Welcome to the University of Cape Town News
27 January 2024
UCT has approximately 29 000 students who study across six academic faculties: Commerce, Engineering & the Built Environment, Health Sciences, Humanities, Law and Science. These faculties are supported in their teaching and learning by the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED). Here are some interesting facts on each.
With over 6 700 students, Commerce offers several undergraduate specialisations, including accounting, actuarial science, computer science, economics, finance, information systems, law, management studies, marketing, organisational psychology, quantitative finance and statistical sciences.
The faculty is home to seven departments and 14 research groups.
The faculty is home to two free multilingual learning tools aimed at helping students understand key concepts and terms in their home language:
EcoDoc: a translation app that provides access to over 10 000 economics terms and definitions in South Africa’s 11 official languages.
Learn Accounting: a website designed to help students understand crucial financial and accounting concepts.
The UCT Graduate School of Business Executive MBA (EMBA) programme has been ranked 96th in the world in the Financial Times EMBA rankings 2023.
With nearly 5 000 students, state-of the-art facilities and world-renowned teaching staff, the faculty is home to architects, urban planners, landscape architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, land surveyors, GIS specialists, and property and construction managers.
EBE is proud of its 63 National Research Foundation-rated staff members, not to mention its 20 active accredited research groups, covering African urbanism, fuel cells, minerals, biomedical engineering, robotics, alternative energy and more.
The Menzi Design Laboratory is a space for students and researchers to transform their ideas into prototypes and intellectual property, and ultimately take them into production.
In a novel transdisciplinary project, researchers in electrical engineering are using robotics and artificial intelligence to monitor the health status of wildlife – a game-changer for the fields of ecology and conservation management in South Africa.
The S+CUBE team in the Department of Construction Economics and Management collaborates with local experts across the architectural, engineering, energy and humanities disciplines to design national net-zero sustainable innovative affordable net-zero houses for different climatic zones in South Africa.
In the 2023 annual QS World University Rankings engineering and technology tied at 270th spot.
The oldest medical school in sub-Saharan Africa (established in 1912), the Faculty of Health Sciences has around 2 600 staff members and over 4 000 students (2 000 undergraduates and 2 500 postgraduates). It’s considered a centre of excellence in teaching, learning and research for health professionals and scientists with a strong reputation for having trained some of the best health practitioners and scientists globally, and for our clinical achievements and cutting-edge research across health disciplines.
With 13 academic departments comprising 106 divisions, the faculty is committed to responding to the health challenges facing South Africa and the continent, with the vision of achieving social justice and health equity.
Of the 81 accredited research units at UCT, 33 are in the Faculty of Health Sciences.
The top-rated health sciences faculty on the continent, ranked among the top 100 globally in medicine, and clinical and health, according to the QS World University Rankings 2023 by Subject and Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject respectively.
High numbers of UCT’s National Research Foundation A-rated researchers.
Having four out of the top 10 inventors by patents granted at UCT.
With close to 7 000 students, this faculty comprises 19 academic departments, located in three main clusters: the Arts, the Social Sciences and the Performing and Creative Arts.
The largest faculty at UCT with 15 research centres and institutes offering 30 academic majors as well as the opportunity to choose from 21 majors offered through other faculties.
The faculty has produced several world-renowned graduates, including Breyten Breytenbach (author), Philip Miller (international composer and sound artist), Roger Ebert (Pulitzer Prize winner), Richard E Grant (actor), Pretty Yende (opera singer), Akin Omotoso (filmmaker) and two Nobel Prize winners – Emeritus Professor JM Coetzee (Literature) and Ralph Bunche (Peace).
The present faculty was formed in 1999 following a merger of the faculties of Arts, Social Sciences, Education, Music and the Michaelis School of Fine Art.
The faculty’s education and social sciences programmes were ranked 92nd and 100th respectively with arts and humanities tying at 192nd position by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023 by subject.
The faculty is home to over 80 National Research Foundation (NRF)-rated researchers and four South African Chairs Initiative (SARChI) Chairs.
In 2023 Professor Abulkader Tayob from the Department of Religious Studies received the NRF’s Hamilton Naki Award, which honours individuals for advancing their careers in science and achieving world-class research performance despite considerable challenges.
The Faculty of Law is made up of more than 1 400 students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and 165 staff members. In 2023 the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings by Subject ranked law in the top 200 in the world.
The faculty is the oldest and smallest faculty at UCT. Organised into three departments – Public Law, Private Law and Commercial Law – it is home to world-class research units that provide the bridge between academic endeavour and social responsiveness. The faculty has two community-serving law clinics, one of which is focused on refugee rights.
To support students financially, the faculty runs a funding campaign – Excellence in Law – and contributes around R2 million to student support each year from its endowment fund. This is in addition to a range of scholarships offered.
The faculty has a range of international agreements that enable students and staff to pursue exchanges and research relationships in Australia, Canada, Ethiopia, Europe, Kenya, the UK and the USA.
Students and alumni from the faculty work across the globe, contributing excellence to the legal profession, the development of law, and research in the field.
The first National Research Foundation chair in humanities was given to the Law faculty, which is now home to two National Research Foundation (NRF) South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) Chairs.
A 2023 Gaopalelwe Mathiba, 26, became the faculty’s youngest doctoral degree holder in the past 11 years.
The faculty’s academic staff are among South Africa’s leading public intellectuals.
With almost 3 000 students, the Faculty of Science continues to contribute to globally relevant research. This includes, but is not limited to, African climate and development, biodiversity, chemistry and biology for health in Africa, marine biology, southern skies and the evolving universe, and human evolution.
The faculty is made up of 12 departments, including archaeology, astronomy, biological sciences, chemistry, computer sciences, environmental and geographical sciences, geological sciences, mathematics and applied mathematics, molecular and cell biology, oceanography, physics and statistical sciences.
The Faculty of Science is placed in the 51–100 range for Geography, and in the 101–150 band of top universities in Archaeology, Earth and Marine Sciences, Geology and Geophysics according to the 2023 QS World University Rankings by Subject.
Two alumni from the Department of Physics have won Nobel prizes: Alan McCormack won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1979 for the development of computer-assisted tomography, and Aaron Klug won the 1982 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for crystallographic electron microscopy.
Over a third of the university’s annual PhD graduates hail from the Faculty of Science.
CHED is a transversal faculty that works with the other faculties and many units across campus to continually improve access to and quality of higher education, promote excellence through equity, develop curricula in partnership with faculties, support the professionalisation of teaching staff, help students to make informed choices for career planning and readiness for the world of work, and enable systemic improvement through research-led development of informed policies.
CHED comprises several entities that collectively contribute to achieving its goals. These include:
the Academic Development Programme (ADP) – including the Numeracy Centre and the Language Development Group
the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT)
the UCT Careers Service
the Centre for Educational Assessment (CEA)
the Hasso Plattner School of Design Thinking (d-school).
Of CHED’s total budget, half of its income is from externally generated revenue: foundations, corporations, donors, governments grants and external sales.
CHED’s total complement of staff is roughly divided equally between professional, administrative, support and service (PASS) staff and academic staff. All of these staff members contribute to UCT’s core busines through professional services, such as educational technology, data analytics, career advice, graduate recruitment and employer partnerships.
CHED’s service, including its teaching are underpinned by decades of research in key areas such as academic literacy, educational technology, testing, curriculum, numeracy and multilingualism.