Lending a helping hand

27 January 2023
Student support
Photo Lerato Maduna.

At the University of Cape Town (UCT) we are committed to supporting our students from their first year to graduation. While your time at university can be the best years of your life, you do sometimes need a little help along the way. To make you a part of our community, we’ve made a wide range of services available to you.

The Department of Student Affairs (DSA) oversees student support services and activities that seek to affirm the humanity of each individual student to help them to flourish. The DSA aims to embody kindness and compassion to facilitate student well-being, social justice and academic success.

The DSA’s support services and activities include Student Accommodation and Residence Life; Student Wellness Service; Financial Aid; Student Governance; Student Life, Sports and Recreation; and Student Orientation. In providing these support services and activities, the DSA collaborates with other professional and support departments, including UCT’s faculties.

Contact details for the various sections are available on the website.

Your first year

The First-Year Experience (FYE) is a collective, campus-wide ethos and initiative to help first-year students transition successfully into university life. This involves multiple staff members from across the university who work to help you navigate this new space, manage your academic journey and develop a strong sense of belonging at UCT.

The FYE prioritises an integrated and holistic approach to student development, linking initiatives that respond to your academic, social and material needs.

Level 5
Huriǂoaxa (Hoerikwaggo) Building
Upper Campus
021 650 4072
Dr Danny Fontaine-Rainen
Visit the CHED website for more about FYE.

Where to get advice

The Student Orientation and Advocacy Service (SOAS) is there to help you settle into university life. The SOAS deals with all student needs, including helping you find your way around campus; providing access to brochures, handbooks and pamphlets; and offering advice and referrals to services offered by various departments and facilities.

Room 2.01
Level 2
Computer Science Building
(Cissie Gool Plaza)
Upper Campus
021 650 5082
Send us an email.


While UCT has an array of services to help you navigate life at the institution, you don’t always know who to contact when you’re in need, particularly in moments of distress.

The UCT Central Advising and Referral Services (UCT CARES) is there to provide you with a central point of contact for the information and services you need.

Send your queries to us and a CARES agent will either respond with the relevant, general information or they will refer you to the relevant department.

You can also send your queries to the UCT CARES faculty nodes – Commerce, Engineering & the Built Environment, Science, and Law.

You can also connect directly to the UCT CARES Chatbot by adding 087 240 6965 to your WhatsApp contacts, and type “Hi” to start chatting.

Student accessing information online
Photo Getty Images.

An inclusive UCT

The Office for Inclusivity & Change (OIC) offers a range of support services to ensure that the university is accessible and inclusive to all:

  • removing physical, policy, information and attitudinal barriers that prevent disabled members of UCT from fulfilling their potential
  • supporting survivors of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and all forms of discrimination and marginalisation
  • providing case management advice and support to respondents, mediation services, training and awareness raising
  • working with course convenors to develop and implement curricula that improve the personal and professional development of students
  • ensuring equal access to administrative, academic and support services for all students and staff
  • facilitating important student interactions to contribute towards building inclusion at UCT.

The Cottage
Lovers’ Walk
Lower Campus
021 650 2767
Cheryl Vallay
Visit the OIC website.

Careers Service

Been accepted into your degree of first choice but unsure what your related career options are? Unhappy with the degree you have chosen? Or maybe you were accepted into a degree that was not your first choice? Our career development consultants can help!

First-years: To book a virtual or phone appointment email us at careers.service@uct.ac.za or phone 021 650 2497/8. Or access MyCareer, a portal exclusively for UCT students. There you can book attendance at career events, download resources or search for vac work and internships.

Returning students: Connect with us via MyCareer.

Visit the Careers Service website.

Lending a financial hand

UCT believes that no academically deserving and financially needy student should be excluded from pursuing a degree due to a lack of financial support. Therefore, the university has reserved funds for financial aid packages to support eligible students, and works with several external stakeholders who provide similar assistance through bursary programmes.

The Student Financial Aid office can be contacted as follows:

021 650 3545
Send us an email.
Visit our website.

Welcoming international students

UCT is a truly diverse university and welcomes students from all over the world. The International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO) facilitates and promotes all facets of internationalisation and ensures that UCT is the preferred study destination for international students.

IAPO acts as the central coordinator and facilitator of all initiatives and activities related to international students, offering guidance on accommodation, study permit applications and more.

Read more about IAPO’s orientation for international students.

International Academic Programmes Office
021 650 2822/3740
Send us an email.

Office of the Ombud

The Office of the Ombud provides a safe space for students and staff to discuss issues that may be experienced as unfair – including dispute resolution. If you feel stuck after you have attempted to have an issue resolved within the university structures and by going through the appropriate university processes, the Office of the Ombud is available as an office of last resort. The Office also offers a space to discuss options within the university structure confidentially and off the record.

While the Office of the Ombud functions independently, it reports to Council and has access to the university’s senior leadership. Within this structure, the Office applies a high degree of confidentiality, neutrality, informality and independence. Since visits to and discussions with the Ombud’s office are strictly confidential, the Office will not disclose or keep any records that could identify individuals.

For further information see the Office’s Terms of Reference.

Lovers’ Walk Extension
Lower Campus
021 650 3665
Send us an email.
Visit our website.

Living on campus

We provide a range of student housing options for undergraduate and postgraduate students, both on and off campus. Here’s what’s on offer:

  1. First tier – for undergraduate students under the age of 21. These residences provide three meals a day in dining halls and offer self-operating laundries and a communal television space.
  2. Second tier – for senior undergraduates and postgraduates. These residences provide three meals a day in dining halls. Most second-tier accommodation comes in the form of two- to four-bedroom flats and all rooms are single.
  3. Third tier – strictly for senior postgraduates. Most units are within walking distance of upper campus or close to UCT Shuttle stops, and retailers and public transport routes are nearby.

All these structures ensure that the quality of the living and learning environment is enhanced during orientation and for the rest of the year. This is fundamental to promoting a culture of student success. These structures are, among others, the residence wardens, assistant wardens and sub-wardens. The House Committees exist and function to oversee the needs and interests of students in relation to their academic and social well-being. Residence mentors and tutors also play a critical role in providing the necessary support. Each residence also has a housing tribunal to ensure that the behaviour of students reflects the ethos of the university. Students must engage these structures to assist them with overcoming any and all challenges that deter the ultimate objective of success.

The DSA will be able to answer all your questions about residences and other student housing options.

Masingene Building, Middle Campus
021 650 2977
Email us.
Visit our website.

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