Whether it’s helping you prepare for your arrival, settling in and making new friends, or discovering the wealth of experiences that UCT has to offer, we’re here to support you in settling into campus life.
Each semester, before teaching begins, the International Office offers an orientation programme to welcome new international students. The programme consists of fun activities and useful information sessions to help acquaint you with UCT and Cape Town. You will learn about UCT student support services, receive academic advice and have an opportunity to begin making new friends.
Course enrolment and registration begin during Orientation. Once you’ve registered, you’ll be issued with your UCT student card giving you access to all student facilities including UCT Libraries, the wifi network (eduroam), Sports Centre and gym facilities. You’ll also be able to take the Jammie Shuttle free student transportation service.
Before you can register for your academic programme of study, or enrol in any courses, you must be cleared by the International Office through a process known as pre-registration.
Pre-registration is a requirement under the South African Immigration Act. It is an immigration and fee clearance process to verify and then capture your passport, visa, medical aid and tuition fee payment information. Once successfully pre-registered, you are cleared to proceed to registration and course enrolment with the relevant faculty administration office.
We will send you details about how to pre-register. Please prepare in advance and ensure you have the following documents:
Students with refugee or asylum seeker status are exempt from the passport, visa, and medical aid submission requirement, but must have a valid refugee and/or asylum seeker permit.
1. On Arrival at the airport
Submit your flight information and we will arrange transfer from the airport to your accommodation in Cape Town.
UCT staff will meet you at the airport and help with any issues you may have encountered on touching down before driving you into town.
Cape Town International Airport is approximately 15km/10miles from UCT and the journey takes around 15-20 minutes outside of busy periods.
To make your own way into town, use a metered taxi, pre-arranged ride-share or myCiti bus. Ask at the airport information desk where you can find these services.
You should only use recognised and registered public transport companies. Do not take rides from private taxi touts.
2. Power and plugs
South Africa uses 220/240V 15 amp power. The main power outlet type is ‘M’ type but ‘C’ type plugs work with an adaptor. You can buy adaptors at the airport or in local shops.
The local currency in South Africa is the Rand (ZAR). You can exchange your currency for Rands on arrival at the airport. Foreign currency exchange services are also available at local banks.
If you travel with your credit card, please notify your bank of your travel plans so your card is not registered as stolen or blocked for out-of-country transactions. If you have an account at home which is linked to the CIRRUS system you will be able to withdraw cash at South African ATMs (automated teller machines) bearing the CIRRUS signs. There are ATMs available on UCT’s Upper Campus and in the shopping areas surrounding Lower campus and Hiddingh campus.
Many students decide to open a bank account while in South Africa so that they are more easily able to pay for their accommodation and other expenses without incurring bank charges for international wire transfers. Once you have arrived and registered at UCT as a student on a study visa, you will be able to open a student account at any of the South African banks. Please visit one of the local branches, taking your passport and student card, and speak to one of their consultants.
Should you need to send or receive money from oversees, consider using MoneyGram.
4. Health and safety in Cape Town
All large cities can be unsafe, and Cape Town is no exception. View more information on safety at UCT.
We’ll cover safety and security during Orientation. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to be vigilant and ensure your personal safety and to avoid risky situations for yourself and your group. A list of emergency numbers is included in the UCT Orientation welcome packs.
Enter the IAPO REFERRAL number into your phone (+27 76 346 2397 from outside of South Africa and 076 346 2397 from within South Africa) and call for help in the event of a critical incident.
Don’t forget to enter all the details provided by your medical aid scheme into your mobile phone so that you have them with you at all times.
Please be aware that South Africa has a high incidence of HIV and AIDS (approximately 25% of men and women). Please behave appropriately and responsibly – your health and safety are your responsibility.
5. Weather in Cape Town and on campus
Cape Town’s weather is changeable. Most buildings are not centrally heated or cooled. Rainproof jackets are advisable for the wet winter season from May to August (average temperatures – low 3°C/38°F; high 15°C/59°F). Hats and sunscreen are advisable for the summer season October to March (average temperatures – low 15°C/59°F; High 30°C/86°F).
Look at Cape Town’s weather here to get some idea of what to pack for the time period you will be in Cape Town.
6. Getting to know your way around UCT and Cape Town
The University is located in a beautiful area in the Cape Peninsula - on the slopes of Table Mountain, with panoramic views and easy access to the city of Cape Town.
South Africa’s history makes Cape Town a very interesting cultural tourism city. If you want to explore and understand South Africa’s past, there are a number of organised tours that will take you into the Bo-Kaap (the Malay Quarter), District Six, Langa, Gugulethu and Khayelitsha. Or take a trip to Robben Island from the V&A Waterfront and visit Table Mountain on the cable car.
7. Students with physical or learning disabilities who may require extra time
Students with physical or learning disabilities which affect performance under test or examination conditions may qualify for specified accommodations or an extra time concession. Contact us for advice in accessing this service. There are specific application requirements and submission timelines to apply to be considered for special concessions. Make sure to write to us in good time to receive the relevant information. To contact Disability Service directly, write to: email@example.com
8. UCT Clubs and societies
UCT has over 100 student clubs and societies reflecting a wide range of interests from academic, religious and cultural to social and political activities and a variety of sports or outdoor activities.
9. Internationalisation at home
Throughout the year IAPO collaborates with the Student Representative Council, international student societies and different departments within the university to organise a variety of activities geared towards making incoming international students’ experiences at UCT as enriching as possible. These programmes promote diversity and have a strong cultural element to foster internationalisation and social integration.
Celebrations and debates that bring local and international students together are arranged to mark certain days such as Africa Day in May or Heritage Day in September. We also offer a variety of other activities such as pre-First Thursday hangouts (see more about First Thursdays here) and student dialogues around key topical issues. Find out about our recent Africa Day celebrations here.
International full degree and visiting students are encouraged to engage with local students and enjoy all the activities that UCT and Cape Town have to offer. There are more than 100 student societies and organisations at UCT reflecting a wide range of interests, including academic, religious, cultural, social and political activities.
To keep informed about IAPO, UCT and other issues of interest, please ask the full degree team to include you on their mailing lists.
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