FAQs for all postgraduates

FAQs for international postgraduates



Communication from UCT

  • Do the general UCT executive messages (VC and DVC Desks) apply to me?

    Yes, the VC and DVC Desks are addressed to the entire research community, of which postgraduates are an important cohort.  However, keep in mind that references made to teaching in these communications may refer broadly to both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, unless specifically indicated. For postgraduates doing coursework-based degrees, we expect you to pay careful attention to communication from your course convenors for information about your specific courses. Similarly, supervisors and postgraduate students must continue to communicate with each other where the degree programme entails research projects/dissertations.

    Keep an eye on this page for latest communication from the UCT executive.


Registration & Re-registration

  • How do I register or re-register for my studies in 2021?

    Here is the key information you need (incl. timelines) for registration. Each faculty has a different registration process, so make sure you click on the faculty that is associated with the postgraduate degree for which you intend to register.

    Keep in mind that communication will always be sent to your official UCT student email account.

  • Who do I contact if I get stuck completing registration?

  • If I have submitted a technical fee waiver form for lockdown-related reasons do I need to pay fees again at re-registration?

    If students have submitted an ACA54 form requesting a Technical fee waiver due to COVID lockdown reasons, and it is approved, the fees will be reversed on thesis/dissertation submission (assuming it’s within 6 months after 15 March 2021, meaning the fees are waivered for 6 months preceding thesis submission).

    If a student has an approved ACA54 and does not physically pay his/her fees levied, s/he will not owe anything even though his/her fee statement will indicate a balance owing, if they hand in within 6 months after 15 March 2021.

  • Will I be penalised for not paying university fees by the due date even though I have submitted an ACA54 form?

    Any penalties that may be reflected in UCT’s PeopleSoft system of students who do not pay the fees levied will be reversed up to the amount of adjusted fees. For example, if fees are adjusted to 75%, only penalties for the 75% adjusted fee on thesis submission will be reversed.

  • How does the technical fee waiver affect my residential fees?

    The technical fee waiver has nothing to do with UCT residential fees which would be charged, and students would need to pay. Technical fee waivers only refer to UCT tuition fees.


Research concerns

  • I am a Masters/PhD student. Is there a new deadline for me to submit my research dissertation for examination during this time?

    Masters and PhD students may submit their research dissertations for examination at any time – as per normal faculty expectations and processes.

  • I have already submitted my dissertation, but my examination has been delayed due to COVID-19. How does this affect my registration?

    If submitted and examination is incomplete, and/or corrections are being undertaken beyond March 15th,2021, students do not need to re-register, and fees are not levied.

  • What if I receive feedback of my examination after March 15th and I have to do revision and re-submit my dissertation?

    If the student’s dissertation has been examined and a revision and re-submission is undertaken, and the student’s dissertation is submitted late (i.e. after March 15th), the student will need to re-register, and a 6-month fee waiver may be requested using these guidelines.

  • Will I be required to pay the re-registration fee even though the delay is due to COVID-19?

    If a student/supervisor can sufficiently motivate that COVID-19 is the reason for the delay, a 6-month technical fee waiver may be allowed as per these guidelines.

  • My submission/examination is delayed by circumstances not due to COVID-19. How does this affect my registration and/or fees?

    In previous cases, where a 6-month fee waiver was requested, the student retained the approved ACA54 (Technical fee waiver request form) and continued paying fees for the duration of their registration. This is still the case. The waiver will only be processed on submission to waive the fee for the last 6 months of registration. Where the student has paid the fee in advance, a credit will be passed.

  • Will I continue to receive supervision during this time?

    Yes, supervisors are encouraged to continue actively with their supervision, taking into account that any deadlines for submissions/drafts must be reasonable and realistic, and the limitations and delays that may result from a student’s access to data, wifi, research material, experimentation, revised academic calendars and other direct impacts of COVID-19. However, we are aware that some supervisors are working at the front-line of the COVID-19 pandemic and will have restrictions on their time, which will impact the supervision that you receive during this time.

  • What if I cannot stick to the timeline that I’ve committed to in my MOU?

    We recognise that this is a huge concern to many postgraduates. The impact of the lockdown will differ depending on the nature of your project and your personal circumstances, such as living situation and connectivity. We recommend that postgraduates and supervisors engage on the timelines outlined in your MOU and come up with a plan on how to go forward, taking into account the latest iteration of the revised academic calendar outlined in the latest announcement from this recent DVC Desk.

  • What happens to the ethical clearance I’ve been granted before the COVID-19 pandemic?

    If your project changes substantially, your ethics clearance will need to be reconsidered; this should be discussed with your supervisor and follow your faculty procedures. Please check whether your ethics clearance is time-limited and whether an extension is needed.

    The Faculty of Health Sciences at UCT has issued the following guidance on:

    • animal research, click here

    • human subject research, click here

    If your concerns fall outside these guidelines, please direct your query to your faculty ethics committee administrator/chair, who will be able to help.

    For general queries around ethics, contact Paula Saner.

  • How can I continue with my literature review project if the library is closed?

    UCT Libraries are open as virtual libraries and are restricted to electronic sources during the lockdown, which covers many journal and other titles. They are also buying electronic versions of requested books/journal articles where possible and negotiating access to further materials in the academic libraries of sister institutions. You can find more information here. Students needing specific titles that appear unavailable or undownloadable should email their subject librarians or the general libraries contact.

  • How do I submit my thesis during the COVID-19 pandemic?

    This process will be conducted online. Faculty postgraduate staff and the Doctoral Degrees Board are working remotely but can facilitate submissions, so there should be no impediment to the process.


Mental health

  • How do I manage my mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic?

    As a result of the global outbreak of COVID-19, many of us are struggling to adjust to what will be our “new normal” for the foreseeable future: social distancing (but social solidarity), self-isolation and quarantine. If all of this is making you feel anxious or down – you are not alone. This article provides some tips and advice for how to manage your mental health, including contact details for UCT’s support services. 


Data and internet access 

  • I don’t have access to a computer or laptop from home. What can I do?

    UCT has a plan in place to distribute laptops to as many students in need in South Africa as possible. As you will understand, due to both cost and availability, UCT cannot distribute computers to all the students who do not have devices (including those who had them but lost them through theft or an accident). For this reason, it was necessary to develop criteria and special conditions for allocating the limited number of computers that are available. The overarching criteria should be financial need, and we have developed criteria that prioritise South African postgraduate and undergraduate students (and in some cases tutors) who qualify for financial aid or GAP funding. In order to qualify for a laptop on loan from UCT you are required to complete the student access survey. It is critical that you complete this survey first so that we fully understand your situation with respect to connectivity and working environment.

  •  I don’t have enough data to continue working from home. What can I do?

    As reported in this DVC Desk, there is currently work being done at a national level with telecommunication companies to get students and postgraduates access to South African-hosted websites, including all educational sites, for as long as they are unable to work on campus. So far Cell C and Telkom have both agreed to the request to zero-rate access to certain UCT websites. UCT has called on the remaining two cellphone providers to support this call, which comes not just from UCT but from across the higher education sector (read more in this media statement).  However, this is unlikely to provide our researchers with the facilities needed for data-intensive research, for which a different plan will have to be made. We encourage you to use UCT’s virtual private network (VPN) where possible to access and operate systems on campus, all of which are running. Data transfer can then be managed in the normal way using the underlying systems via the access granted by the VPN. ICTS support service includes recommendations on how to manage your data usage so that you don’t exceed your limit.

  • I have poor internet connection. What can I do about it?

    First, use our toolkit to ensure you have the necessary ICT services in place to continue working off campus. If you still have issues, ICTS support services remain operational throughout the national lockdown, so you can continue to log calls via the IT Helpdesk online, via email or by phone 021 650 4500.

  • If my supervisor buys data for me, will I have to refund them?

    There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question: you will need to discuss it with your supervisor. We recommend you establish the terms of such an agreement in writing at the outset so that there is a clear understanding of this arrangement. 

  • How many hours am I expected to study each week online?

    This will vary depending on your personal circumstances. We suggest you discuss this with your supervisor and outline what is feasible for you given your current living arrangements. If you don’t have a supervisor, you should contact your course convenor or head of department.

  • How do I get access to the software I need from home?

    UCT pays for a number of software packages to be used under site licences. This means that you are allowed to use the software for as long as you are a student at UCT. You are entitled to a number of site-licensed software packages; this include research support software (such as EndNote and Nvivo), statistical software (such as Statistica and SPSS), productivity software (Office 365), accessibility software (Read&Write) and more. For more info, visit the software for students webpage. In cases where you need a specific specialist package or platform that is not available through these general site licences, please discuss with your supervisor or course convenor.


Fees and funding

  • What happens if I cannot finish my degree in 2020 as required by my scholarship agreement?

    We are engaging with funding agencies, both as a university and as a sector through Universities South Africa (USAf). However, we anticipate that not all funders will automatically grant further/extension funding beyond the original tenure of your degree. It is therefore critical to try, as far as it is possible, to complete your degree within your original or slightly extended timelines. However, we are aware that for some of you it is very challenging or even impossible for you to work remotely for a variety of reasons, and we will do what we can to help. Each case will be dealt with separately to determine whether an extension will be granted and how funding/fees will be handled.

  • Will my scholarship funding carry over or be extended to 2021 if I cannot continue or complete my research this year?

    The Postgraduate Funding Office does not have a definitive answer at this point. However, they will try to be as flexible as possible given the current situation, and work in line with funder rules. Please understand that different funders have different rules and approaches and so each case will need to be dealt with separately.

  • Will bursary payments still be paid out on time?

    Yes. Note that award processing and claiming procedures remain intact, although operations have been altered to take into account remote staff operations. Email the Postgraduate Funding Office if you have additional queries.

  • I rely on funding given to NRF-rated researchers. Typically this funding cannot be rolled over to the following year; might this restriction fall away because of the pandemic?

    The university is seeking clarity on this from the NRF but it would be prudent not to count on a rollover of the funding allowance: try, as far as is possible and within the context of working remotely and your personal circumstances, to complete your degree within your original or slightly extended timelines.


Six-month fee waiver (if your research has been delayed by the lockdown)

  • My submission/examination for 2021 might be delayed due to COVID-19 and I might miss the March 15th deadline. What are the measures that have been put in place to assist students in this regard?

    Council has approved a concession for master’s and PhD students whose research has been delayed because of lockdown.

    The concession is in the form of a technical fee waiver, on motivation by supervisor and student, for a period of up to six months, as the final 6 months of registration. Where approved, this will be processed as a ‘technical fee waiver’.

    For delayed students expecting to submit at the end of 2020 or in the first semester of 2021, this fee waiver will be requested for 2021.

    While the fee waiver will only be processed retrospectively when the students submit their thesis/dissertation, students may apply for approval in advance. Such advance approval will give students peace of mind that the fees will be waived when they finally submit their work for examination.

  • Who qualifies to apply for the fee waiver?

    Only Master’s and PhD students whose submissions/examinations have been affected/delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and this may lead to submissions or examinations taking place after the March 15th deadline.

  • How do I apply for the fee waiver?

    Please follow this 6-step procedure.


    • It must be clear that the lockdown delayed the research (e.g., no access to human subjects, lab, fieldwork, or that the supervisor was unavailable, etc.)
    • Download the ACA54 form (refer to step 1) here
  • My Master’s/PhD only started in 2020, the year in which the lockdown occurred. Can I also apply for the fee waiver?

    For students who began their master’s or PhD studies in 2020, the fee waiver may be requested in 2022 (Master’s and PhD) or 2023/4 (PhD only).

    While the fee waiver will only be processed retrospectively when the students submit. Students may apply for approval in advance.

  • Where can I submit the ACA54 form?

    The ACA54 form and motivation must be sent to the Deans’ nominee for approval. The Deans’ nominee will consider and inform the supervisor and student of the decision (by return of form). This is a Council decision allowing the decision on the delay to lie with the Dean’s nominee. No approval from the Executive Director (Finance) is required for this special concession.

  • Am I expected to continue paying university fees during the lockdown while I wait for a response regarding the waiver?

    Yes. The student retains the approved ACA54 and continues paying fees for the duration of their registration. The waiver will only be processed on submission to waive the fee for the last 6 months of registration. Where the student had paid the fee in advance, this has to be declared on the ACA54 form, and a credit will be passed. If the fee was settled as a FISB (Faculty International Student Bursary), the student should not be getting the waiver in their account.

  • How do I submit my dissertation after the deadline of March 15th?

    When the student submits the thesis or dissertation for examination, the ACA54 form must be presented to the Faculty Manager or nominee for processing.

    The Faculty Manager or nominee will check the completeness of the form, as well as the funding the student may have received before sending to the Fees Office (with a copy to the Postgraduate Funding Office (PGFO)). The UCT Fees Office will then process the waiver.



  • What will happen with graduation?

    Please consult the campus FAQ page for information on how graduation will be affected.

  • How do I get proof that I have graduated if the actual ceremony didn't take place?

    The Registrar’s Office will send details to graduands about how they can receive their graduation certificates.

  • Due to COVID-19, there was no graduation ceremony in Winter (June) 2020, will there be a Summer (December) graduation ceremony?

    Yes. Due to the delayed 2020 academic year caused by the national lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a small virtual graduation session on Tuesday, 15 December 2020. with the main graduation session taking place in June/July 2021.

    For more information on the Virtual December 2020 graduation please visit this link: https://www.news.uct.ac.za/article/-2020-12-01-virtual-december-2020-graduation

  • What do I need in order to graduate?

    For the June/July 2021 graduation:

    All students The June/July graduation list closes on 28 April 2021. This is the final date for qualifier status to be on the system, after Faculty Examination Committees and DDB have met.

    Research students Submission of dissertation/thesis to have been preceded by the intention to submit in November/December 2020 (i.e. the recommendation is 5 months before the deadline for qualification entry to allow for delays in examination. It is possible that submissions after this date are examined in time for the 28 April 2021 deadline).

  • How will I know if I qualify to graduate?

    Check your qualifier status on Peoplesoft self-service. Also check that your full name, programme, any distinctions and all other details are correct. Please refer any queries regarding the above to your faculty postgraduate office.

  • How will I gain access to the graduation ceremony?

    Receiving Invitations
    Invitations will be sent out to those who qualify to graduate. It is thus important that you note and adhere to the closing dates, which will be enforced in all cases. This means that to be invited to graduation, you must be a qualifier on the date the list closes and the invitations are issued.

    Receiving automatic letter of qualification
    In late-January 2021 and late-February 2021, an automatic system-generated letter of qualification, which may be used for job-seeking purposes etc., will be sent out to students who qualify when results are decided in January and February for the award of their qualifications. Graduates may use this same letter to gain access to the June/July 2021 graduation session.

    The letter, which will be sent to your student email address, will indicate the confer date in the June/July 2021 graduation session, which should not be confused with the graduation date. UCT’s student system records one confer date per session which means that we use the first date of the session for all students and all qualifications. The actual date on which a student graduates will differ. The dates of the various ceremonies will be published on the web by March 2021.

  • What is the difference between the confer date and the graduation date?

    Confer date
    The confer date is the date in which the degree is conferred (acquired/awarded) and may be the same or different from the graduation date.

    Graduation date
    The graduation date is the date in which the student graduates at a graduation ceremony and may be the same or different from the confer date.

  • What will happen if I am unable to attend my graduation ceremony?

    Graduates who are unable to attend their graduation ceremony will graduate in absentia. Students may arrange for collection or request a degree certificate and transcript to be delivered to them via courier.

  • I was not able to attend my graduation on the day I was supposed to graduate. Can I attend on a different date?

    No. Graduates who missed their graduation dates will not be allowed to attend a subsequent graduation ceremony.



Visa applications

  • UPDATED I am still in South Africa and my visa has expired. What should I do?

    The Department of Home Affairs has advised that legally issued visas which expired during the lockdown period from 15 February 2020 onward are deemed valid until 31 March 2021. Holders of legally issued visas, who remained in South Africa throughout the lockdown period are permitted to remain in the country under the conditions of their visa until 31 March 2021 as directed in the Disaster Management Act (ACT NO. 57 OF 2002): Measures to prevent and combat the spread of COVID -19 Government Gazette 44072.

    *If you continue to remain in South Africa, we advise that you renew your expired visa through the Visa Facilitation Service (VFS). More information on the guidelines for renewal can be found here.
    The VFS centres are observing recommended health and safety measures. More information can be found here.

  • UPDATED My study visa is expiring. How do I apply for a renewal?

    Applications made from outside of South Africa, kindly check the relevant South African Mission Abroad and/or Visa Facilitation centre website for updates on operations.
    *Each country is subject to their lockdown regulations in relation to the prevailing context concerning the pandemic. Certain lockdown restrictions may result in a suspension of services from South African Missions Abroad, particularly the issuing of visas.

    Applications made from inside of South Africa must be processed via the Visa Facilitation Service (VFS). More information on the guidelines for renewal can be found here.
    The VFS centres are observing recommended health and safety measures. More information can be found here.

    *The VFS and Department of Home Affairs (DoHA) is receiving and processing high volumes of visa applications, respectively. The DoHA is required to suspend their services each time a positive covid-19 case is reported, therefore, impacting on processing times and service delivery.

  • UPDATED I am continuing my studies at UCT. Can IAPO issue me with a letter of undertaking to renew my study visa? What is required to obtain this letter?

    The following attachments are required with your form submission:

    • Letter from your enrolling UCT faculty office or academic supervisor, confirming the continuation of your studies and support for the extension of your study visa. The letter must specify the expected end date of your studies.
    • Copy of current visa page and passport bio page

    The visa renewal form (DHA-1739) is completed online when you submit your online VFS application.

  • UPDATED I am a new student at UCT applying for a new study visa. How do I receive a letter of undertaking to apply for a study visa?

    The letter of undertaking is system generated. It is released after the conditional/firm study offer is issued from the faculty office to which you applied for a study place. We advise that you check your email(including the spam/junk folder) for the study offer and letter of undertaking. The letter of undertaking will be sent from noreply@uct.ac.za and the subject header is Letter of Undertaking for Visa.

    The body of the email communication guides you with information on the visa application, tuition fees, medical aid, housing, and relevant term dates. The letter of undertaking will be attached to this email and will be coded UCTB84.pdf

  • UPDATED My current visa is expiring/has expired, will I face any penalty for the late visa renewal?

    If you hold a temporary residence visa that expired/ expiring from 15 February 2020, you will not be required to submit a Form 20 for good cause; giving reason for being in South Africa on an expired visa. You will not be declared an illegal or prohibited person. Holders of legally issued visas are permitted to remain in the country under the conditions of their visas until 31 March 2021 as directed in the Disaster Management Act (ACT NO. 57 OF 2002): Measures to prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19 Government Gazette 44072.

    *Kindly check question 2 for visa renewal requirements and Visa Facilitation Service for more information.

  • I applied for my visa renewal; my appointment to submit my documents was during the lockdown period; what do I do?

    Visa Facilitation Centres in South Africa resumed visa services on 22 September 2020. You should reschedule your appointment for the soonest available date.

  • UPDATED I submitted my visa renewal application before the lockdown, my application is still pending; will I be allowed to stay in South Africa while waiting?

    If you submitted your visa renewal application in South Africa before the lockdown and you have not received an outcome, we advise that you follow up with the VFS to track the status of your application. If your visa expired during the time that your renewal application was pending you are permitted to remain in South Africa under the conditions of your visa (e.g. study, work or critical skills) while waiting for the outcome of your visa renewal application.

  • I missed my visa renewal appointment due to lockdown; my medical and radiological reports are now older than 6-months, can I still use them to apply for my visa renewal?

    Expired medical and radiological reports are not acceptable. You would need new medical and radiological reports, in light of COVID 19 these documents are now most important.

  • UPDATED Can I travel to South Africa, are the borders open?

    Travel is permitted provided you have a valid visa for South Africa and have adhered to the government health and safety protocols. Short-term visits of 90-days or less will not be permitted.
    According to the Department of Co-operative Governance, Government Notice No. 44066Subsection 42 (2): Closure of Borders … all land ports of entry of the Republic are closed until 15 February 2021. …except for ports of entry designated by the Cabinet member responsible for home affairs issuing directions (c) the return of a-

    • (i) South African national:
    • (ii) permanent resident to the Republic:
    • (iii) person with a long -term residence visa [including study visa, long-term visitors’ visas, critical skills];
    • (iv) spouse with a visa;
    • (v) child or children with visas:
    • (vi) person with a work visa; and
    • (vii) holder of a business visa,

    …(4) (a) International air travel is restricted to the following airports-

    • (i) OR Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg);
    • (ii) King Shaka International Airport (Durban);
    • (iii) Cape Town International Airport and is permitted subject to the traveller providing a valid certificate of a negative COVID -19 test which was obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel.

    The Substitution of regulation allows visitors from any country entry into South Africa provided they follow health and safety guidelines as directed in the Disaster Management Act (ACT NO. 57 OF 2002): Measures to prevent and combat the spread of COVID -19.

    Kindly contact the South African embassy in your country for guidance on visa and travel requirements. A list of South African missions abroad is available here: www.dirco.gov.za/webmissions/index.html
    ** Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) Health and Safety travel protocols:

    What are the health protocols when travelling to South Africa?

    Travellers visiting the country will be expected to abide by the mandatory regulations which include wearing of face masks and practising social distancing in public spaces, regularly washing or sanitising of hands and presenting a valid certificate of a negative COVID -19 test which was obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel.

    What are the requirements for the 72-hour PCR test for COVID-19?
    Travellers intending to visit the country will be expected to produce a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test which was obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel; the test result must be presented before travelling to South Africa. This test must be conducted by a certified medical practitioner or pathology lab, the results should have the name and signature of the practitioner who conducted the test.

    What are the requirements for travel to South Africa by air?
    According to the Department of Co-operative Governance, Government Notice No. 44066 – Subsection 42 …(4) (a) International air travel is restricted to the following airports-
    (i) OR Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg);
    (ii) King Shaka International Airport (Durban);
    (iii) Cape Town International Airport

    All travellers landing at these airports must present a PCR test which is not older than 72 hours from the time of departure from the country of origin to South Africa. Furthermore, the international travellers should possess travel insurance which covers the PCR or COVID-19 test (if they need to re-test) and quarantine costs. All travellers will be subjected to COVID-19 screening on arrival and if they present any symptoms of the virus which include elevated body temperatures and flu-like symptoms, they will be required to re-test. Travellers who test positive for the virus will be required to self-quarantine for the minimum required period. The cost of the re-test and self-quarantine will be for the travellers account or covered by their travel insurance.

    What is COVID-Alert APP and how can I download it?
    The COVID-Alert APP facilitates contract tracing to alert subscribers if they have been in contact with any person who has tested positive for the virus and by so doing, aims to minimise the risk of spreading the virus. We request all international travellers to South Africa download the APP to help monitor and minimise their risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus. The APP can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for Apple and Android devices, respectively.

  • UPDATED I am in South Africa on a Lesotho/Zimbabwean Special Permit which has expired; what do I do?

    A Special Permit lawfully issued in terms of section 31(2)(b) of the Immigration Act, 2002 (Act No. 13 of 2002) which has expired is deemed to have been extended until 31 March 2021.

    ** Services to extend Lesotho Exemption Permits and Zimbabwean Exemptions Permits resumed as from 1 October 2020 as directed in Government Gazette 43749

  • UPDATED I am an asylum seeker or have refugee status and my permit has expired, what do I do?

    All permits/visa issued to refugees and asylum seekers are deemed valid until 31 March 2021. All the rights, benefits and obligations of asylum seekers and refugees remain the same. The refugee and asylum seeker permit’s that expired during lockdown will not be subject to any penalties.

    The Refugee Reception Centres closed at the commencement of lockdown period and will remain closed until the Republic of South Africa declarers them open.

    All stakeholders, refugees, and asylum seekers will be notified when the Refugee Reception Centres are declared open.

    *Regularly check the Refugee Centre website for updates on operations: http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/contact-us/24-refugee-centres

  • Will I face any penalties or be deemed undesirable if I travel home on an expired visa?

    Those who opt to return to their countries of origin or residence after Republic of South Africa’s National State of Disaster and lockdown instead of renewing their visa in the Republic before 31 March 2021 will not be declared undesirable on departure. * The validity period for visas which expired while in South Africa was recently extended to 31 March 2021 as noted in the Government Notice No. 44066.

  • My country's borders have closed, and I am still in South Africa – what do I do?

    We recommend that you renew your visa via the Visa Facilitation Services centre or contact your Embassy/ Consulate in South Africa to seek guidance on how to return to your home country. If you opt to return home with an expired visa while the Republic of South Africa is still in a National State of Disaster you will not be penalised or declared undesirable on departure.

  • I am on a work visa registered for part-time studies. I want to change to a study visa, what is the process?

    An application for change of visa status i.e. a different visa category is not allowed. To apply for a different visa category you will be required to travel back home and submit your visa application from your home country.

  • I have been studying at a different institution in South Africa. I received an offer for UCT and need to change my visa so that it is endorsed for study at UCT. What do I do?

    You must apply for a change of visa condition so that your visa is endorsed for study at UCT. You cannot pre-register and register without a study visa endorsed for UCT.

  • I am International student who returned to my home country before lockdown. Do I require a letter of permission to return to South Africa?

    Provided you can depart from your country of residence and have a valid visa for South Africa you will be able to return. You will be required to adhere to our government regulations for international travel and arrival in South Africa in terms of COVID-19 testing, travel insurance and self-quarantine. See protocols directed by Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) concerning covid-19 testing and medical cover in the event of infection. Refer to Sub-section 8.1 – 8.5 for detailed information. If the immigration official requests further information to facilitate entry to South Africa, it is recommended that you present your study offer or relevant communication from the UCT Executive on return to campus. Should you require further assistance, write to iapo@uct.ac.za

  • UPDATED When will UCT students be allowed back onto the university’s campus?

    The university is operating according to their COVID-19 framework for staff and students. The university will operate as a low-density campus in the first semester of 2021. Undergraduate teaching and learning as well as research will use both asynchronous and synchronous online activities (asynchronous activities can be accessed at any time, while synchronous activities will require participants to attend according to a specific schedule); face-to-face teaching of small groups in COVID-compliant venues under physically distanced learning conditions; and physically distanced research activities in low-density labs, studios and workshops will operate on a rotation basis, to reduce the number of people in each space at any time.

    For postgraduates, the mode of operation will depend on the nature of the programme, the number of students in the programme. Laboratory, studio, seminar and group work will run on a roster basis to help maintain physical distancing. Fieldwork and internships will be set up to comply with both the needs of the programme and health protocols. Guidelines for fieldwork under COVID-19 conditions are available.

  • I am an international student/researcher who is abroad when South Africa went into lock down (whether in my own country or another), how do I renew my visa?

    Once services resume, you will need to apply for a new visa from the South Africa Mission or Embassy in the country where you are currently residing. Regularly check Embassy websites for updates on operations. Refer to question 2 for visa renewal guidelines.

    A list of South African Missions Abroad is available here: www.dirco.gov.za/webmissions/index.html.

  • I travelled home at the start of lockdown, is my current visa endorsed for UCT still considered valid?

    Legally issued visas for South Africa, which have not yet expired are still considered valid.

  • UPDATED Am I allowed to return to UCT campus and student housing?

    UCT residences will open on:

    • 25 February 2021 for postgraduate students
    • 1 March 2021 for new and returning undergraduate students.

    Every student coming into the UCT residence system will need to stay in quarantine in their room for the first seven days after arrival. This is to ensure that any student coming into residence who may be carrying the COVID-19 virus does not spread it to other students and staff members and cause a localised hotspot. To limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, UCT is organising single-room residence accommodation and a ‘safe arrival’ quarantine period. If students become a close contact of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, we will follow the ‘close contact quarantine period’ as prescribed by the Department of Health.

    Contact Student Housing: res@uct.ac.za

    Students will be informed about what documentation they will need to carry to be allowed on campus in 2021.

    While UCT remains an open campus, access points are limited to allow our Campus Protection Services to screen everyone who visits the university, as part of our health and safety precautions.

Registration & Pre-registration

  • What is pre-registration?

    Pre-registration is a fee and visa clearance process that takes place in person. All international students and researchers registered at UCT must be pre-registered prior to registration.

  • How do I pre-register?

    Pre-registration will only be processed online through UCT’s PeopleSoft Student Administration Self Service via service requests (SR). More information is available here.

    Important note: It is no longer possible to complete pre-registration via email. Requests received via email will be re-directed to submit a SR to complete this process.

  • What documents are required for pre-registration? 

    You will need the following:

    1. a passport containing a valid permit for studies at UCT (i.e. a study visa) and an entry stamp (received at the port of entry upon arrival)
    2. proof of South African medical aid cover (the medical aid must be registered with the Council of South African Medical Schemes). The duration of cover must be for the full year of study (i.e. until 31 December). This requirement is specific for holders of study visas.
    3. proof of payment of fees or sponsorship
    4. photocopies of all the above.
  • I am in South Africa, how do I pre-register during lockdown?

    We will facilitate remote pre-registration during the lockdown period. Pre-registration is a visa and fee clearance process that must be completed prior to registration. Only once both visa and fee clearance holds are lifted from your student profile, will you be able to register. For assistance with pre-registration, please provide us with the following:

    For visa clearance, write to prereg@uct.ac.za with original certified copies of the following:

    1. Passport bio page
    2. Visa page
    3. Proof of medical aid from a South African medical aid scheme – if you are a holder of a study visa
    4. Confirmation from your UCT faculty office that they will process the remote registration, once you have been pre-registered

    For fees clearance, write to iapo-finance@uct.ac.za with proof of payment of bursary/award letter. You will be notified once you have been pre-registered and cleared for registration.

    Note: We are currently working remotely. Once our offices re-open at the university campus students who travel to South Africa for their studies will be required to bring their actual passport containing their visa to the UCT International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO) for verification and capturing. IAPO is situated on level 3 in the Masingene Building on Middle Campus, Cross Campus Road, Rondebosch, Cape Town.

  • I received an offer to study; however, I am not able to travel to South Africa as I am from a high-risk country. I need to register, what do I do?

    As an international student/researcher, in order to be registered, you need to pre-register first. This is a visa and fee clearance process which must be completed prior to registration. Only once both visa and fee clearance holds are lifted from your student profile, will you be able to register. For help with pre- registration, you need to obtain visa and fees clearance:

    For visa clearance, write to prereg@uct.ac.za with original certified copies of the following:
    1.    passport bio page
    2.    visa page
    3.    confirmation from your UCT faculty office that they will process the remote registration, once you have been pre-registered.

    For fees clearance, write to iapo-finance@uct.ac.za with proof of payment of bursary/award letter or the proof of payment receipt issued by the bank.

    You will be notified once you have been pre-registered and cleared for registration.

    Note: Once the travel bans related to the COVID-19 pandemic have lifted, and you can travel to South Africa, and the IAPO office re-opens, you will be required to bring:
    1.    Passport bio page
    2.    Study visa
    3.    Entry stamp
    4.    Visa entry stamp
    5.    Medical aid, with a provider registered with the Council of South African Medical Schemes
    6.    Copies of all the above.

    IAPO is situated on level 3 in the Masingene Building on Middle Campus, Cross Campus Road, Rondebosch, Cape Town.

  • I am conducting my research in my home country and not required to be in South Africa; how can I pre-register and register?

    We can facilitate remote pre-registration. Pre-registration is a visa and fee clearance process that must be completed before registration. If you are not completing your studies in South Africa in 2020, you are not required to have a study visa.

    For pre-registration, write to prereg@uct.ac.za with the following:

    1.    Passport bio page
    2.    Letter from your academic department and/or supervisor (on a letterhead), confirming that you will be completing your studies outside of South Africa. The letter should include your full name(s) and surname; student number; programme information and duration of studies
    3.    Proof of fee payment.

    You will be notified once you have been pre-registered and cleared for registration.

  • I am in South Africa, my visa expired. Can I pre-register and register? 

    All visas and Permits that expired after 15 February 2020 to 31 January 2021 are considered valid under the Disaster Management Act (ACT NO. 57 OF 2002): measures to prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19. You will be permitted to pre-register and register if your visa expired after 15 February 2020. You will be expected to meet all other pre-registration requirements as indicated in Question 27 for the pre-registration requirements.

    You are expected to renew your visa as Visa Facilitation Service (VFS) and the Department of Home Affairs resumed visa operations on 22 September 2020 and can receive visa applications.


  • How does the technical fee waiver affect pre-registration?

    The ACA54 (Technical fee waiver form) does not remove or change any pre-registration requirements for international students.


Medical aid cover

  • I have left South Africa because of COVID-19. Can I get a refund on my medical aid from Momentum Health?

    Full-degree students who have returned temporarily to their home countries because of the pandemic will not be eligible for a refund for the period they are out of the country. Medical aid schemes for students are structured to run over the duration of the study visa and residence in South Africa, rather than being products that can be switched on and off for short periods of time. You will be covered by your medical aid scheme for emergency cover for 180 days while out of South Africa. Further information can be found here (select Lifestyle benefits for more detail).

  • Will my medical aid cover the COVID-19 test which is a requirement for return to South Africa?

    We cannot account for all medical schemes as the benefits vary for each schemes’ health plan. Kindly check with your medical provider. Momentum Health medical scheme will cover the COVID-19 test (i.e. PCR test) for students who intend to travel back to South Africa to resume their studies from here.