INTRODUCTION TO ACADEMIC ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESSES AT UCT: A BRIEF GUIDE FOR SEMESTER STUDY ABROAD STUDENTS
1. What does the term Faculty mean at UCT?
South African universities are structured into faculties (the US equivalent is colleges), and at UCT these have a fair level autonomy although there are central policies and procedures that are executed by all faculties. UCT has six faculties: Commerce, Engineering and the Built Environment, Health Sciences, Humanities, Law, and Science. Each faculty has a number of academic departments (usually divided by discipline).
The term faculty at UCT does not refer to an academic staff member/professor.
2. What is registration?
Registration refers to the process of enrolling for courses, and is done by the faculty office concerned. We do not offer online registration. Registration will take place on the following dates:
Semester 1: Friday, 7 February 2020
Semester 2: Friday, 10 July 2020
3. Which faculty office will I register in?
You will be assigned to a faculty office based on the courses that you have selected when you applied for the UCT semester study abroad programme and the approval status of your courses. You would have received an email indicating the faculty office in which you will register.
4. What to bring to registration?
- A pen;
- a list of your pre-approved courses;
- your UCT student number;
- Ensure that you accept our study offer online
Note: to accept the study offer visit: http://studentsonline.uct.ac.za/ using the username (student number) and password provided to you when you made application online.
If you do not accept the study offer online, we will not be able to capture your registration form on our system
5. How do I register for courses?
The registration process involves the completion of two forms:
- The ‘registration form’ on which all personal details are recorded
- The ‘curriculum form’ on which the selected courses are recorded
Step 1: Collection of forms
Collect your registration form and curriculum form at the registration venue (see overleaf for venue details)
Step 2: Check personal details
Check your registration form to ensure that your personal details are accurate. We will use this details to contact you in the event of an emergency during the semester therefore it is important that these details are accurate.
Step 3: Update personal information
Log onto http://studentsonline.uct.ac.za/ using your username (UCT student number) and password issued when you made application online. Update your Cape Town address and contact details so that we can reach you in the event of an emergency.
Step 4: Course selection
Use the curriculum form to record the courses that you wish to register for.
Step 5: Academic Advisor
Meet with the faculty office academic advisor to discuss your course selection and sign your forms. The academic advisor at the registration venues will have a list of the courses for which you have been approved, based on your course selection when you applied for the programme. If you wish to change your course selection, you will need to follow the ADD/DROP process during the first week of lectures:
Semester 1: 10 - 14 February 2020
Semester 2: 13 - 17 February 2020
Step 6: Data capture
Take your forms to the data capture area for capturing on the PeopleSoft administration system. Pay very careful attention to the capturing process to ensure correctness. You must check your details on the online self-service at this link: http://studentsonline.uct.ac.za/ within 24 hours and report any discrepancy to your faculty office immediately. You are registered for the courses that appear online – if you are taking a course that does not appear on your record it simply means that you are not registered and you must attend to this urgently. No courses can be added after:
Semester 1: 14 February 2020
Semester 2: 17 July 2020
Similarly, if a course which you are not taking appears on your record you must report this or a fail result will be entered and this will remain on your record.
Step 7: Check your timetable
After your courses are captured, you can view your timetable on the online self-service at this link: http://studentsonline.uct.ac.za/ using your UCT student number and password. Alternately, you can check your courses on the UCT mobile App.
6. Which courses do I register for?
When you applied to the UCT semester study abroad programme you selected courses on your online application form. Your course selection was sent to the relevant academic department at UCT, together with a copy of your academic transcript and proof of English proficiency, where applicable, for them to confirm whether you are eligible to take their course. An email communication has been sent to you, to inform you of the course pre-approval status of your course. In addition, the email communication indicated the faculty office in which you have been assigned to register.
Note: your course pre-approval status will be one of the following: i) Approved = you are approved to take the course; ii) Approval Pending = we have not received feedback from the relevant academic approver and iii) Not Approved = you are not approved to take the course. If you are not approved for a course this could be for a several reasons, including: i) the class size has reached capacity and there is no further space; or you do not meet the academic pre-requisites; or the course is not open for enrolment by semester study abroad students; or the course is not offered in the given semester.
The faculty advisors at the registration venues will have a list of the courses for which you have been approved. In addition, you would have been emailed your course pre-approval status.
You get to decide which of your pre-approved courses you register for. If you decide to enrol for your pre-approved courses, insert the course codes in the appropriate fields on your curriculum form. If you wish to add courses that you have not received prior approval for, check with the academic advisor at the registration venue whether they can approve you for the course you wish to add.
If the academic advisor at the registration venue cannot approve you for the additional course, you will need to use the Change of Curriculum form (ACA09) to add the additional course. See ADD/DROP instructions below.
Certain courses may require that you take an audition, write an essay, submit a portfolio, or take an oral exam, before approval is granted.
You will not be allowed to register for two courses that clash on the timetable even if you have approval for both courses. See class times below.
All courses on offer are listed in the handbook of the faculty in which you will be registering. Pay careful attention to the suffix of the course code: an F suffix indicates it is offered in the first semester (Feb-June), an S suffix indicates it is offered in the second semester (July-Nov). You cannot take a course with a suffix of W or H as these are offered for the full year. Students wishing to take W or H courses in the performing arts must make inquire with the academic department, if they can offer a semesterised version of the course.
The normal course load is three or four courses (with a total credit load ranging from 72-90 NQF credits). It is not recommended that you take more than four courses. You are allowed to take courses across faculty offices, provided that you are approved to take those courses. The academic advisor will sign off your registration form and the curriculum form at the registration venue.
7. What do my UCT grades and credits equate to at my home university?
Each home university uses a unique process to convert UCT grades and credits to their credit weightings and grading system. As an approximation, 72 NQF credits at UCT equates to 30 ECTS credits (for European degree programmes) and
68–81 NQF credits equates to 15–18 US credits (for American degree programmes).
The approximate grade conversion is:
In the US
In the UK
75 - 100% First Class
70 - 74% Second Class (Division One)
60 - 69% Second Class (Division Two)
50 - 59% Third Class
0 - 49% Fail
DPR: Duly performed certificate refused (i.e., not permitted to write examination)
AB: Absent from examination
8. How do I add/drop courses?
To add or drop courses after you have registered on the 19 July, use the Change of Curriculum form (ACA09)
You can only add courses during the first week of lectures i.e. 10 - 14 February 2020 (Semester 1) and 13 - 17 July 2020 (Semester 2). Please make sure that you do not enrol for more than four courses.
On the ACA09 form, complete all fields of Section 1: Student Details, which are applicable to you.
Complete Section 2C: Withdraw/Add a course, with the course codes for the course(s) you wish to add or withdraw from.
Adding a course
- To add a course, take the Change of Curriculum (ACA09) form, together with an updated copy of your academic transcript to the course convenor for that course (see the faculty handbooks for course convenor details provided with the course descriptions). If you are approved to take the course, the course convenor will sign the course convenor signature field in Section 2C of your ACA09 form;
- You will sign the Student field in Section 3;
- Once you have the above mentioned signatures, get the signature for the Academic or Programme Convenor (in Section 3) for the faculty office in which you are registered.
- Take the completed form, with all the relevant signatures, to the faculty office in which you are registered so that they can capture your change of curriculum on the PeopleSoft administration system.
Note: Dr Kevin Winter is the academic advisor for students registered in the Science Faculty (Rm 4.08, Environmental & Geographical Sciences Building, Upper Campus).
*For students registered in the Faculties of Humanities, Law, Commerce and Engineering & Built Environment: please consult your Faculty Office for information about the location of the academic advisor who can sign your ACA09 form.
Dropping a course – if you would like to drop a course which you are already registered for:
- To drop a course, use the Change of Curriculum (ACA09) form and insert the course code in Section 2C;
- Sign the Student field in Section 3 of the ACA09 form;
- Get the signature of the Advisor or Programme Convenor for the faculty office in which you are registered;
- Once you have all the relevant signatures, submit the form to the faculty office in which you are registered, so
that they can capture your change of curriculum on the PeopleSoft administration system.
Please check your registration record carefully after any change to your curriculum to ensure that the correct courses are added/ dropped on your record.
Courses can only be dropped before or on Friday 20 March 2020 (Semester 1) / Friday 21 August 2020 (Semester 2). If you do not wish to take a course any longer, but do not remove the course from your record, the course will remain on your UCT transcript and you will receive a fail grade.
Submitting your complete ACA09 form to your faculty office for capturing. Faculty office locations:
- Engineering the Built Environment: Level 5, New Engineering Building, Upper Campus
- Commerce: Leslie Commerce Building, Engineering Mall, Upper Campus
- Humanities: Beattie Building, University Avenue, Upper Campus
- Science: Level 6, PD Hahn Building, North Lane, Upper Campus
- Law: Level 4, Wilfred & Jules Kramer Law Building Middle Campus
9. What times are classes offered?
The times for each class are indicated in the relevant faculty handbook, but the venues are posted on the notice boards in the various departments. You can also use this link to view lecture/ tutorial times and venue details: http://coursetimetable.uct.ac.za/
Lectures are taught for 45minutesin duration. There are 11 lecture periods per day:
1 = 8.00-8.45am
2 = 9.00-9.45am
3 = 10.00-10.45am
4 = 11.00-11.45am
5 = 12.00-12.45pm
M = meridian (13:00pm)
6 = 14:00-14:45pm
7 = 15.00-15.45pm
8 = 16.00-16.45pm
9 = 17.00-17.45pm
10 = 18.00-18.45pm
10. How do I know whether my classes are offered at the same time?
To check whether there is any clash in your class times and/or lab work times, confirm your lecture times using this link: http://coursetimetable.uct.ac.za/
11. Can I receive extra time accommodations and concessions?
Extra time concessions are applied for through the Disability Service. Students with Specific Learning Disabilities, physical or sensory disabilities or medical conditions that impact on their ability to perform under timed test or examination conditions may apply for this concession. Only under exceptional circumstances (where students have severe or multiple impairments) will the university grant more than 15 minutes extra time per hour. Thus, in the case of a three hour examination a maximum of an additional 45 minutes is permitted.
Extra time concession is not granted on the grounds of a mental health disability. Students with a mental health disability may apply for access to a secluded examination venue from where they can take their exam. [This paragraph is the answer to question 13.]
For more information on UCT’s policy on mental health, please read the draft policy document here.
12. How do I apply for extra time accommodations and concessions?
Register with the Disability Service and make an appointment with the psychologist.
All students applying for examination accommodations need to come to the Disability Service, in person, to complete the Provisional Registration Form and, at the same time, make an appointment to meet with the psychologist who processes these applications.
When you meet with the psychologist you will complete the application form for time concessions, and discuss other accommodations you may require.
If you are applying for a time concession on the grounds of a physical disability or chronic medical condition you will need to submit your application through a medical doctor at the Student Wellness Service. You will be assisted to make this appointment while at the Disability Service.
13. What documents are required to apply for extra time concessions?
The documents listed below are required to support applications for accommodations and/or the extra time concession.
- All students need to provide the accommodations letter issued by their home university. This is the letter that lists what accommodations students receive at their home universities
- Students applying for accommodations on the grounds of a Specific Learning Disability also need to submit an assessment report from an appropriately qualified psychologist.
- Students who apply for accommodations on the grounds of a physical or sensory disability, or chronic illness, need to provide the relevant medical documentation.
- Students with mental health disabilities, requesting access to a secluded writing venue, need to provide a report from a mental health practitioner.
In all the above instances, the documentation originally submitted to the student’s home university, at the time the student applied for accommodations there, is likely to be accepted.
14. What are the relevant deadlines to apply for extra time accommodations?
Deadline to register with Disability Service:
Semester 1: 20 March 2020
Semester 2: 20 August 2020
It is, however, preferable that you register as soon after you arrive at UCT as possible. This will expedite the approval of your accommodations and you will be able to access them for class tests during the term. Class tests can start from as early as the fourth week of the semester.
Deadline for submitting the required documentation:
Semester 1: 23 April 2020
Semester 2: 23 September 2020
If you would like to confirm that you have the required documentation please feel free to email the Disability Service firstname.lastname@example.org and submit your supporting documents while still in your home country. Note that, if you do so, you still need to follow the process outlined above.
How many courses should I take?
As a rule of thumb, SSA students need to take a minimum of three courses per semester.
This is based on the regulations of South Africa’s National Qualifications Framework (NQF), which ensures high-quality tertiary education to students at both public and private institutions. According to these regulations, students should take between 72 and 90 credits per semester to be considered as having a “full academic load”. This is equivalent to the credits typically earned by a degree-seeking student in a semester.
When choosing your courses you will note each course in the handbook indicates the credit value. You need to ensure that the credit values of the courses you are taking add up to at least 72 credits for a semester.
See example from humanities handbook below:
Please note: the transfer of credit is always at the discretion of your home institution or centralised programme. Usually, students discuss their course choices with their home university before enrolling at UCT to be sure they are undertaking appropriate courses and can transfer sufficient credit. Some home universities may use a ‘learning agreement’ to record students’ choices. Remember to keep your home university informed of the courses you register for on arrival at UCT, and to communicate any changes to them directly. Bear in mind that your course load and pass rate may affect your financial aid package at home. It’s always best to check these details with your home university. For more information about course options, please visit the choose your courses page.
Grades at UCT
UCT does not work on the United States grade point average system. Our grading system more closely resembles the British system in which grades are classified as first, upper second, lower second and third.
Grades are awarded at the end of the semester for individual courses and are usually based on the final examination as well as continuous assessment through the semester (assignments, tutorials and tests).
See UCT’s recommended grade conversation table below, which we issue with your final transcript. This is intended as a guide to your home university. Please do note that grade conversion varies from one university to another. It is up to your home institution to convert your grades into their system.
Approximate UCT grade equivalent
75 - 100% First class
70 - 74% Second class (division one/upper second)
60 - 69% Second class (division two/lower second)
50 - 59% Third class
0 - 49% Fail
DPR: Duly Performed certificate refused (not permitted to write examination)
AB: Absent from examination
Exams at UCT
Your final grade will be awarded through assessment of a combination of essays, assignments, tests, class participation/presentation and exams. Exams usually count for a significant proportion of your final course result. Your lecturers will explain the system for their course at the outset.
Exams are written in the ‘exam period’, which is set annually. You will find these dates here. The final exam timetable is set centrally by the university and is not flexible. It is therefore important to arrange your travel plans around the examination period. Your last exam will likely be your last day of term, so, if possible, only make travel arrangements once your exam timetable is set and you know when your last exam is.
If you need to make travel plans before the exam timetable is released, it is best to err on the side of caution and only make travel arrangements for after the examination period has ended. If you need to make plans for an internship programme or you have any queries regarding suitable dates to leave, please check the calendar (above) or contact your SSA officer at IAPO (email email@example.com).
Permission to write exams
To write exams at UCT, students need to have met the basic minimum requirements set by each department. This usually involves a certain percentage of class attendance, assignment/essay submission and other course work throughout the semester. Duly performed (DP) is the recognition that you have completed these minimum requirements to write your exam.
Each course has different DP requirements, which will be explained at the start of your course, on handouts, or on UCT’s online portal, Vula. Details are also available in your faculty handbook. If you have any questions, chat to your lecturer or course convener.
Students who have met all the requirements are granted a duly performed (DP) certificate, which means they have permission to write the final exam for the end-of-semester assessment.
Students who do not qualify for a DP certificate will find their names placed on a DPR list (‘duly performed certificate – refused’) and signposted on the relevant noticeboards in the academic department offering the course. If your name is on this DPR list, it means that you will not be allowed to write the final examination.
Missing an exam due to illness and injury
If you cannot write an examination for a valid reason owing to illness or injury, or must leave the venue during the examination because you have become ill, you must report to the Student Wellness Centre immediately for assessment. You should not see another doctor for this purpose.
You will then need to apply for a deferred exam. Contact the SSA Team at the International Office as soon as possible so that we can assist you in your application.
Extra time on tests or examinations
Students with a physical or learning disability may be given permission to receive extra time on their UCT tests and exams, as well as access to certain resources to assist with their physical or learning needs.
If you qualify for extended time at your home institution, please bring proof of this from your Registrar’s office. This document is usually known as your ‘accommodations letter’ and lists the range of accommodations for which you qualify. In addition to the accommodation letter, you will be required to submit the relevant medical supporting documentation. In the case of a physical condition, we will require the full medical report, detailing your physical condition. In the case of a specific learning disability, we will require a psychometric assessment report, issued by the clinical psychologist who diagnosed your learning disability. UCT will accept the same medical and/or psychometric reports that you submitted when you applied for extended time, and any other accommodations, at your home university.
To apply for extra time, you will need to visit the Disability Services Office in person once you arrive, and register with their office.
The deadline to register with Disability Services is:
20 March for the first semester (Feb-June)
20 August for the second semester (July-November)
Getting approval for the various accommodations can take time so you should not leave it to the last minute. You will need to visit the Disability Services office in person to make the application, it cannot be done on your behalf by your home institution or programme provider.
Once you have registered with the Disability Service, you will need to make an appointment with the relevant health professional. If you are making application for accommodations based on a physical disability, you will need to make an appointment with the medical practitioner at the UCT Student Wellness Centre. The disability service can help you with this. If you are making application for accommodations based on a learning disability, you will need to make an appointment to be assessed by the clinical psychologist at the Disability Service office. Appointments can be made when you visit the Disability Service to complete the Registration Form. This cannot be done via email.
The maximum additional time given at UCT is an extra 15 minutes for every one hour given in an exam. So students writing a three-hour exam will receive up to an extra 45 minutes.
For more information on how to apply for extra time and other accommodations, see the following documents:
Information for international students applying for extra time
Process for applying for concessions
The deadline to submit the required supporting documentation is:
23 April for the first semester (Feb-June)
23 September for the second semester (July-November)
For more information see the guides below:
Late withdrawal from courses
Please do pay special attention to the ‘change of curriculum’ dates shared with you during the orientation period and sign-posted on the faculty notice boards.
UCT does not allow students to withdraw from a course in the last few weeks before the exam period. If you have not withdrawn from a course within the given time frame, and do not write the exam, you will fail the exam.
Jagger Special Collections Library at UCT
For more information
Should you have any queries about academic matters during your time at UCT you can consult the SSA Officers at IAPO.
You should also contact your Faculty Office directly in connection with withdrawing from courses or changing course registrations.