The University of Cape Town (UCT) is South Africa's oldest university, and is one of Africa's leading teaching and research institutions.
Today, against the backdrop of a rapidly changing and diversifying democratic society, UCT is implementing an action guide on transformation looking at issues such as staff diversity, student equity and access, the curriculum, leadership and governance, and attitudes and behaviour.
The university views transformation as a multifaceted and integrated process by which it continuously renews itself in an ongoing effort to represent in all aspects of its life and functions the vision and ideals of its mission and values. In this effort, UCT strives to redress past injustices, promote equal opportunity for all, reflect in the profile of its students and staff the demographics of South Africa, safeguard human rights and ensure that its system of governance, its teaching and learning, and its research and service uphold the inherent dignity of all and meet the development needs of South Africa's emerging democracy.
The university has six faculties - Commerce, Engineering & the Built Environment, Law, Health Sciences, Humanities and Science - which are supported by UCT's Centre for Higher Education Development, which addresses students' teaching and learning needs.
Among its more than 100 000 alumni are the late Professor Christiaan Barnard, the world-renowned heart surgeon, and three Nobel laureates, Sir Aaron Klug, the late Professor Alan MacLeod Cormack and JM Coetzee.
UCT also has more than 60 specialist research units that provide supervision for postgraduate work and is home to more than a quarter of South Africa's A-rated researchers - academics who are considered world leaders in their fields.
UCT continues to work towards its goal to be Africa's leading research university.
The University of Cape Town was founded in 1829 as the South African College, a high school for boys.
The College had a small tertiary-education facility that grew substantially after 1880, when the discovery of gold and diamonds in the north - and the resulting demand for skills in mining - gave it the financial boost it needed to grow. The College developed into a fully fledged university during the period 1880 to 1900, thanks to increased funding from private sources and the government.
UCT was formally established as a university in 1918, on the basis of the Alfred Beit bequest and additional substantial gifts from mining magnates Julius Wernher and Otto Beit. The new university also attracted substantial support from well-wishers in the Cape Town area and, for the first time, a significant state grant.
Ten years later, in 1928, the university was able to move the bulk of its facilities to the magnificent site at Groote Schuur on the slopes of Devil's Peak on land bequeathed to the nation by Cecil John Rhodes as the site for a national university, where it celebrated its centenary the following year.
The University of Cape Town is the highest-ranked African university in the QS World University Rankings, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities. It achieved a rank of 156 in the 2011 QS World University Rankings and a rank of 113 in the 2013 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, making it the only African university in the top 200. Within this same ranking UCT was placed in the top 50 in the categories of life sciences and social sciences. UCT's MBAprogramme was globally ranked at 54 in 2012 by the Financial Times, and was ranked first in the "value for money" category. In addition to this, The University of Cape Town was placed as the second best business school in Africa and the Middle East in the 2010 QS Global 200 Business Schools Report. The University also achieved a rank of 141–145 in the Russian-based Global Universities Ranking. In the QS World University Rankings by subject for 2013, UCT was ranked at 32 in the subject area of education and training and ranked in the top 100 for earth and marine sciences, politics, psychology, law and legal studies, history and archaeology, geography and English language and literature.
In 2014 UCT was ranked 4th fourth overall university among universities in the BRICS and emerging market economies and the top university in South Africa in The Times Higher Education Brics and Emerging Economies Rankings 2015. In the 2015 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the university placed 124th overall.
UCT has 36 different sports clubs, including team sports, individual sports, extreme sports and martial arts. The university's sports teams, and in particular the rugby unionteam, are known as the "Ikey Tigers" or the "Ikeys". The "Ikey" nickname originated in the 1910s as an anti-semitic epithet applied to UCT students by the students ofStellenbosch University, because of the supposed large number of Jewish students at UCT. Stellenbosch is UCT's traditional rugby opponent; an annual "Intervarsity" match is played between the two universities. UCT has a total exceeding 9000 recognised sports participants.
Looking south on the north end of University Avenue on Upper Campus.
There are more than 80 student societies at UCT; these fall generally into five categories:
- Academic societies for those interested in a particular field of study or studying a particular topic: The most prominent of these include the History and Current Affairs Society (HCA), United Nations Association of South Africa (UNASA) and Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ).
- Political societies, including branches of the youth wings of national political parties such as the South African Students Congress (SASCO), theDemocratic Alliance Students Organisation (DASO), and the African National Congress Youth League.
- Religious societies, some of which are associated with religious denominations or local places of worship.
- National/cultural societies for students from particular countries or particular ethnic backgrounds.
- Special interest societies (such as RainbowUCT, the university's LGBTI society, UCT Mountain & Ski Club, UCT Ballroom and Latin dancing) for those interested in various activities or issues.
In addition to the plethora of student societies, there are several student organisations dedicated to the development of communities surrounding the University in the Cape Metropolitan Area. Some of the biggest include: SHAWCO, Ubunye and RAG. Recently, several students movements have developed, such as the Green Campus Initiative.