Dear colleagues and students
Stellenbosch University (SU) undertook the compulsory risk assessment prescribed by the Consolidated Directions on Occupational Health and Safety in Certain Workplaces (Government Notice No. R 499 in Government Gazette No. 44700 of 11 June 2021) to amongst others determine the risk of COVID-19 transmission and the risk of severe coronavirus disease at the University.
Taking into account the specific circumstances and the operational requirements of the University, the assessment found that the risk of transmission and the risk of severe COVID-19 at the University is high, amongst others due to the fact that SU, as a residential university, requires staff, students and service providers to be on campus for face-to-face academic, research, social, administrative and support purposes.
Given the risks identified during the risk assessment, and after consultation with legal counsel, SU's Management concluded that it needs to make a COVID-19 vaccination rule for staff, students and other identified persons. The University owes a legal duty to its staff to provide a safe work environment, and to its students to provide a safe learning environment.
On 28 November 2021, President Cyril Ramaphosa reminded South Africans in his national address that in the fight against the pandemic, “the first, the most powerful, tool we have is vaccination" and added that Government has appointed a task team to consult on “making vaccination mandatory for specific activities and locations". SU management believes that as a residential university its campuses are such locations where activity requires a vaccine rule.
The University therefore intends to publish a vaccination rule requiring students and staff to provide proof of vaccination as a condition to register or to remain registered as a student, and to govern the employment of staff members. The rule will also require certain other identified persons to provide proof of vaccination to gain access to campus and SU premises.
A draft vaccination rule is currently being considered by the University's management, after which it will follow a process of internal and public consultation. Upon the completion of the internal and public consultation process, the draft rule, revised as necessary, will be presented to the relevant SU institutional bodies and finally to Council to consider and approve.
Given the time required for the public consultation process and to allow persons to become fully vaccinated, the rule, if approved by Council, will in all probability become effective at the start of the second quarter of 2022. Returning and new students should take note of this intention, since the intended rule, if approved by the SU Council, will affect their registration status in 2022 from the second quarter onwards.
Staff and students are urged to get vaccinated as soon as possible and not wait until the rule becomes effective. You can access a vaccine at SU's Lentelus vaccination site in Hammanshand Road, Stellenbosch or at any other vaccination site closer to your home.
Please consult the University's homepage for the latest news and announcements, including a dedicated COVID-19 page and COVID-19 vaccinations page with a section providing answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs).
Prof Wim de Villiers
Rector and Vice-Chancellor