - narine.a@belgiumcampus.ac.za
Zwonaka Netshikwati - netshikawi.z@belgiumcampus.ac.za
Dr. Gerard Steyn – steyn.gtg@belgiumcampus.ac.za
General Inquiries info@belgiumcampus.ac.za
As at 16 April 2020, no cases of COVID-19 have been reported to the Belgium Campus.

Student Section

All face-to-face lectures, tutorials, practical classes and projects are cancelled during the lockdown. Teaching and learning activities will continue using remote methods. This implies that students and lecturers will have to get acquainted with a new online learning environment, re-establish new ways of communication, relationships and interaction to optimise teaching and learning. We understand that this is quite an adjustment, but rest assured we will provide online support in training and solving any problems which may occur.

Infrastructure & equipment - BC ITversity has hugely invested in new infrastructure and equipment. This includes building 14 virtual studios and professional IT equipment to facilitate a professional approach to online teaching and learning (see also ‘BC COVID-19 Communication 6’).

Online teaching – Teaching will be provided through Microsoft Teams and ZOOM Video Communication platforms. Lecturers have developed and will continue developing and updating digital learning material for their respective courses. For the time being, it may be limited to a mix of lecturer’s notes, textbooks, PowerPoint presentations and/or videos. Meanwhile, we are investing in the pedagogical training of our lecturers for delivering online learning material according the methodologies of professional online instructional design.

In most cases tutorials will continue online. Your tutor(s) will decide on which technology to use, and these may take the form of a MS Teams forum or a MS Team chat, or a conference call through any other platform such as MS Teams, ZOOM, Skype, Skype for Business or Cisco Webex. Whatever the means used; we encourage you to keep in touch.

Research and project work will be disrupted. Experiential learning is a problem experienced worldwide by educational institutions. We are working to provide the nearest viable alternative to ensure that you achieve the learning objectives of the respective module. In some cases, it may include a change in the content of the module and updates to the course outlines you have received before. (see also the section on ‘Research/Project Students FAQs’).

Online learning - We urge all our students to continue as best as possible with their studies during this difficult period. You should make the necessary arrangements to study online. You will need a computer, a good internet connection and a quiet study place. We recommend that you consult our guidelines on how to familiarise yourself with the different online platforms, on how to study online in the most efficient way and finally but not least on how to take care of your safety and mental well-being. Should you require any assistance in this regard, please do not hesitate to contact our student counsellors for advice (Alisha Narine - narine.a@belgiumcampus.ac.za or Dr. Gerard Steyn – ghsteyn@absamail.co.za).

Digital divide -We understand that not everyone is able to move to online education. This will need an all-inclusive approach at national level and is out of BC ITversity’s control. But we cannot wait until all problems regarding online connectivity and work are solved. Therefore, we will provide a contingency plan for those who are not connected offering the opportunity to catch up after the lockdown, including extending the academic year, thereby adding extra tuition hours for learners and lecturers. You will be informed in due time on the way forward.

Assessments – During the lockdown, assessments and exams will not take place in the usual format. They will be replaced by online approaches, such as remote assignments, timed remote assessments and in some cases face-to-face online conference interviews.

Reorganisation of the academic calendar - The academic year had to be reorganised with the assumption that the need for remote teaching will continue throughout the rest of the academic year, including

extending the June examination period, reducing winter recess by one week, and adding an additional week to the final quarter with study leave and examinations starting a week later.

We understand that this unpredicted and hurried transition can never be perfect from the beginning and can have a great impact on the performance of our students as well as our lecturers. As part of our ongoing quality efforts BC ITversity will assess challenges in the move to online teaching and learning, including determining the level of connectivity, access to devices and other challenges experienced by students and lecturers, and to use this period to resolve these challenges as best as possible.

For now, we will continue to test the resilience of the various tools and technologies used for virtual education and provide our students with the needed skills and attitudes. In the midterm, we will solve the challenges in delivering online programmes which require practical experimentation. In the long term, we should have further diversified our virtual content and invested in additional infrastructure to create an augmented virtual learning environment.

Policy resources – The BC ITversity academic policy handbook is available for download at https://portal.belgiumcampus.ac.za/courses/3/discussion_topics/603. We encourage you to consult it in conjunction with this section on ‘Teaching, learning & Examinations’. It contains information on the following important policies: 1. policy on monitoring and evaluation; 2. policy on assessment, moderation & examinations; 3. policies on pass requirements and experiential learning.

Prospective Students

As of 16 April 2020, BC ITversity re-started its programme and courses entirely through online methods of teaching and learning until further notice depending on the Government’s decision to lift the lockdown.

All services are working remotely to the maximum extent possible during the closure period and we are doing everything necessary to continue with classes and to ensure that the academic year continues for current students. For prospective students, applications will continue through our online application process.

As a prospective student, should you have any queries or concerns with regards to applying at BC ITversity and how this will affect this process during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, please contact us at admissions@belgiumcampus.ac.za You can still apply because our entire application process is online. By creating an applicant profile at the following link https://www.belgiumcampus.ac.za/Apply-Now.html you can initiate your application and work through the relevant section from there. You will continuously receive communications from us until your process has been completed. There is also assistance available throughout the duration of the process.

We also had an online open day on Saturday 18 April. The recordings and footage from the online open day will be made available at our website for future reference. We will also have two more open days on 18 July 2020 and 10 October 2020.

Although this is an evolving situation, we are working to process all applications in order to commence new students as planned in January 2021. BC ITversity is ready to commence with the new academic year, whether this will be contact classes, online classes or a mixture of both you do not have to worry because we will be ready to welcome all of our new students in the new year.

International Students

The international students’ safety and welfare will, as for our regular students, remain at the forefront of our decision-making during this COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, international students are required to follow the instructions in place for all BC ITversity students to protect themselves from COVID-19 infection. These are highlighted on https://sacoronavirus.co.za/ and the additional web pages mentioned under section ‘National & International Information & Advice’ on this webpage.

However, in your own interest and to ensure you have access to appropriate support networks of family, relatives, friends and health care at home during this pandemic, BC ITversity strongly recommends that international students currently studying at BC ITversity arrange to return home.

Returning home - Should you choose to return home we want to reassure you that where possible we will make alternative arrangements allowing you to continue to engage with your programme or project work in BC ITversity by following the instructions regarding learning or working from home. Also, you will not be disadvantaged in terms of academic assessment.

Staying in South Africa - We understand that some international students may be unable to return home at this time due to factors such as barriers to travel, visa restrictions, academic requirements, health reasons or other reasons which require you to remain on or proximate to campus. For those who cannot return or choose to stay, please rest assured that we are here to support you. Also, we ask that you remain in close contact with family, friends and your local Embassy or Consulate.

If by exception you have to stay on campus, we require you to comply

with the instructions in place for BC ITversity students in residence. Support during this challenging time is available from our Student Support Service (ntuli.x@belgiumcampus.ac.za) as well as our Counselling Service (narine.a@belgiumcampus.ac.za).

Organising return - Organizing your return trip is dependent on several factors, i.e. 1. what is the advice of the South African Government (http://www.dirco.gov.za/); 2. what does your home embassy advice; 3. what is the situation in the country you are transiting through; 4. what is the situation with the airlines; 5. BC ITversity’s dedicated webpage for COVID-19, which include FAQs on travel. So, make sure to monitor all relevant information on travelling home. Information about the extent of COVID-19 spread in a country can be found on the website of the World Health Organisation.

Globally, flight restrictions and route cancellations are happening on a daily basis and there is no longer guarantee that air routes will continue to operate. Most countries are working with airlines to show maximum flexibility to those passengers who need to change their existing flight arrangements. For this reason, where commercial flights are still an option, we recommend that our international student who wish to return home to make arrangements as soon as possible.

Effective from 18 March 2020, the South African government implemented travel restrictions and closed some of its ports of entry to reduce the impact of the virus. During the lockdown period, however, all ports of entry will be closed to the movement of people, reducing drastically the return options of our international students and visiting scholars.

As a result, countries are working side-by-side with their international partners to identify alternative options where possible. Returning home has become dependent on each country’s own repatriation rules and regulations. Please contact your local embassy for more information on alternative ways to return home during the lockdown. They understand that this is a stressful situation for their citizens and your embassy’s network is most apt to provide people with all the information and assistance that they can provide, bearing in mind the situation is unfolding across multiple countries and is not one under one’s control.
BC ITversity is closed until further notice, in full compliance with the South African Government COVID-19 Directives announced on March 15th, March 18th and April 9th regarding respectively the state of emergency, the closure of all higher education institutions and the extension of the lockdown.

As for our students at home, safety and well-being of BC ITversity students currently studying abroad are and will remain at the forefront of our decision making. As part of our concern, we strongly recommend that our international students return home to South Africa. As with any travel abroad, consideration should always be given to your personal circumstances and the evolving COVID-19 situation in many countries

Staying abroad - We understand that some international students may be unable to return home at this time due to factors such as barriers to travel, visa restrictions, academic requirements, health reasons or other reasons which require them to remain on or proximate to their host institution. For those who cannot return or choose to stay, please rest assured that we are here to support you.

In our common interest we urge our international students to follow rigorously the directives and instructions applicable locally to protect themselves from COVID-19 infection. If you have to stay on campus, we require you to comply with the specific instructions in place at your host institution for students in residence. Also, we ask that you remain in close contact with family, friends and your local Embassy or Consulate.

Organising return - Organizing your return trip is dependent on several factors, i.e. 1. what is the advice of the local Government; 2. what does the South African Government (http://www.dirco.gov.za/) or its embassy in the host country advice; 3. what is the situation in the country you are transiting through; 4. what is the situation with the airlines; 5. BC ITversity’s dedicated webpage for COVID-19, which include FAQs on travel. So, make sure to monitor all relevant information on travelling home. Information about the extent of COVID-19 spread in a particular country can be found on the website of the World Health Organisation.

Globally, flight restrictions and route cancellations are happening on a daily basis and there is no longer guarantee that air routes will continue to operate. Most countries are working with airlines to show maximum flexibility to those passengers who need to change their existing flight arrangements. For this reason, where commercial flights are still an option, we recommend that our international students who wish to return home to make arrangements as soon as possible.

You should monitor the travel advice from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) regularly for the country you are currently located (see section on ‘National & International Information Sources’). Additionally, you should consult the guidance of the local authorities in the country where you are based as local restrictions may be in place or planned as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, countries are working side-by-side with their international partners to identify alternative options where possible. Returning home has become dependent on each country’s own repatriation rules and regulations. Please contact your local embassy for more information on alternative ways to return home during the lockdown. They understand that this is a stressful situation for their citizens and your embassy’s network most apt to provide people with all the information and assistance that they can provide, bearing in mind the situation is unfolding across multiple countries and is not one under one’s control
International students who are feeling ill and would like to visit a doctor should inform the security staff on campus, who will then contact the necessary staff or services. Alternatively, they can call the medical centre in Pretoria North on 012 565 6283 (http:// www.pretoriamedical.co.za/contact.html). They are located in 259 Burger Street, Pretoria North.

International students who show any flu-like or respiratory symptoms, are required to practice self-quarantine and inform the authorities immediately on 080 002 9999 (see also the section on ‘Precautions & Public Health FAQs’).

International students need urgent medical care can dial 10177 or 112 for medical emergency services. There are also a number of private providers with emergency services, such as Netcare – 082 911, ER24 084 124. 10111 is the emergency number for the police

Registered Student

As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic affects students in different ways, Government and institutions of higher education are in the process of implementing measures aimed at completing the academic year.

BC ITversity accreditation - On 17 April 2020 the CHE lifted all restrictions on all programmes accredited for contact delivery. “All programmes accredited by the CHE for contact only can also be offered, supported and assessed through virtual and online delivery and blended learning approaches.” So, you can be reassured that there is no change in the validity of your qualification.

BC ITversity safety net/no detriment policy – At BC ITversity, we are all too aware of the impact of the move to online teaching and learning activities on the learning performance of students. We wish to reassure students that while alternative arrangements, such as deferred assessments, alternative assessments, online examinations, have been put in place “standards will be upheld” making sure that qualifications achieved during this academic year will be valued and regarded exactly as in any other year. Notwithstanding, we will adopt a “safety net/no detriment” approach to ensure that our students’ future academic or career prospects are not hindered unduly by the COVID-19 pandemic (see ‘Teaching, Learning & Exams FAQs’).
Yes, the Department of Higher Education and Training have requested all higher education institutions in South Africa to postpone all graduation ceremonies for a period of 3 months. All students that have completed all requirements to graduate will receive a digital copy of their qualification on May 8, 2020, and a hard copy of the certificate can be couriered to them on request. The graduation ceremony will be postponed until such time that it is safe again to convene in large groups. The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) will inform us on their decision in due course, whereupon students and parents will be notified.
BC ITversity is dedicated to keeping its community connected and alive. In addition to our website, students have access to formal as well as informal student platforms.

Formal platform - Belgium Campus ITversity has established a formal academic student community that can be reached through Microsoft Teams.

Informal platform - The informal student community can be reached via the WhatsApp channels created as well as on social media.

In addition, the Student Representative Council (SRC) has created alternative channels of communication via WhatsApp with their fellow peers who belong in a specific year of study and subject. To share information, learning materials and assist one another. You can contact the SRC at the following email addresses:

Position Name & Surname Email Address Phone No.
President Nicole Truter 576022@student.belgiumcampus.ac.za +27767302106
Vice Presiden Neolin Pachai 576150@student.belgiumcampus.ac.za +27835561811
Vice Presiden Clarece Steyn 576088@student.belgiumcampus.ac.za +27823167123
Assistant Vice President Tanielle Pettitt 576090@student.belgiumcampus.ac.za

Research/Project Students

During lockdown we expect students to continue to make reasonable academic progress with their thesis/dissertations (DST481) or innovation projects (PRJ251, PRJ371, PRJ381). We will do everything in our power to support you and to facilitate progress. We have instructed our lecturers to be flexible and accommodating as much as possible in this situation of unprecedented uncertainty.

Many of you may already be hampered by consequences of the implemented precautionary measures, such as lack of access to BC ITversity facilities, limited team participation, or travel restrictions. Your supervisor is best placed to advise you on how to maintain progress with your work and writing, both while the lockdown lasts and when circumstances return to normal.

Keep in touch – Where possible, we encourage you to keep in regular contact with your supervisor, preferably by means of face-to-face digital platforms, such as Microsoft Teams, Skype and/or Zoom. Most of the lecturers are now using MS Teams, which is available on your Office 365 package, to set up team meetings. It is a most useful tool for teleconferencing, sharing documents, screens, and notes.

Your supervisor can help you in developing a programme of work. While some work, such as field work, may not be possible, there will be other aspects of your thesis/dissertation or innovation project that you can work on, e.g. formal and informal learning online, online case studies or literature reviews, report preparation and writing, etc.

Making progress - Please follow rigorously the instructions in the study guide of the respective modules, available on CANVAS or the subject on Microsoft Teams (see ‘BC COVID-19 Communications 8 & 9’), in order to progress on the research requirements and reports. Templates included in the study guide provide guidance as to what will be required in what sections of your research reports, your milestones and deadlines.

We will continue with virtual sessions until the lockdown is lifted. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your supervisor or the Administrative Dean of the Faculty of Information Technology.
In compliance with the Government’s Directives, particularly on travel restrictions, BC ITversity has suspended field work and/or field trips in South Africa and abroad until further notice. Field work includes for example all outside construction work and data collection for research projects.

We realise all too well that this decision will hinder those who during their projects must undertake field work and/or trips. The situation is regrettable but unfortunately necessary. The safety and welfare of our students and staff takes precedence over everything else.

Research/project students should liaise with their supervisors to organise their work in a manner which minimises the impact of this suspension of fieldwork on their research. In the interest of forward planning we confirm that BC ITversity will ensure students are not academically disadvantaged by cancellation of any fieldwork or a field trip as a result of this decision and alternative arrangements will be made for a student’s academic requirements where necessary.

If you have specific questions in this regard, please contact senior staff, such as the project coordinator, Academic Dean or Assistant Dean.

Reports & Thesis

During the COVID-19 lockdown period students should keep following the instructions in accordance with the milestones set out in the study guide which is available on CANVAS. Feedback sessions with your supervisor, follow-up and final year presentations will continue online according to schedule (see also section ‘Assessments & Examinations FAQs’). Make sure that you provide your supervisor with your contact details, such as your Skype address, prior to the meeting through e-mail for the session to take place as scheduled.

We urge all students to maintain regular contact with your supervisor to keep you on track and to amend your work programme in case of problems. For example, while direct field/survey work may not be possible, there will be other aspects of your research that you can work on in consultation with your supervisor (see also section ‘Research/Project Students FAQs’).

The milestone reports and final version of your dissertation have to be submitted as electronic documents which will then be reviewed and marked. Before doing so, make sure to consult with your supervisor and adhere to the procedures relating to the format and submission of an electronic copy of your thesis for examination.

You will be notified, one week ahead of schedule, regarding the organisation of your milestone and final year oral presentations during an examination period. Detailed information will be uploaded on the student portal 1 which can be accessed on Belgium Campus Team on Microsoft Teams.
The dissertation presentations and final assessments have been concluded for the class of 2019. Students that are enrolled for the experiential learning year during 2020 and completing their dissertations will have a period of 12 months to complete these.

The final presentation and assessment will only take place during the January 2021 examination period. In the assumption that the lockdown by then has long been lifted, students are required to provide an approved soft-bound print copy of the final version of their dissertation.
TSchedules for these feedback sessions will be posted for all students currently enrolled for experiential learning year, as we have done in the past. You will have to provide your supervisor with your skype details prior to the meeting through e-mail for the session to take place as scheduled.

Learning

In compliance with the South African Government Directives and the instructions of the Department of Higher Education and Training on COVID-19, we have switched to an online mode of learning and assessment to ensure that disruption to the academic year is a little as possible and that students can continue with their academic year. However, this transition may have a significant impact on both students’ mindset towards learning and learning performance. We are well aware that students will face increased obstacles to achieving good grades as they struggle with getting acquainted to a new way of teaching and learning, problems reaching online resources, lack of space to work and compounded further by safety, well-being and mental health challenges.

The impact of the COVID-19 will be different for all of you. No single student’s concern is less valid than another student’s concern. No matter your own unique circumstance, be assured we do not want to leave a student behind and will do our utmost best to support you in these difficult times. If you have specific concerns about or experience problems with one of these issues, please make sure to contact us at 010 593 5368 and/or info@belgiumcampus.ac.za. Uncertainty is not a place you want to be in – so ask for help! BC ITversity is constantly working to address your concerns and to help to the best of our ability with problems that you may experience.

Bridging the digital divide – Access to online learning resources and assessments requires a constant power supply, a reliable internet access, data and a reliable desktop or laptop. While some students will have the capacity to move to online education, there are concerns that many might be left behind. This problem of the so-called ‘digital divide’ or ‘the haves and have-nots’ is a worldwide problem which coronavirus has exposed as never before. Solving the problem will need an all- inclusive approach that involves all stakeholders, government, private sector and educational institution, working in partnership to ensure that no one is left behind.

As a private not-for-profit educational institution, BC ITversity does everything we can to make a meaningful contribution to solving this problem. We have reached out to government, network providers and businesses to zero-rate our online platform and to provide our students in need with devices. The following actions have been taken:
  • Application by BC ITversity for whitelisting our educational online platform with Vodacom on March 18, 2020, including follow-up on March 31.
  • The South African Private Education (SAPHE) organisation, of which BC ITversity is a member, has sent letters to the DHET and telecom providers (Telkom, MTN, Vodacom and Cell C) on April 8, 2020, requesting their support for zero-rating, including private institutions.
  • The South African Private Education (SAPHE) organisation, of which BC ITversity is a member, has sent letters to the DHET and telecom providers (Telkom, MTN, Vodacom and Cell C) on April 8, 2020, requesting their support for zero-rating, including private institutions.
  • SAPHE addressed the Competition Commission on April 16, 2020, for access to reduced cost or zero-rated data as per the Government Gazette issued on March 26, 2020.
  • The DHET started negotiations with Mobile Network Operators for zero-rated data on April 20, 2020.
  • Application by BC ITversity for daily 10GB + 20GB on behalf of our students on April 24, 2020.
  • SAPHE and Universities of South Africa (USAf) has a longstanding relationship and in a meeting during the week of April 20, 2020, the parties agreed to work together and SAPHE was requested to put together a working paper on how they can work better with USAf.
  • On 23 April APPETD (Association of Private Providers of Education, Training and Development) informed us that the Minister would like to have engagements with APPETD as soon as possible, to discuss measures that private providers are putting in place as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. BC ITversity has submitted our information on 23 April.
  • BE ITversity is also working hand in hand with APPETD (Association of Private Providers of Education, Training and Development) who has been requested by the advisors to the
Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, to compile a document of concerns and recommendations for the private education and training sector to ensure that training continues in the COVID-19 lockdown and submit our comments by 28 April, which was done.

Despite these actions, there is as yet no clear outcome. The telecoms providers have not been massively helpful to the private as well as public institutions. USAf, DHET and CHE are doing all they can to include us in the discussions but the telecoms providers are not even being responsive to the publics.

Nevertheless, we hope that you understand that a final solution for our students is out of our control and we will keep you informed on progress. Meanwhile, we are well aware of the different challenges and difficulties that our students may experience due to financial constraints, organizing a conducive learning environment at home and the challenge of adapting to participating in online teaching and assessments.

Consequently, we cannot wait and are taking the necessary steps in providing the necessary academic and social support to our students. Our faculty has put measures in place to ensure that every connected student is supported throughout the online learning period and their learning outcome is still of a high quality that we as an institution strive for. For those who are not connected, we will provide the opportunity to catch up after the lockdown, including extending the academic year, thereby adding extra tuition hours for learners and lectures.

Learning from home – Due to health restrictions, classes are now being taught online and suddenly the classroom looks a lot different. While some students have grown accustomed to online learning, for many others learning online presents a challenge. Also, lecturers will have to adapt to online teaching.

Here are some tips to help you with this ‘new normal’ until the COVID-19 pandemic is under control.
  • Slow the spread - Whatever you need to do to learn at home, limiting the spread of the virus remains the most important. Staying at home and other social distancing recommendations may feel an inconvenience, but it is the best way right now to protect family, friends, and neighbours who may be vulnerable.
  • Create a dedicated study space – Create a study space which works for you. You may already have a dedicated office space for your studies, which is ideal. But, if you do not it is not the only option. You can carve out a space in your bedroom, kitchen, living room or any other room in your home. But what is critical to creating a good, dedicated study space is ensuring minimal distractions. Communicate this to others in your home so that they are aware of your space and you time spent within that space.
  • Create a study plan & keep routine – Since changes in routine can be stressful, it will be helpful to talk with family members about what your daily structure. For many parents, education is difficult to prioritise, especially when tasked with paying the bills and putting food on the table. Create a study plan that works for you and your life at home and discuss with your family members what your daily schedule will be. Stick to it. Routine is critical to your study.
The following are tips to stay efficient and keep your spirits up: 1. get dressed; 2. establish boundaries; 3. get out and about (if not self-isolating); 4. keep informed and communicate with your lecturers, supervisor, classmates and friends; 5. take regular breaks; 6. Stay organised; 7. create a daily schedule; 8. avoid multitasking; 9. adjust your study habits. We encourage you to read our BC ITversity guidelines on ‘Tips for Students Learning Online from Home’. Also, read more tips from the BBC at: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-51868894.

Looking after your well-being – The current pandemic has resulted in a loss of predictability, loss of routine, loss of classroom learning and loss of exposure to space. You must be aware that these can affect your social, physical and/or mental health.

Here are some tips to help you in taking care of your well-being until the COVID-19 pandemic is under control.
- Keep in touch – If you have specific concerns or any questions about studying for a particular programme of study, course or module, your first point of contact is your course lecturer or module coordinator regarding course content, assessments and to clarify any expectations you have of each other. If they cannot answer your specific question, they will guide you in the right direction to someone who can. Communication is the number one thing that will make online learning a positive experience.

A lot of your questions may already have been answered on this webpage, but you may also wish to get in touch with individual BC ITversity services. You can find their contact information in the section ‘General BC ITversity Information & Advice FAQS’.

  • Connect with others – We ask you to keep our BC ITversity community ‘alive’ and stay in contact with your fellow SRC members, classmates and friends. You are a huge resource to each other. If you know of any students who live/ work alone, please also make an effort to stay in touch with them. You can connect to others using different digital tools. BC ITversity has already established virtual discussion groups on CANVAS and MS Teams. Additionally, we encourage you to use other social media platforms/texting in setting up your own support groups having for example virtual breaks, chats about your day, etc. Most important is to communicate and connect with each other regularly as you will learn a lot from each other.
  • Digital citizenship – Be kind and respectful to your online classmates and lecturers. Apply the same rules of the social conventions and norms that exist in a face-to-face classroom. Please remember that your lecturers also have to adapt to online teaching and many of you might be in the same situation. Be patient with each other. If something goes wrong do not get frustrated because things will go wrong and mistakes will happen. The most important is that we remain connected as a ‘living and learning community’ and support each other.
  • Mental health – Caring for your mental health during your studies is important not only in normal times but especially in times of crisis. Doing so will ensure you are able to balance the many responsibilities you have. Ignoring your mental health may cause a variety of issues that can disrupt your focus, efficiency, and overall learning performance. Mind yourself. Be kind to yourself. If you feel frustrated or confused at any stage, remember this is absolutely normal. Know when you need a break. Seek silence. Get active. Focus on the positive. Hang out virtually with positive people you trust. Remember, there are others who are experiencing very similar feelings so reach out to friends and classmates. We also encourage you to read our guideline ‘Looking after your well-being during COVID-19’.
Focusing on the positive – Learning online can certainly create different challenges and opportunities for those of us used to teaching and learning in the ‘traditional classroom’ environment. While we can appreciate that this is a challenging time for all, try not to view this as an obstacle, but rather as an opportunity. An opportunity to a new and exciting way to learn, to collaborate and connect, to manage your own time and work and learn in a way that suits you best. This experience will improve your technical skills, as well as your soft skills. It will make you more resilient in life, tackling the many future challenges and opportunities ahead of you.

We at Belgium Campus ITversity will always be there for you, so please reach out and ask, and we will do our utmost to assist you. We provide technical IT support ( venter.f@belgiumcampus.ac.za ) as well as academic support (kritzinger.t@belgiumcampus.ac.za). So, make sure to avail of this when you need it. If you are seeking mental health support, please contact the counselling support service at the following links: Alisha Narine - narine.a@belgiumcampus.ac.za; Zwonaka Netshikwati - netshikawi.z@belgiumcampus.ac.za or Dr. Gerard Steyn – steyn.gtg@belgiumcampus.ac.za.

Assessments & Exams

During the lockdown assessments and examinations will not take place in the usual format. The Faculty of Information Technology of BC ITversity is investigating different commercial assessment models, tools and online platforms that could be utilised to assess the progress of students. Additionally, the online assessment task team of the FIT are evaluating the feasibility of developing our own BC ITversity online assessment tool. More information to be provided in due course.
As face to face classes were suspended on March 16, 2020, the last classes and assessments will be scheduled during the last week of the current quarter. Examinations for these subjects will be written during the examination block following these subjects. The examinations that were planned between March 30 and April 3 have been postponed until the June examination block which will take place from June 22 to July 3, 2020. Winter recess has been shortened to one week and will take place from July 6 to July 10, 2020. The December examination block has also been postponed until the period from December 7 to December 11, 2020.
If you must do an oral examination, i.e. Academic Writing, Dissertation and/or Innovation Projects, while BC ITversity is closed during the COVID-19 lockdown, we will facilitate your viva voce examination online, subject to certain conditions. The BC ITversity procedure for viva voce examinations during the closure will be uploaded on CANVAS and MS Teams and students will be informed in due course.

Teaching

Online classes started on April 15, 2020, for full-time classes and April 18, 2020, for part-time classes (see also ‘BC COVID-19 Communication 9 of 14/04/2020’ at the following link https://www.belgiumcampus.ac.za/News/BCCommunication9.html). This in compliance of the Government’s Directives. Online classes will last until further notice dependent on the Government decision on when and how to lift the lockdown.

The digital teaching and learning activities will make us of the following digital platform, i.e. CANVAS, Microsoft Teams, ZOOM Video Communications. A guidance document detailing the specifics of each platform is available on CANVAS and can be accessed at the following link https://portal.belgiumcampus.ac.za/courses/3/discussion_topics/820.

Schedules - Online class schedules are available on CANVAS and Belgium Campus team under Microsoft Teams. Full-time students should check their schedules regularly, as these are being updated. Please ensure to check your schedule regularly to avoid missing out on any online sessions.

Online classes - Students will be able to access subjects created as separate teams on Microsoft Teams. In order to gain access, you will have to make use of your Office 365 credentials that were sent to you during your enrolment. Each student will receive an invitation through their Microsoft Outlook calendars that will include the Zoom ID to log into live sessions. In the subject team you will have access to presentations, short topic-related videos, translation of textbook into South African Sign Language videos, exercises and a digital copy of course material for the subject.

Video library - All live sessions will be recorded and students can access these recordings at any time on Microsoft Streams through their online Office 365 accounts. Our deaf students will also have access to these recorded live sessions with SASL interpretations of classes on Microsoft Streams
The schedule for full time students has already been uploaded on CANVAS before the start of the online classes on April 15, 2020, and is being updated with new subjects for the second quarter on a weekly basis. Additionally, the schedule for part time classes for the remainder of the year has also been uploaded. Please monitor this regularly by clicking on your class schedule on Canvas or the Belgium Campus team in Microsoft Teams.
The subjects that were suspended on March 16, 2020, will be re-scheduled during the last week of the second quarter. Students will also receive an extension to submit their final projects or assignments and write the summative test during this re- scheduled week.

If you have specific concerns about aspects of your programme of study, contact the Administrative Dean at kritzinger.t@belgiumcampus.ac.za
For technical and Office 365 credential related problems students should send an e- mail to support@belgiumcampus.ac.za, for other non-technical questions students can contact the administrative dean at kritzinger.t@belgiumcampus.ac.za.
All online classes will be recorded, edited and placed on Microsoft Streams which students will be able to access though their office 365 accounts. Our deaf students will also have access to these recorded live sessions with SASL interpretations of classes on Microsoft Streams.
Belgium Campus faculty members have been preparing online classes and assessments since the announcement by the Minister of the Department of Higher Education and Training on March 17, 2020. However, the process of shifting to online teaching and learning is not as easy as simple posting of a lecturer’s notes online or by making available a video recording of the lecture. We need the time to upgrade our learning material according to methodologies of professional online instructional design. Therefore, assignments and projects for the different subjects will for the time being only be available on MS Teams in synchrony with the class schedule.
Yes. All textbooks developed by BC ITversity lecturers are available in e-book format on MS Teams. Handouts used for some subjects are also available online through MS Teams. Students have received an invitation to download the e-books for their respective subjects.

Internships Section

Worldwide countries are putting measures in place to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the closure of educational institutions. This as a precaution even though there may be no known cases of COVID-19 on campus before the lockdown. In compliance with the Government Directives regarding the mitigation of the COVID-19 spread, BC ITversity is closed until further notice and has shifted to online teaching and learning activities.

We understand this may be causing disruption to your internship, e.g. internships or international programmes, or that you may have concerns about remaining in your place of work. Rest assured that for our students on work placement their safety and welfare remain at the forefront of our decision-making during this COVID-19 pandemic. You have three options: 1. you can stay working on site; 2. you can continue working from home; 3. your internship has to be cancelled.

Staying on site – In the unlikely event that your host employer has safe and conformant working arrangements and allows you to work on site, it is reasonable if you wish to continue doing so. Please follow your host employer’s guidance as the best course of action.

Working from home – Your host employer may offer you the opportunity to work remotely from home as an alternative for you to safely continue your role within the staff team and your workplace community. However, make sure you can meet all necessary requirements to work from home effectively (see section ‘Remote work FAQs’). Supervisors and students are asked to draw up plans for online supervision for the duration of this period.

Cancelling internship – If your internship cannot continue for operational reasons or because you consider that it is not safe for you to continue, then we may suspend the internship for reasons of realistic concern. The faculty will work with you to ensure alternative opportunities to attain the credits required to complete the academic year. It may not be clear at this time what exactly the alternatives will be since there may be complexities around the particular requirements of each student’s individual pathway. However, the faculty is working on alternatives and will notify and support individual cases as they arise.

BC ITversity students on work placement abroad are not required to remain abroad if they prefer, for reasons of realistic concern about COVID-19, to return home. However, as with any travel abroad, consideration should always be given to your personal circumstances and the evolving COVID-19 situation in many countries. Most importantly, being abroad we require you to adhere to the directives, instructions and/or advice in place locally to protect yourself from COVID-19 infection.

As part of BC ITversity’s ‘no-disadvantage’ approach, students on work placement will not be penalised as a consequence of changes that must be implemented. The faculty will put replacement teaching and learning activities in place in conformance with the exit level outcomes so that you can accumulate the total number of credits associated with the internship module (see also ‘Research/Project Student FAQs’).

If you do not know what to do when in doubt or in need of further assistance regarding your internship, please contact the Administrative Dean at kritzinger.t@belgiumcampus.ac.za.

LOCAL INTERNSHIP FAQ

In compliance with the Government Directives regarding the mitigation of the COVID-19 spread, BC ITversity is closed until further notice and has shifted to online teaching and learning activities. This has impacted BC ITversity’s internships in South Africa as well as abroad (see also section ‘International internships FAQs’).

Academic year 2020 - Students enrolled for experiential learning and currently completing Applied Information Technology during 2020 must do their in-service training over a period of 12 months. We advise all students to follow instructions from the host employer, whether it is to work on-site or from home. Your 12-month in-service training will be extended to compensate for this period if we need to do so. Consequently, if you continue with your in-service training into April 2021 you will not be charged again for the experiential learning year. You need to communicate this information to the supervisor that has been allocated to you.

In any case, make sure to inform your supervisor and the Administrative Dean (kritzinger.t@belgiumcampus.ac.za) of any practical arrangements you have to take or worries you may have. No student will suffer academic disadvantage as a result of having to change or cut short their internship placement as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Students can be assessed on internship activity to date and any remaining or alternative coursework related to the internship.

Academic year 2021 - In order to enrol for the experiential learning year a student may not have more than 15% of his/her credits (18 credits) outstanding. The students that currently qualify to enrol for their experiential learning year during 2021 will be invited to a team on Microsoft Teams in order to submit their CVs. Belgium Campus ITversity will be submitting these CVs and the latest academic records to the participating industry partners. We are in the process of arranging virtual career days for this year. More information in this regard will be communicated to qualifying students through this channel on Microsoft Teams in the future
Discuss your concerns with your host employer, as you may be able to negotiate an early end to your internship or perhaps arrange to work at home in ways that would still be beneficial to your course of study. For example, you may agree to stay on for a few more days so the employer can plan properly for appropriate, safe and reassuring changes in your work pattern.

If you remain concerned having spoken to your host employer, please do contact your internship supervisor and the Administrative Dean (kritzinger.t@belgiumcampus.ac.za) explaining your worries about health and wellbeing. The Administrative Dean will be happy to contact the employer to discuss measures that can safeguard your health and wellbeing and aim to deliver a meaningful internship experience, as far as it is possible.
In compliance with the Government directives regarding the mitigation of the COVID-19 spread, BC ITversity is closed until further notice and has shifted to online teaching and learning activities. As most organisations had to organise their activities in alternative ways, so your host employer may continue with similar or appropriate adjustments, depending on the nature of the organisation.

If your host employer put COVID-19 mitigation measures in place in the interest of safeguarding the health and wellbeing of their staff, all their BC ITversity students would be entitled to similar terms and conditions. Please follow your employer’s guidance as to the best course of action. However, if the internship cannot continue or you consider that it is not safe for you to continue, then you may suspend the internship. Please ensure that your supervisor and Administrative Dean (kritzinger.t@belgiumcampus.ac.za) of BC ITversity are informed of all details of the arrangements made.
In compliance with the Government directives regarding the mitigation of the COVID-19 spread, BC ITversity is closed until further notice and has shifted to online teaching and learning activities. Just as we are doing at BC ITversity, working remotely from home may be an alternative way for you to safely continue your role within the staff team and your workplace community (see also section ‘Research/Project Students FAQs’). Be sure you have facilities to be effective if working from home (see also section ‘Teaching, Learning & Examinations – General Impact FAQs’), discuss with your employer what resources or support may be required, and estimate how long this arrangement might last.

If you do agree to work from home, please do let your host employer know where you will be, especially if you are leaving rental accommodation and returning to a family home; so that they can stay in touch with you. Also, we ask you to inform your internship supervisor and the Administrative Dean (kritzinger.t@belgiumcampus.ac.za) with details of your amended arrangements. If at any time you find that the new working arrangements are challenging or difficult for you, make sure to inform your host employer and your internship supervisor and please contact the BC ITversity counselling service in the event you may need counselling. Contact details for the BC ITversity counselling service are: Alisha Narine - narine.a@belgiumcampus.ac.za; Zwonaka Netshikwati - netshikawi.z@belgiumcampus.ac.za or Dr. Gerard Steyn – steyn.gg@belgiumcampus.ac.za.

INTERNATIONAL INTERNSHIP FAQ

Following the World Health Organisation’s declaration of the COVID-19 situation as a worldwide pandemic and following the implementation of measures by many countries to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, educational institutions have been closed worldwide.

For good measure, BC ITversity is closed until further notice, in full compliance with the South African Government COVID-19 Directives announced on March 15th, March 18th and April 9th regarding respectively the state of emergency, the closure of all higher education institutions and the extension of the lockdown.

As for our students at home, safety and well-being of BC ITversity students currently on work placement abroad are and will remain at the forefront of our decision making. Therefore, compliant with the Government’s directives we strongly recommend that our international students return home to South Africa, ensuring they have access to appropriate support networks of family, relatives, friends and health care at home during this pandemic. However, as with any travel abroad, consideration should always be given to your personal circumstances and the evolving COVID-19 situation in many countries.

Staying in your host country - We understand that some international students may be unable to return home at this time due to factors such as travel restrictions, academic requirements, health reasons or other reasons which require them to remain on or proximate to their host institution.

If the host of your internship allows you and its employees to continue your work, on site or online, make sure to adhere rigorously to the local COVID-19 mitigation measures put in place to safeguard your health and wellbeing, e.g. isolation, testing or quarantine requirements, and you will need to rely on the local health system.

Also, we ask you to check your insurance cover since there may be clear consequences to your decision to stay abroad, not the least of all for any medical cover. Please, remain in close contact with family, friends and your local Embassy or Consulate.

Returning home – You are advised to consult the guidance of the local authorities in the country where you are based as local restrictions may be in place or planned as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please regularly check your email and the BC ITversity website for updates.

Organizing your return trip is dependent on several factors, i.e. 1. what is the advice of the South African Government (http://www.dirco.gov.za/); 2. what does your home embassy advice; 3. what is the situation in the country you are transiting through; 4. what is the situation with the airlines; 5. BC ITversity’s dedicated webpage for COVID-19, which include FAQs on travel. So, make sure to monitor all relevant information on travelling home. Information about the extent of COVID-19 spread in a country can be found on the website of the World Health Organisation (see ‘Travel FAQs’).

Where possible you should continue to engage with your host organisation abroad as they may continue to offer the opportunity to continue your work via online means as part of their contingency planning during this pandemic.

No academic disadvantage - Should your internship be changed or cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to reassure you that where possible we will make alternative arrangements allowing you to continue to engage with your programme or project work in BC ITversity by following the instructions regarding learning or working from home. Also, you will not be disadvantaged in terms of academic assessment.

Please, whatever your decision is, we ask that you to contact your supervisor as well as the Administrative Dean (kritzinger.t@belgiumcampus.ac.za) with the details of your arrangements
Following the announcement of the World Health Organisation’s declaration of the COVID-19 situation as a worldwide pandemic and the subsequent decision by the SA Government Directives to close all higher education institutions, BC ITversity was closed on March 16, 2020.

Consequently, all international student internships in South Africa and abroad are postponed until further notice, i.e. the lockdown is lifted, the campus is fully operational once again and travelling has been reinstated. We understand that this decision, based on the directives from the Government, will disappoint and inconvenience students and employers. The situation is regrettable but unfortunately necessary. Your safety and welfare are our highest priority and the decision was taken with this in mind.

Students due to go on internship - For students who are due to commence a work placement during the period of COVID-19 restrictions, your internship will not proceed at this time and your employer will be

advised accordingly by BC ITversity. If you have already been in contact with your prospective employer, it would be advisable that you inform the Administrative Dean (kritzinger.t@belgiumcampus.ac.za), your point of contact of this development, acknowledge the challenges this presents for the employer and thank them for the opportunity of this internship.

Please keep in mind that in order to enrol for the experiential learning year in the academic year 2021 a student may not have more than 15% of his/her credits (18 credits) outstanding. The students that currently qualify to enrol for their experiential learning year during 2021 will be invited to a team on Microsoft Teams in order to submit their CVs. Belgium Campus ITversity will be submitting these CVs and your latest academic records to our industry partners. We are in the process of arranging virtual career speaker events for this year. More information in this regard will be communicated to qualifying students through this channel on Microsoft Teams in the future.

Whilst it is not clear how long the Government’s COVID-restrictions will last, we anticipate that the situation may continue to evolve, including a phased return to the ‘new normal’. In the interest of forward planning, we confirm that the decision regarding future student internships will regularly be reviewed. Please, keep track of your emails and/or regularly check the updates on the BC ITversity website

EXAMINATIONS FAQ

Belgium Campus ITversity (BC) will run online examinations in June/July 2020 and we want to provide you with the flexibility and options that an online platform brings, while retaining the integrity of a supervised exam. There are several benefits this technology could provide to students, academic staff and to the university.
No, not all units have the online supervised exam option. The necessary information will be published so that you can contact your designated Academic Invigilator, where necessary.
BC will not be conducting seated classrooms examinations for semester one following government regulations to avoid large indoor gatherings. Instead, all exams will be provided as online supervised exams, with online exam invigilation provided. While it is expected that students will make every effort to sit for their exams online, BC is considering alternatives for exceptional cases where students can demonstrate that they are unable to access exams in this way.
You will need an internet connection which supports at least
  • Minimum Download Speed of around 1 Mbps
  • Minimum Upload Speed of around 1 Mbps
Plan to use a wired connection as wireless connections can be a little less reliable and to ensure your internet connection is not interrupted or slowed.
Most exams will be open for 2 hours, but BC will set an open and close date/time for the online exam and this may vary for each module. Since we are writing exams online, we will give you 15 minutes before the start of the exam and 30 minutes after the end of the exam to complete your two hour exam to allow for any technical issues that might occur. The same will apply to 3- or 4-hours exams.
The exam will only be available for a limited time. The same rules and regulations apply for a seated exam. After one hour, a student will not be allowed into the examinations. No extension after the 30 minutes grace at the end of the exam.
The Technical Invigilator can assist with technical issues you may experience with your connection to your exam session. Both the Zoom and Teams sessions will remain open and both the Academic Subject-specific Invigilators and the Technical Invigilators are on standby for any specific questions or problems for the duration of the examination.

The invigilators can delay the start of your exam or reschedule it while they help to resolve any issues if there is still enough time within the exam availability window. If they cannot resolve technical or other relevant issues, a submission can be made to the Examinations Commission, who will consider the submission.

If your internet connection is interrupted, you can contact the invigilator immediately to help you reconnect via the campus phone number making use of the phone number you provided to BC which is recorded in your profile on our system. Students must reach out to Academic Invigilator or Technical invigilators first via Zoom or Teams.

You can also log back into the system as soon as your internet connection is restored and click on the chat facility for assistance to re-establish your exam session and extended time will have to fit into the 30 minute window. If something does go wrong which cannot be resolved, we will escalate an incident and the details will be notified to the Examinations Commission.

We can apply our usual processes such as special consideration to assist in resolving the issue. We cannot stress how important it is that you check your equipment before you sit for your real exam online so that you can resolve any technical issues beforehand. Should you experience unforeseen issues in your exam, ask the exam invigilator for assistance or for them to escalate the issue to the Faculty in real time.
Your exam will first be marked by the system and moderated by your lecturer and your results will be provided in the same way and at the same time as sitting a seated exam.
BC can assist you with technical issues regarding your setup, setting up your profile or scheduling a session or any other issue related to sitting your exam under their invigilation through the Zoom and Team chats and failing those, as a final resort phone the campus who will put you through the either the Academic Invigilator of the Technical Invigilator.
If your exam is offered online, please ensure you read the information as it will be specific to your online exam, including when the exam will be held and any permitted materials or special instructions. To access your exam online you will be authenticated, and you will need the following:
  • speakers (usually built into your computer),
  • microphone
  • a reliable internet connection and
  • a suitable private space where you will not be interrupted
Before you sit your exam online, you need to check that your internet connection and computer can sustain an online exam. You will be able practice a few questions on Teams before the exam in a new designated group for the specific exams. You will added to a Team and there will be an open Zoom session for each exam as well.
You will need to provide ‘exam conditions’ in the space you choose to sit for your exam. This means conditions like what you would expect in an exam lecture hall. The room needs to be brightly lit, with no other people present and no interruptions. We suggest that you let your friends and family know that you are sitting for your exam and require a private, quiet space for the duration. Put a sign on your door asking people to come back later and turn your voicemail on.

Unless your exam is ‘open book’, your workspace should be free of papers, books and sticky notes and your walls should be clear of any documents or materials which may be relevant to the exam. Remove anything on your desk that is not related to your exam. Your mobile phone, smart watch or other devices should be turned off or put away. To ensure your internet connection is not interrupted or slowed, ask other people in your house not to watch Netflix or download large files while you are sitting for your exam.
For your exams, you will need to use a laptop or desktop computer which meets the technical requirements. In exceptional cases, certain mobile devices, tablets, iPads and phones will be supported.
You will need a microphone and speakers to join Teams or Zoom sessions. BC will ensure that the Academic Invigilator and the Technical Invigilator are available for the duration of the exam. Therefore, we recommend a constant connection. Having audio also makes it easier for your invigilator to communicate with you and assist you during the authentication and login process or in case of any technical issues.
When you are late for an exam and the exam availability window is still open, it may be possible to reschedule your start time at a slightly later time. If you have missed it completely, then it would be viewed in the same way as not attending a seated exam and no marks are awarded. If you have evidence for not being able to attend your exam, you may be eligible to apply for a supplementary exam, subject to the circumstances having been considered by the Examinations Commission.
On the day of your exam, you need to log into Zoom prior to the exam start time, around 10 – 15 minutes before the scheduled examination time.

Once connected, the invigilator will confirm your ID in the Zoom meeting against the list of students authorised to sit for the specific exam. When you log in with your username and password, we accept that the correct students have logged in.

You will be required to accept and sign the pop-up terms and conditions before you will be allowed to start. Once you start your exam, BC will continue to monitor certain data points on your computer. For online exams, the same security measures applicable to seated exams as per the BC standard rules and regulations apply.

Your invigilator may communicate a 5 to 10 minutes recorded session with you during your exam via the Zoom/Teams chat boxes in the event that something has changed. You are required to alert the exam invigilator when you have finished your exam and clicked the “Save” button. Your work will be saved on the exam server. Any questions that have been saved after the cut off time of the exam, can be referred to the review process. After the review process, if not saved correctly, the Examinations Commission will consider review requests on a case by case basis. To ensure any technical issues are sorted out before your exam, make sure you have checked your hardware and internet connection beforehand and if you are going to write using a mobile connection ensure you have sufficient data available.
If you wish to discuss how you will write your exam in the online space, feel free to contact your lecturer well in advance.

Online Technical Support is available via the Zoom session when you have posted your ID or via the Teams session. In an emergency, the campus can be contacted directly and either the Academic or the Technical Invigilator will assist.
There are several integrity measures to ensure students’ identity on entry to the exam, as well as making sure that the access of unauthorised materials or communication with others are monitored. A pop-up will inform you that your computer will be monitored and will check that you do not have any cloned or duplicated devices and that you are not running any unauthorised software. You must remove any unauthorised materials, mobile phones, and other people from your workspace before you start. Once your exam has started, BC will continue to monitor your progress. BC will also be able to assist you with any technical issues you may experience.

Mental Health

Being positive and motivated is one way to assist your mental health, especially with great uncertainty at this time. Acknowledge and accept your feelings. Talk to someone you trust.
Yes, there is a difference for some is it is living with a large amount of people in one household and others not seeing their loved ones. New dress codes and the restriction on movement are some of many adjustments that must be made. See the guideline on mental health in terms of how to adjust to the new lifestyle.
Taking one day at a time and step by step actions are best the solutions for this difficult time. Being content with yourself and your environment is one way of being mentally prepared. This is discussed further in the guidelines.

Physical Health

YouTube exercise videos and practice them in a good and safe environment. This also assists positively in your mental well-being. You can also download fitness Apps to stay fit and keep track of your progress. This is usually the best option. Set an hour a day to keep yourself physically healthy.
Refer to the guideline on what is healthy. Staying physically, mentally and socially healthy is very important as this is the “whole sum of the body” which contributes to a successful individual.
Yes, it is especially during this time. Self-care has not been so important as how it is at this moment. There has been large emphasis on self-care by the HPCSA (Health Professional Council of South Africa) and the PsySAA (Psychological Society of South Africa). Stress and anxiety levels increase and leaving one feeling overwhelmed. Do something that you enjoy for at least one hour a day or once a week depending on your schedule but make time for yourself.

Social health

By making use of online platform as this is a great opportunity to explore the IT world and not feel alone. Set up dates and time to have a casual chat with a loved one. Use Zoom, skype, WhatsApp video or call.
Yes, it is, being in touch with your external and internal world is important. Knowing what is happening around you is essential to one’s sanity. Keeping up with the times and the general news of what is happening in the world of today is important.
This is a new learning curve for many students out there. Adjusting to online classes, having chores and responsibilities to do makes it quite difficult to achieve your academic goals. Structure and time management is a skill that is required. Speak to your loved ones in sharing the activities/chores and maintain privacy while you are working on your academic career. Further is discussed in the guidelines.

Academics

“refers to the responsible use of technology by anyone who uses computers, the Internet, and digital devices to engage with society on any level” (https://www.aeseducation.com/blog/what-is-digital-citizenship). Please also look at our infographic on digital citizenship on our website at the following link https://www.belgiumcampus.ac.za/Students-Return-to-Campus.html
Refer to the guideline provided in detail. Avoid distractions (Internally and externally), be in a safe, comfortable space. Start your day early, like how you would normally. Have a timetable or routine to your day.
Studies have shown that being in a comfortable and safe space affects your academics results positively. Your environment contributes to your thinking patterns and behaviour thus results in how much effort you put in your work. For example: if you have an environment which is healthy, spacious and safe, you enjoy working there thus being productive comparing to a space where it is uncomfortable, noisy and full of distractions, results will be influenced negatively.


If you have any further queries please feel free to Contact Us