Say what?

27 January 2024
UCT Lingo
Photo Lerato Maduna.

As your University of Cape Town (UCT) experience begins, new words will become part of your everyday language. Here is a guide to help you understand a few unfamiliar terms as you settle in.

Amathuba is UCT’s new digital learning platform, supporting face-to-face teaching and learning and offering a wide range of features in an attractive, modern, and engaging user interface. It’s replacing Vula – but if you’re a first-year undergraduate student in 2024, your courses should all be on Amathuba from day one. Amathuba is where you’ll find everything you need to know about your courses, and more.

The Cissie Gool Café next to Cissie Gool Plaza – great for cheap, good food.

A unit of study that gets you credit towards your degree.

Campus Protection Services takes care of UCT’s safety and security.

A combination of courses that make up your degree programme.

Duly performed – if you get a DP for a course, you can write the exams.

Duly performed refused. This means you can’t write exams.

The head of a faculty.

Early assessment
A formal check to see how you’re doing in your first weeks at varsity.

Extended Degree Programmes give you extra time and support to complete your degree.

A network that provides free Wi-Fi to higher education institutions, including UCT campuses.

A group of academic departments. UCT has six.

First-class pass
When you get over 75% for academic work. An upper second is 70–74%; a lower second is 60–69%; and a third is 50–59%. An S means you failed.

First lecture
The day’s earliest lecture, and where you’ll find yourself at 08:00 if you’re a first-year.

Food and Connect
Keep an eye out for these food vendors across campus. Yum!

That’s you! A first-year student.

Green mile
UCT’s main rugby fields.

House Comm
Each residence’s House Committee is responsible for managing its annual budget and organising events like Orientation Week and the annual formal. Sub-committees handle specific projects such as furniture or computer purchases. The head student and their deputy oversee these functions.

Hot seat
A weekly appointment with your tutor to discuss your academic progress.

Information and Communication Technology Services. They keep you connected.

45-minute lessons, with a 15-minute break between (in-person) lectures to get to the next one.

LinkedIn Learning
An online virtual training library that offers thousands of tutorials.

The official UCT lunch break – between 13:00 and 14:00 during the week.

North Stop
One of the main UCT Shuttle stops on upper campus. It’s north of the South Stop.

The Office for Inclusivity & Change ensures accessibility and inclusivity for all.

Orientation Leader. They’ll take you through all the necessary things during orientation.


The experience for first-years that welcomes you and prepares you for university life holistically by engaging with academic matters, student support services, the SRC, and societies and sports clubs.

Pass mark
Anything above 50%.

An online database for your academic record, timetable, course marks and personal details.

The open area below Sarah Baartman Hall.

Practicals help you put into practice what you’ve learned in theory.

“Remember and Give” – the fundraising arm of SHAWCO.

Residence. The place you stay if you’re living on campus.

SAX Appeal
The RAG magazine traditionally sold at traffic lights every year in Cape Town. In 2020 it was sold online for the first time.

A university semester is a 15–18-week period of classes and coursework, during which students earn credits towards their degree.

The Students’ Health and Welfare Centres Organisation offers community outreach programmes.

The Students’ Representative Council is the highest decision-making structure of student governance.

Student card
Your multi-purpose UCT ID card. Always keep it with you.

Student number
Once you’re registered, you’ll need this number often. Remember it.

Supplementary exam (for when the first one didn’t go so well).

The Steps
The steps below Sarah Baartman Hall.

The ongoing process of redressing past wrongs and making UCT an inclusive and diverse campus where everyone feels welcome.

Tutorials. Small group meetings to discuss course material. A must if you want to get your DP.

The person, usually a student, who runs tuts.

UCT CARES and UCT Chatbot
The UCT Central Advising and Referral System (UCT CARES) guides you to the information and services that you need. Email if you have a query and you are not sure who to contact, or use the Chatbot – it can now be accessed on two platforms – through the official university website or WhatsApp on 087 240 6965, with plans for increased accessibility in the future. The chatbot is prompted via a drop-down menu and responds to typed questions informed by FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). The Chatbot also gives users the option of contacting a live agent who will be able to assist, or refer you to the appropriate service.

UCT Mobile
UCT Mobile is an app for mobiles and tablets that brings all the UCT services and information you need together in one easy-to-use interface. It allows you to search for and reserve library books, check the UCT Shuttle timetable, check fee account balances, check your course timetables and course results, and much more.

UCT Shuttle
The blue buses that get you around campus and town. It’s free if you’re carrying your student card.

Vacation. Others call it “holidays” or “leave”.

Where you find yourself right now, and UCT’s student newspaper.

Vision 2030
Vision 2030 was developed to give expression to UCT’s massive transformative purpose – “Unleash human potential to create a fair and just society”.

UCT’s official online learning system which is currently being phased out and replaced with UCT’s new digital learning platform Amathuba.

Year mark
Together with your exam results, this contributes to your final mark.

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