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Student life FAQ

Understanding the university

  • What is a lecturer? Is this different from a teacher?

    A lecturer is the person who will be responsible for teaching a course. A lecturer is a lot like a high school teacher except that a lecturer would expect you to do a lot more self-study than a teacher and often functions more as a guide.

  • What is a lecture? Is this different from a lesson?

    A lecture at UCT is generally a 45-minute session during which the lecturer will teach you about key concepts relevant to your course. You are often expected to have prepared ahead of your lecture by engaging with readings or other materials.

  • What is a faculty?

    A faculty is the grouping of departments that are concerned with a major branch of knowledge. For example, the Faculty of Science at UCT is where you will find both the science departments of Geology and Biology. The faculty is therefore also home to all students studying for a Bachelors degree in Science (BSc). Read more about the faculties in our faculty factsheets.

  • What does the vice-chancellor do?

    The vice-chancellor is accountable to Council for the leadership of the university, and for determining the university's strategic goals, and ensuring their implementation. This includes accountability for the university's overall financial health, academic standing, transformation, and social justice interventions.

  • What is a registrar?

    The registrar is secretary to Council, Senate and Convocation and the head of the university’s academic administration. The registrar has overall responsibility for legal matters across the university and supports the executive officers, deans and heads of department across a wide range of internal structures and functions. The student admissions and systems-support functions report to the registrar.

  • What is a dean?

    A dean is the person who is responsible for managing a faculty, including overview of all its educational and research matters.

Student governance

  • What is the Student Representative Council (SRC)?

    The Student Representative Council (SRC) is an elected body and the highest decision-making structure of student governance.

  • What is the role of the SRC?

    It represents all students at UCT, and their overall interest and social well-being, in university committees. It is highly involved in policy-making and co-operative decision-making on campus.

  • Who forms part of the SRC?

    The SRC is elected annually by the students and consists of 15 members who either represent other student organisations or are independents.

  • What is the SRC Assistance Fund?

    The SRC Assistance Fund aims to help students who are unable to register due to outstanding fees.

  • How do I qualify for the SRC Assistance Fund?

    The selection criteria include: Financial need, Academic performance, Year of study and Debt size.

  • What is the Student Parliament?

    The Student Parliament of the University of Cape Town is an assembly of all the student structures at the university. It serves as an advisory body to the SRC on policy matters, but decisions taken by a two thirds majority of the assembly are binding on the SRC. It keeps the SRC and its substructures accountable, transparent and rooted in the principles and values that are enshrined in the SRC constitution. The meetings of the student assembly are open to all registered students of the university, to observe and participate without voting rights. Its affairs are managed by the Student Parliament Management Committee.

  • Who forms part of the Student Parliament Management Committee (SPMC)?

    The SPMC consists of a Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Convenor, Leader of SRC Business and Secretary. See the SRC website for their contact details.

  • What are Student Faculty Councils?

    Each faculty has an undergraduate and postgraduate Student Faculty Council, which is elected on an annual basis by, and composed of, registered undergraduate or postgraduate students who have completed at least one semester within that faculty. Student Faculty Councils form a crucial link between the students, academics and staff members within their faculties and are tasked with representing their student body on numerous faculty committees and structures, such as the Faculty Board and the Dean’s Advisory Committee. They are to serve the interests of students within their faculties, primarily by coordinating class or departmental representatives and creating environments conducive to fostering academic excellence, but also through initiatives in the areas of transformation, safety and wellness, and social responsiveness.

  • How do I contact Faculty Councils?

Sports and societies

Understanding UCT lingo

  • Caf

    As in cafeteria. It is the food court in the Steve Biko Students' Union building. See the Upper Campus map.

  • CPS

    CPS stands for Campus Protection Services. These are the people who take care of safety and security on campus and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • DP (Duly Performed)

    If you get your DP for a course, this means that you have fulfilled your commitment to learning the material offered in the course. This commitment is usually described in the course requirements and is assessed as having completed enough class assessments and tasks to be allowed to write the exams.

  • DPR (Duly Performed Refused)

    This means you’ve spent too much time in the caf. It indicates that you have not met the course requirements and may not be allowed to write the exams.

  • Early Assessment (EA)

    A formal academic check to see how you’re doing in your first weeks at university.

  • Extended Degree Programme (EDP)

    A flexible degree programme that gives you a bit more time and help to complete your degree. EDPs differ from faculty to faculty. You should ask your advisor if you want to know more about it.

  • eduroam

    The network that provides free Wi-Fi on campus.

  • First-class pass

    When you get over 75%, congratulations, it’s a first-class pass. An upper second is 70–74%, a lower second is 60–69% and a third is 50–59%. Anything less than 50% is a failing grade.

  • FYE

    The First-Year Experience (FYE) is a programme to help you during your first year of study.

  • Hot seat

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

  • ICTS

    Information and Communication Technology Services (ICTS) keep you online and digitally enabled.

  • Lectures

    45-minute lessons separated by 15-minute breaks to allow you to get to the next one.

  • LinkedIn Learning

    An online virtual training library, offering thousands of tutorials on a variety of subjects.

  • Meridian

    Lunch break, between 13:00 and 14:00

  • NBTs

    National Benchmark Tests (NBTs)

  • OIC

    The Office for Inclusivity and Change (OIC) helps ensure the university is accessible and inclusive to all.

  • OL

    This is an Orientation Leader, the person who will take you through the basics during Orientation Week.

  • Pass mark

    Anything above 50%.

  • PeopleSoft

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

  • Plaza

    The open area below Sarah Baartman Hall where tons of events take place.

  • Pracs

    Practicals, during which you put into practice what you’ve learned in theory.

  • Pre-reg

    Pre-registration is a fees and immigration clearance process which all international students are required to complete before they can be registered at UCT.

  • RAG

    "Remember and Give" (RAG) is the fundraising arm of SHAWCO (Students’ Health and Welfare Centres Organisation).

  • Res

    As in residence, the place you stay if you’re living on campus.

  • SAX Appeal

    The day on which the RAG magazine is sold by students to raise money for SHAWCO. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this may not take place in 2021.

  • SHAAS

  • SHAWCO

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

  • Shuttle

    The blue buses that get you around campus and town. If you have your student card, it’s free!

  • SRC

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

  • Steps

    If someone wants to meet you on the Steps, these are the ones that lead right up to the plaza.

  • Supp

    Supplementary exam (for when the first one didn’t go so well). This is a second chance at passing the course and your eligibility will be determined by various factors. Ask your course convenor about it.

  • Tuts

    Tutorials (tuts) are small groups that meet to discuss material raised in lectures. Tuts are compulsory if you want to get a DP.

  • Tutor

    Person in charge of tuts, who might also become your mentor, academic guide and friend.

  • UCT CARES

    UCT CARES (Central Advising and Referral System) provides you with a central point of contact for the information and services that you need. Email uctcares@uct.ac.za if you have a query and you are not sure who to contact.

  • UCT Open Day

    Open Day is an annual event aimed at high school students, their families, teachers and guidance counsellors. Open Day gives high school learners the chance to find out about courses and programmes of study, to pose questions to our academic staff and current students and to explore the many career opportunities our academic programmes offer graduates. The event normally takes place on a Saturday during the second quarter of the year. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event could not take place in 2020, and will not be hosted in 2021.

  • Vac

    As in “vacation”. The thing your parents refer to as a “holiday” or “leave”.

  • Varsity

    Where you find yourself right now. Also, the name of one of UCT’s student newspapers.

  • Vula

    UCT’s official online learning system with everything you need to know about your courses, and more.

  • Year mark

    Over the course of the year you will complete a number of marked assessments: tests, practicals, essays and tutorials. This will be different for each course. These marks are used to calculate your year mark for the course. Together with your exam mark, your year mark is used to calculate your final result for the course.

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