Student life in Cape Town

students in Cape Town
Updated 2022-11-06 13:11

Cape Town is a university town. Three universities are located there: the University of Cape Town, the Stellenbosch University and the University of the Western Cape. In this article, you will discover what student life is all about for students of these universities.

Cape Town is known for its student lifestyle and active nightlife. For example, Long Street is the most popular street in the evening and has many restaurants, pubs and nightclubs.

There are plenty of activities, excursions and visits to do in and around Cape Town. You can find out more in the Leisure in Cape Town section.

Cape Town universities

The Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch is the second oldest city in South Africa and is located about 50 km from Cape Town. It has 155,000 inhabitants and is mostly known for its vineyards and its university.

The main campus of the University of Stellenbosch is in the heart of the city. The university welcomes students from all over the world and offers many activities on campus to help them integrate more easily.

The University of the Western Cape

The UWC, located in Bellville, forty kilometers from Cape Town, is a public university founded in 1959. It was then a college reserved for colored students. In 1982, twelve years before the government did, the university officially rejected apartheid.

The University of Cape Town (UCT)

UCT, a public university founded in 1829, is located in Cape Town itself. It is regularly ranked as the top university in South Africa and has a 20% foreign student population.

Since 2015, UCT has been experiencing high social tensions between some of the students and the university management. There have been numerous protests against the lack of student housing, the cost of tuition fees, and against the faculty.

Student activities and benefits in Cape Town

The Stellenbosch University

The Neelsie Student Center is the social heart of the campus. It offers a variety of restaurants and fast food outlets, convenience stores, stores, banks and two movie theaters. It also hosts nightly film screenings, braais, karaoke, and theater, comedy and stand-up shows.

  • Sports

Students can become members (for a fee) of SUSPI (Stellenbosch University Sports Performance Institute) and have access to a world-class gym with saunas, a heated swimming pool, gyms, and cycling studios.

There are also thirty official sports clubs at the university: athletics, badminton, cricket, canoeing and kayaking.

  • Culture

Students can join the ISOS (International Student Organization of Stellenbosch), which organizes excursions, visits, events and weekends to discover the Western Cape. International students can join the Matie Program which is an integration program with the help of students from the university who will introduce them to everything they need to know.

International students can also participate in the Volunteer and Community Engagement (VCE) program. The VCE works primarily with communities around Stellenbosch to help local youth. Participation in this program requires mandatory training and practical work.

Although Stellenbosch is a considerably smaller city than Cape Town, it has many bars, restaurants and nightclubs:

  • Aanklas is a bar where you can play pool and foosball and which hosts live music on Tuesdays and quiz nights on Thursdays.
  • Julian's is a bar restaurant that offers many specials throughout the week.
  • Nu'Bar is a bar and nightclub that organizes the "Afrikaans Night" on the last Thursday of each month.
  • Bohemia organizes many concerts of local bands in a bohemian decor and a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Die Mystic Boer hosts Trance Night every Friday.
  • AmaZink Live, located in the township of Kayamandi, is a restaurant theater that organizes theatrical performances and concerts.

Stellenbosch Ghost Tour organizes guided tours of the historically rich city. The "Stellenbosch by Foot" ends with an evening at the restaurant.

This list is not exhaustive, and there are many other bars, restaurants and nightclubs: Loubar, De Lapa, Balboa Balcony bar, Happy Oak, which are very popular with students.

The University of the Western Cape

The university does not offer a wide range of extracurricular activities, except for sports: field hockey, netball, cricket, rugby and Zumba...

For outings and evenings out in Cape Town, consider the following:

  • Barnyard Theatre offers concerts.
  • Tyger Valley Centre is a large shopping center.
  • Cool Runnings is a one-kilometer-long bobsleigh track.
  • Jack Muller/Danie Uys Park where a five-kilometer race is held every Saturday.
  • Elizabeth Park, where sports equipment is available for outdoor sports.
  • Slow Market Willowbridge: market held every Saturday and Sunday. Farmers and artisans sell their products.
  • The Barn's is a restaurant located in the UWC, very popular with students
  • Nikita's nightclub
  • Buckley's Pool and Bar: pub with pool tables and slot machines.

The University of Cape Town (UCT)

The Department of Student Affairs (DSA) oversees student services and activities, and a common room, Ikhaya House, is available to students.

  • Sports

UCT has about 40 sports clubs offering athletics, rugby, archery, soccer, yachting, and rowing. There is also an indoor sports complex, tennis and squash courts, and soccer and rugby fields. UCT also has access to numerous sailing boats, a diving boat and a water ski boat. Students are also involved in promoting sports in the local communities.

  • Culture

There are about 100 student societies and organizations at UCT offering academic, cultural, social and political activities. They organize regular events.

  • Student accommodation

UCT offers different types of accommodation on and off campus. Their prices differ according to the services offered

Student accommodation in Cape Town

To find accommodation in Cape Town, there are online sites: Property 24, Private Property, IOL Property and Gumtree. Few studios are available in Cape Town, but many apartments and shared houses are on the market (it is necessary to count between 5000 and 10000 Rands for a room or a studio). The most interesting neighborhoods because of their proximity to the university are Woodstock, Salt River, Observatory and Gardens.

Student employment in Cape Town

Although the job market is very competitive, it is possible to find part-time work in Cape Town.

The majority of part-time jobs are in restaurants and pubs. But websites like Teach Me 2, Turtlejar and Superprof offer online and face-to-face tutoring jobs. Sitters 4U offers babysitting jobs and Home Sit offers house-sitting jobs.

Cape Town is the ideal city to study in, combining beautiful landscapes, tourist interests, little or no time difference with France, Mediterranean climate, reasonable cost of living and studies, diversity and kindness of its population with however only one downside, the insecurity especially in the evening.

Useful links:

Stellenbosch University

University of Cape Town

University of Western Cape

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