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Undergraduate Services

What services do IAPO and UCT offer to international undergraduate students?

The International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO) seeks to be the first port of call for all international students. To this extent we seek to complement the services provided by other faculties and departments and have strong relations with service providers within and outside UCT.

The following are some of the key services offered to international undergraduate students:

General support

IAPO provides wide-ranging support services to international students. Any international student in need of advice or support while at UCT is encouraged to contact the International Academic Programmes Office for assistance.

This includes general enquiries from prospective students, advice on the safety of the area you wish to stay in, the appropriateness of working while in South Africa, application for study permit, general advice about your stay at UCT, etc.

Should we not be able to assist you, we will refer you to the relevant service provider on or off-campus. To this end, our full-degree international student assistants can be consulted during normal working hours from 08h30 to16h30 Monday to Thursday, and 08h30 to16h00 on Friday.

An emergency number is available to assist you if needed. The emergency number is: 076 346 2397 (Emergencies ONLY).

IAPO's process of services to international undergraduate students is broadly divided into three phases.

Application phase

This is when a student is applying to study at UCT. During this time a student will mostly interact with IAPO's prospective undergraduate student advisor / International Student Advisor, Nosizwe who will generally guide you to the relevant people you should be speaking to regarding your application

During the process of applying to UCT, students will go through a number of steps to enable them to obtain an academic place to study at UCT. During this process students will generally be in contact with the admissions department, an office which receives and handles applications to UCT. Students generally have a lot of questions to ask when coming to do an undergraduate degree at the university. These relate to acceptance by the faculty, applying for a study permit, finding places to stay, etc.

Click here for some frequently asked questions and answers.

If you have questions with regard to career choices in life, you can contact the careers services at

Transitional phase

The transitional phase starts when you have been accepted for studies at UCT. Some of the issues that relate to coming to UCT are getting a study permit, obtaining a matriculation board certificate, transport to UCT, information about Cape Town, etc

Leaving one's home country for another country can be a scary experience. Once you arrive at UCT, the international full degree team will provide you with an orientation programme to support you through what may be a confusing and daunting time.

Orientation is a university-wide process. Academic faculties, residences and support departments such as the Department of Student Affairs host a variety of activities aimed at welcoming you to UCT and making you feel part of the university community. It is important for students to attend these orientation activities. Our orientation is conducted with the help of fellow students who are orientation leaders, who will help you with information you need to know about Cape Town, UCT faculties, staying on and off campus, etc. They are a friendly group of both South African and international student leaders who have been trained to assist new students.


As part of your transition to UCT, you will also have to book transport for getting to UCT. Some airlines provide student discounts. We encourage our students to use this service. The mode of transport in Cape Town is generally minibus taxis, buses and trains. The minibus taxis are the easiest to hop on, as they run throughout the working hours in a day, while the buses and trains have timetables.

For bus times you can visit and for a train service you can go to MetroRail.

Pre- registration

To ensure a smooth academic registration, the International Academic Programmes Office runs a pre-registration service to assist both faculties and international students. The pre-registration service is a process aimed at making sure that a student has all the necessary requirements to register at UCT.

During this process we will check whether a student has a valid study permit for UCT, has paid all the necessary fees, has any difficulties with registering and settling in, etc. Once we are satisfied that the requirements are being met, we will clear the student, who will then be eligible for registration.


UCT has its own campus accommodation for students, for which all students in need of accommodation at UCT must apply. The application form which every student completes to get an academic place at UCT contains a section where the student can apply for accommodation. Unfortunately UCT cannot place every student into a residence, as it only has just over 5 000 spaces for students.

Those students who are not offered accommodation on campus or who prefer to stay off-campus are advised to obtain a place through our off-campus accommodation bureau, which advertises places offered by outside landlords. Please visit the Off-Campus Student Accommodation Services. In the residences at UCT there are house committees which see to the needs of residence students. They organise all the activities that relate to residence students. UCT has recently formed a day house for students who are not in a UCT residence. This has a committee called Omega-zita which oversees all the interests of off-campus students.

Study permits and Home-Affairs-related issues

All international students are required to have a study permit which must be valid at all times. IAPO gives general advice on any matter related to your study permit and any other issue pertaining to your status in South Africa. Application forms for study permit renewals can also be obtained from the IAPO offices. For information on study permits click here.

Medical aid

IAPO assists students with enquiries and communication with medical aid providers. Application forms for medical aid can be obtained from the IAPO offices.

To visit the websites of different medical aid providers, please visit this link.

Integration phase

Once a student has registered and starts to attend classes, IAPO has a variety of activities to assist with integration and make your stay at UCT truly fulfilling.

Day-to-day consultations

IAPO has an open-door policy. This means that you can come and visit our offices at any time during office hours when you need to talk to someone. Sometimes you will miss home and will want to talk to someone to get advice on various issues. We are here for you. If we are not able to assist with any questions that you might have, we will gladly refer you to the correct person in or outside UCT.

Please click on the following links for further information on student life and services at UCT: