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University of Cape Town, South Africa

University of Cape Town (UCT) is consistently ranked by Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings as the number one university in South Africa, and Africa. The university was established in 1829, which makes it the oldest university in South Africa. UCT has established itself as a leading academic institution competing with the best universities in the world. UCT has established a culture of academic excellence and has been contributing towards South Africa’s social change and development. This is an important role considering South Africa’s adoption of democracy in 1994. The growing diversity of students working with dedicated faculty makes UCT a very dynamic learning environment. UCT boasts with students from over a hundred countries from different corners of the world.

The university is situated at the foot of Table Mountain’s Devil’s Peak. Standing in the middle of campus on the popular Jammie Stairs you get to see panoramic views of parts of Cape Town. The city of Cape Town is nestled nicely between Table Mountain and the sea. The university is in a suburb of the city called Rondebosch and there are shuttles that transport students to and from the university and specific locations. So if you decide to live near the university or closer to the city centre, you will have the option of taking the Jammie bus.

The university has six faculties – Commerce, Engineering and the Built Environment, Health Sciences, Humanities, Law and Science. Each of these faculties has different departments and institutes doing different research projects. You can take a look at the faculties here https://www.uct.ac.za/faculties/list/. UCT also has the best business school in Africa, the Graduate School of Business. The School of Business offers world standard business education and more information is available on their website http://www.gsb.uct.ac.za/default.asp. The graduate school of business is located at the Protea Breakwater Lodge that was once a 19th century prison near the popular V&A Waterfront.

The UCT Libraries are a great resource for students studying South African society and beyond. The university has more than ten different library collections each with different emphasis. The libraries are situated on various locations on UCT campuses; they are usually near the departments they serve. The UCT libraries have different rules; for instance although you can check items out of the Law Library and the Hiddingh Hall Library, you can’t check material out of the African Studies Collection. You have to use the material you need in the library and hand it back when you are done. All the UCT libraries have specialised librarians who can assist with specific questions. To learn more about UCT Libraries please visit http://www.lib.uct.ac.za/about-the-libraries/.

The different departments on campus work independently of each other for the most part. Most graduate students also work independently. As most students work independently, it may feel like there’s no real cohort or there are no other students, but there are, you just have to be a little more proactive in creating academic and social connections with others. Depending on the research, it is best to contact a specific institute, and even better a specific professor that has similar research interests or someone who generally interests you directly.