University of Cape Town International Students FAQ

University of Cape Town International Students FAQ

I’m an undergraduate student, can I go on exchange?

Yes. Undergraduate students can only apply to go on an exchange during their second year of study, preferably in the second semester. They must submit an exchange application in their 1st year by the 31st of October for exchange in their 2nd year 2nd semester.

How is the exchange structured?

Undergraduates must complete at least 3 semesters at UCT and will go on exchange during their 4th semester (2ndyear, 2nd semester).


What are the academic requirements- what must my marks be like?

To be considered academically eligible to apply for an exchange, students should be maintaining an average of 68% or above. Both semesters are taken into consideration.

Graduate students who do not take course work will be assessed independently. If you do not fulfil this minimum academic requirement, your application will not be considered.

I’m a music student, doing a four year degree – can I rather go on exchange in my third year?

Yes. Music students may go on exchange in their third year on condition they get the necessary permission from their department and are able to fulfil the necessary course credits needed for that year.

I’m an undergraduate student but not in first year, can I still apply?

Final year students (3rd or 4th year) are excluded from applying by Rule GB2.1 in the General Rules and Policies Handbook that states that credit will not be granted for major courses completed at another institution.

How does it work for postgraduate students?

Postgraduate students can apply for an exchange during their Masters or PhD degrees. Rule GB2.1 in the General Rules and Policies Handbook excludes Honours degree students from completing any courses at another institution.

If an Honours student wants to go on exchange in the first year of their Masters programme, then they can only apply for the second semester exchange (31 October deadline date) if they have enough decision making information. This includes having applied to do a Masters programme at UCT in the following year and by the time we have the selection committee meeting, they should be able to produce an acceptance letter for that Masters programme. Should they be awarded the opportunity, this would still be on condition that they register at UCT for that Masters programme.

I’m doing a Masters programme that has a coursework component, can I take courses for credit?

Eligible graduate students are allowed to take courses necessary and required for their degree, permitted it’s not restricted at the host institution.

I’m doing a research only Masters/ PhD programme, can I go on exchange and can I do courses?

Eligible graduate students are allowed to conduct research and take courses permitted it’s not restricted at the host institution. Students would have to, as far as possible, organise a co-supervisor at the host institution themselves. This can be started in the first application stage and if they should be granted this exchange, it would just be a matter of gaining admission to the host institution and confirming the time and conditions of the research.

How does the scholarship work? What does it cover and what must I pay?

UCT has exchange agreements with different universities which enables a certain number of spaces to be reserved for UCT students. These agreements also ensure that students receive tuition fee waivers and a living cost scholarships. Students are still expected to pay tuition at UCT for their semester abroad. The scholarship is meant to cover accommodation, meals and health insurance either completely or to a large extent. Students are always encouraged to save between US$2000 and US$4000 for their semester abroad. This amount should help with any other costs incurred like visas, personal expenses, entertainment, inner-city travel and touring. Apart from this IAPO pays 50% of the cheapest, most direct flight to get to the host institution.

How do I choose the host institution and my courses?

Students need to research the institutions they are interested in to ensure that the courses they would be missing out on at UCT are sufficiently covered by the host institution. They can start informal discussions with UCT student advisors to help them identify appropriate courses or to confirm whether the courses researched are good enough substitutes for the UCT courses they would be missing out on.

For the application, students must get HOD approval and written confirmation in principle that credits for courses completed at a partner university will be transferred towards their UCT degree, ensuring that they will complete their degrees in the stipulated timeframe. 


Should the student be successful in his or her application and is awarded an exchange and has been allocated a university, then the student will get his or her final list of courses approved by the relevant HOD or delegated authority. This is sometimes one of the last things done before leaving for exchange. If the student is unable to get the majority of his or her courses approved before leaving for exchange, even after shuffling courses in the programme around, and the result of going on exchange will extend the students time of completing his or her degree, then the student will have to withdraw from the programme.


What are the chances of getting the universities chosen as per my application form?

Unfortunately we cannot guarantee that the students will get their first or second choice as per their application forms but we try as far as possible to allocate a university to all students granted the exchange opportunity. It’s recommended that you have a third and fourth preference.

If I’m awarded an exchange opportunity, can I choose another university other than those mentioned on the application form?

Yes, this is possible. Depending on the applicant pool and how universities are allocated in that particular cycle, you may choose another institution but this is not always a possibility so you should choose wisely when completing your application form.

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