As an international student, you’ll be joining a diverse community of nearly 4000 other internationals registered at Africa’s premier research university. Our caring and helpful staff are here to guide you through the process of preparing for your arrival in Cape Town and settling into campus life. Four-to-six weeks before the expected arrival date you will be invited to a Pre-departure Orientation event hosted online where we will provide you with information on being a UCT student, how to connect with us, visas & immigration, fees, orientation, housing support and so much more.
Once you receive a firm or conditional study offer here are some brief next steps to guide you.
Accept your study offer
To accept your study offer, log into the UCT Self-Service Portal using your UCT student number and password. If you have forgotten what these are, check your offer letter and follow the prompts to reset your password. Continue to monitor the UCT Self-Service portal regularly for updates to your application status and check your email for any new communication that we may send you.
Apply for your study visa
Applying for a study visa can take between 8-to12 weeks or longer, particularly when there is high demand (when many students are applying for a visa) or at the end of the year when many embassies and consulates close for the holidays. We recommend you apply as soon as you accept your study offer to avoid processing delays. You can apply for a study visa with a conditional study offer. We recommend that you visit the website for the South African Mission Abroad (Embassy or Consulate) issuing visas for South Africa in the country where you reside, to obtain a list of requirements for your visa application.
Those who hold Permanent Residence, Asylum Seeker, and Refugee permits for South Africa can register with valid and certified copies of these documents, you will not be required to apply for a study visa.
Purchase medical aid cover
If you are applying for a study visa you will be required to purchase medical aid from a South Africa medical aid scheme registered with the Council for Medical Aid Schemes as this is a visa requirement.
Your medical aid cover should be valid for the full duration of your study visa validity period and renewed annually for each year of study and residence in South Africa.
Note: Even if you are already in possession of international medical aid cover, you will not be permitted to register at UCT if you are not covered by a medical aid scheme registered with the South African Council for Medical Aid Schemes.
For competitively priced South African medical aid schemes, we recommend CompCare or Momentum, here is a guide for more details on what they offer: Medical Aid Cover Guide.
Check your UCT fees
Tuition fees are charged per course at UCT. Learn more about the Fees structure here. To generate your own proforma invoice of the full tuition fees for the year and other expected costs, visit: publicaccess.uct.ac.za.
UCT has partnered with Flywire for international full degree students to pay for their tuition and accommodation fees. Another preferred method of payment via credit card. Additional payment options can be found here.
An initial minimum payment of your tuition fees and accommodation (if housed through the UCT Student Housing Department) will be required by a specific date before you may register for your UCT courses.
Find suitable accommodation in Cape Town
If you have applied for accommodation through UCT Student Housing when you submitted your application for admission, you will receive direct correspondence on the status of your student housing application. If you need to follow up, please contact the Student Housing Department at firstname.lastname@example.org to determine whether they have available space in the on-campus residences, or the Off Campus Accommodation Service at email@example.com for available accommodation off-campus.
If you have not yet enquired with the Student Housing Department and require assistance, visit our Accommodation page for more information.
1. Personal Insurance
In addition to mandatory medical aid, we strongly recommend that you purchase additional personal insurance. UCT does not provide personal insurance cover. You should consider insurance policies that cover you for the loss of personal items such as phones, laptops and cameras, as well as travel insurance for lost luggage or having to rebook your ticket.
We recommend that you bring an adequate supply of any prescription medicines you regularly take, as ingredients in medications sometimes vary from one country to another. Keep medication in the original containers. Please declare any illnesses/allergies and special needs when you submit your online application form to UCT.
3. Mobiles / cell phones
Check with your cell phone / mobile provider about whether your phone will work in South Africa, and what the charges are for international roaming.
If you are in South Africa for some time, we recommend you buy a South African sim card for easy access to the local mobile phone networks, including toll-free numbers. Sim cards are available at the airport or local retail outlets including supermarkets
4. On arrival at the airport and bus terminals
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.
- Sport Taxis: Phone +27 21 447 4444. Whatsapp: +27 83 254 1455
- Excite Taxis: Phone +27 (0)21 448 4444
- UniCab: Phone +27 (0)86 136 7222
- Bolt (Taxify)
You should only use recognised and registered public transport companies. Do not take rides from private taxi touts.
5. 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.
7. 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.
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.
8. 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.
9. 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.