Practical information

Making your transition into student life in South Africa a little easier

As long as you turn up to class and make a concerted effort to engage with the professors and the material, you’re on the right track. Also, although you will go over all the material in class, it would be a huge boost if you skimmed through your booklet before you arrive in Cape Town.

Mostakim Habib, University of London

#Cape Town 2016 16.9

Once you have a confirmed offer for the LSE-UCT Summer School, it's important that you investigate and organise for the following:

Visas, travel and accommodation

Visa, travel and arrival

LSE-UCT Summer School participants are responsible organise their own visas, travel and arrival plans, however we are happy to offer advice if needed.

Nationals of many countries are able to travel to South Africa for two weeks without a visa, or to apply for a tourist visa on arrival in the country. However, it is the responsibility of participants to confirm their specific visa requirements and application procedures with the South African embassy or mission in their country of residence prior to departure.

Please visit our travel and visa page for information and guidance. Please contact us with any questions.


LSE-UCT Summer School participants are responsible to find and organise their own accommodation, however a number of rooms have been reserved on campus at Graca Machel Hall for LSE-UCT Summer School participants.

Please visit our accommodation page for more information.


Personal Insurance 

The LSE-UCT Summer School does not provide insurance cover for participants. Prior to leaving your home country or joining the programme in Cape Town, you need to make a decision about the level of insurance cover appropriate to the possessions you will bring with you. Although you will be able to take simple steps to protect your possessions, electronic equipment (such as laptops, iPods and digital cameras) are highly sought after by petty thieves and, therefore, should be considered ‘at risk’. You should also consider luggage insurance, in case your bags are lost in transit.

Medical Insurance 

Please ensure you have purchased personal medical insurance in advance of arriving at the LSE-UCT Summer School. It is imperative that you have your medical insurance details with you at all times.

Health and Safety

Medical Care

Cape Town has a number of world-class hospitals with their own emergency rooms. The University of Cape Town makes use of private emergency ambulance provider ‘ER24’ (+27 (0)84 124 / Alternatively, there is a second provider called ‘Netcare911’ (+27 (0)82 911 / Please note that you will be responsible for the cost of an ambulance should you need one, so participants should ensure that their travel or medical insurance covers this cost.

South African doctor’s prescriptions can be easily filled in one of the nearby pharmacies. We recommend, however, that if at all possible you bring an adequate, labelled supply of any prescription medicines you regularly take as ingredients in medications sometimes vary from one country to another (remember to keep them in their original containers). Also, please note that medication names vary from country to country, so consult a pharmacist if you are unsure. We ask that you declare any known illnesses/allergies, in confidence, to the staff at the LSE-UCT Summer School so that we have access to this information should an emergency arise.

It should also be noted that South Africa has a high incidence of HIV and AIDS (approx. 25% of men and women). The most prevalent means of transmission of the HIV virus is through unprotected sexual intercourse. Please bear in mind that the consumption of alcohol can lead to sexual risk-taking behaviour and may make you vulnerable.


We will provide safety advice during the orientation regarding safety both on- and off-campus.

It is your responsibility to learn which actions and areas are safe and which may put you at risk. If you are unsure about a situation or activity, ask a colleague from UCT and do not walk alone, especially after dark – it is safer to travel in groups of four or more. Additionally, do not display cameras, smartphones or laptops unnecessarily. If you will be hiring a car, ensure that you lock all doors when driving with windows rolled up and always keep valuables and belongings out of sight. 

Whilst none of our students have experienced any problems during the Summer School, this warning is provided to ensure that you have the best time possible.



We suggest that you have local currency (South African Rand – ZAR/‘R’) on you when you arrive in South Africa as you may not be able to cash traveller’s cheques immediately or have access to a bank. R1,000 should be enough to keep you going until you are able to visit a bank. There are ATMs in the Leslie Social Science Building and also in the Library at the Chancellor Oppenheimer Building.

When at any ATM in South Africa, do not accept ‘help’ from strangers who try talking to you or tell you they wish to explain how ATMs work – they work exactly the same as in other countries and this could be a ruse to see your PIN number or to steal your money.

Traveller’s cheques are always a safe way to carry larger sums of money; however, should you choose to bring cards with you please remember to notify your bank of your travel plans so that the bank does not freeze your account or think the cards have been stolen. If you have an account which is linked to the CIRRUS system you will be able to withdraw cash at South African ATMs bearing the CIRRUS signs.

Power and mobiles/ cell phones


South Africa runs on 220/240V 15 amp power. The main power outlet type is ‘M’ type but ‘C’ type plugs with two prongs work with an adaptor. Please ensure you bring the correct adaptors and that any electrical appliances (hairdryers, etc) are suitable for use in a 250 volt system.

Mobiles/ cell phones

Check with your cell phone/mobile provider whether your phone will work in South Africa, prior to departure. Also, check roaming data rates to avoid ending up with a big bill! Otherwise, you can easily buy a South African SIM card at the airport when you land. The best service providers for Cape Town area are Vodacom or MTN.


June and July are winter months in South Africa, and Cape Town’s weather is very changeable during these months. Participants should also be aware that many UCT buildings are NOT centrally heated, so if you want to be warm, dress warmly. Of course ‘cold’ is relative: Cape Town’s average July rainfall is 82mm (3.2 inches) and the temperature range is from 8°C to 18°C (46°F to 64°F). Rainproof jackets are a must, especially as umbrellas are often victims of Cape Town’s north westerly winds. Our best advice is to dress in layers with a good waterproof, light-weight jacket, and wear warm clothing underneath.

Day Zero and what about water?

As you may be aware during 2018 Cape Town suffered from a drought. At UCT, researchers have been busy behind the scenes analysing the causes of the drought, looking into water usage in the city and on campus, studying how neighbouring countries have been successfully dealing with drought, and looking for ways in which to save water for the future. You can find out more here.

South Africa is quickly setting the standard for water wise tourism. Driven by the global problem of climate change, South Africa is positively changing its relationship with water and encouraging everyone to become more water wise. Read more about the creative and innovative solutions locals have been embracing in order to successful avoid Day Zero, and become the ecelpory example for the rest of the world.

How this might this effect you

We take the health and safety of our participants very seriously. If we think that conditions in Cape Town could be of potential risk for LSE-UCT Summer School participants we will be the first to communicate this and work to make alternative arrangements.

Here are some practical tips from Sumona Bose, LSE-UCT Summer School alumni and recent UCT graduate

  • Don’t be callous with water. As vague as this sounds, it does have weight. Water is a privilege now and must be used sparingly. Every drop counts.
  • Carry a bottle of water throughout the day wherever you go, to avoid drinking from taps outdoors.
  • Buy a stock of water from sources and avoid using multiple taps at once. Stick to one tap, let it rain from one tap!
  • 5 minute showers; students will know this the best (even when late to class). Have a 5 minute shower to avoid running water off to drain.
  • Brush your teeth and shower all in one go, at the same time!
  • Carry sanitisers and wet wipes. These are very effective.

If you would like to hear more from Sumona and her experience on the LSE-UCT Summer School, check out our alumni page.