Welcoming UCT postgrads and supervisors

07 March 2024 | Professor Jeff Murugan

Dear postgraduates and supervisors

A warm welcome to our postgraduate students, both those returning and those starting their studies this year. I am writing to inform you about the different kinds of support and resources available to you at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

A postgraduate degree is largely driven by you as an individual, which can be challenging at times. Whether you are getting started on your studies, somewhere in the middle, or finishing off, there will be points at which you need to ask for help. There is a wide range of free resources available to enhance your experience.

Please note the below 10 tips* for getting started (or re-energising your studies), as sourced from the @UCTpostgrads social media account:

  1. Registration: You can only officially start your degree once you complete the online registration process – there is an easy-to-follow guide that explains how. The registration process at UCT is not the same as the application process. Returning students must re-register at the start of every year. Online registration is reaching completion for coursework programmes, while registration for research-only (eg master’s by dissertation or PhD) programmes is still ongoing. Each faculty has a different process for postgraduate registration, so be sure to note the dates and guidelines for your faculty to avoid a penalty fee for late registration.
  2. Free resources: Familiarise yourself with the wide range of free resources to support your postgraduate development. If you know what’s available to you, you’ll be able to access it when you need it throughout your degree journey.
  3. Writing support: It is entirely normal to feel overwhelmed and/or intimidated by the writing process. We offer our postgrads comprehensive writing services to support them. Writing well is like a muscle – it needs to be exercised to develop. Try out our free services to get “writing fit”.
  4. Postgrad events calendar: In addition to upskilling yourself, joining our free workshops and webinars can help connect you to a community of other postgrads.
  5. Health matters: Take care of your mental, physical and emotional health, check out the services offered by UCT Student Wellness Service. For students in distress or for those needing immediate help, please contact the UCT Student Careline by calling 0800 24 25 26 (free from a Telkom line) or send a SMS to 31393 for a callback service. They offer 24/7 telephonic counselling, advice, referral facilities and general support to anyone facing any mental health challenges.
  6. Research skills: Develop these skills with the resources offered by the UCT Libraries. They have produced subject guides in every subject area.
  7. Funding matters: Our Postgraduate Funding Office (PGFO) is available to help you navigate funding opportunities. While the deadlines for most of the scholarships and bursary opportunities to fund your studies this year have already passed, new opportunities are advertised on the online noticeboardand @UCTpostgrads – check back frequently for new and exciting funding opportunities. If you have been awarded a bursary or scholarship, the PGFO will email you directly about the process involved in claiming these funds.
  8. Problem solving: The d-school Afrika at UCT is one of only three in the world. They offer programmes that help students develop a creative, design-led mindset, whilst improving analytical and spatial thinking skills. Design thinking skills are in high demand by employers all over the world. Check out the programmes for students.
  9. International students: Our students come from over 100 different countries. If you’re an international student, contact our International Office for guidance on visas, medical aid and housing matters.
  10. Admin support: When you need admin help or guidance on academic systems, contact the postgrad administrator associated with your faculty/department. If you’re struggling to navigate the online student administration system, PeopleSoft, then please email the Student Support Helpdesk or contact them on 021 650 5227.

Key communication from UCT: emails, web and social media

  • Official communication from UCT will always be sent to your myUCT inbox. If you don’t check this inbox regularly, we recommend you automatically forward all the emails from your UCT inbox to the mailbox of your choice.
  • When in doubt, your first port of call for any admin questions about your studies should always be the relevant postgraduate administrator associated with your host department.
  • @UCTpostgrads: Keep your eye on this X (formerly Twitter) account for relevant info to support your journey.
  • UCT Postgrad Hub: This website provides important information necessary for all prospective and current postgraduates at UCT – so take the time to familiarise yourself with it.
  • UCT_CARES Chatbot on WhatsApp: The chatbot will answer your questions via a dropdown menu and responds to typed questions. As this is a learning bot, the service will be able to answer more questions over time. To connect to the UCT_CARES Chatbot, follow these steps:
    1. add the number +27 87 240 6965 to your contact list on WhatsApp
    2. Type “Hi” and the chatbot will start interacting with you.

Connectivity on campus

  • Eduroam: Wi-Fi, through the secure world-wide roaming access service Eduroam, is available on all UCT campuses and residences. Students and staff can access Eduroam wherever it is available. This includes not only nearly all university campuses in South Africa, but also public libraries and other sites in Cape Town such as the airport. We recommend students familiarise themselves with the Eduroam spots nearest to them.
  • UCT Virtual Private Network (VPN): this solution allows you to connect securely to UCT’s network from any internet-connected location, including an insecure public Wi-Fi (like a mall or coffee shop). This means that you can get secure access to your UCT network resources as if you were working from campus.
  • Loadshedding: An ongoing challenge we face in 2024 is loadshedding. UCT has put measures in place to ensure that minimal teaching and learning time is lost during these power outages, that research facilities are disturbed as little as possible and that the impact on all other university operations is reduced. The City of Cape Town issues regular notices ahead of loadshedding. Download an app to keep track of the daily schedule. UCT’s upper, middle and lower campuses, the Health Sciences campus and all residences are in Area 15. Hiddingh Campus and the Graduate School of Business are in Area 7, while the Philippi satellite campus is in Area 16. Familiarise yourself with the City’s loadshedding schedule and be prepared.

I wish you the very best for the year ahead.

Warm regards

Professor Jeff Murugan
Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation

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