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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who is eligible to be considered for an elective placement?

    We accept visiting students from other health sciences faculties who are in their second last year or final (clinical) year of study only.

    All applicants must have a good command of the English language as all teaching and instruction is conducted in English.

  • Disciplines which offer elective placements

    All visiting elective students may apply for a placement in the following departments and hospitals under the auspices of the University of Cape Town:

    Groote Schuur Hospital - Observatory, Cape Town
    General Medicine Dermatology
    General Surgery Neurology
    Trauma Paediatrics (Endrocrinology)
    Emergency (Medical) Ophthalmology
    Obstetrics and Gynaecology Psychiatry
    Cardio-thoracic Surgery Neurosurgery
    Orthopaedic Surgery Plastic Surgery
    Infectious diseases/HIV Medicine Otorhinolaryngology (ENT)
    Family Medicine Forensic Medicine
    Radiology Gastroenterology (Medical or Surgical)

    Emergency Unit: Falls under the Department of Medicine. This is where patients come with emergency illnesses and injuries, some of which may be life-threatening. Examples might include sudden severe stomach pains, shortness of breath, or severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea.

    Trauma Unit: Falls under the Department of Surgery. The Unit provides comprehensive emergency services to patients who have traumatic injuries. Examples of traumatic injuries include those sustained in automobile accidents, gunshot wounds, stab wounds etc.

    Red Cross Children's Hospital Rondebosch, Cape Town
    General Paediatric Medicine Paediatric Surgery
    Paediatric Trauma Paediatric Neurology
    Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgery Paediatric Cardiology


    Somerset Hospital Green Point, Cape Town
    Medicine Paediatrics
    Obstetrics and Gynaecology Surgery


    Victoria Hospital                  Plumstead, Cape Town
    General Surgery Trauma


    *Mitchells Plain Hospital – Mitchells Plain, Cape Town
    General Medicine Emergency Centre (combined, paediatric, adult, medical and trauma)
    General Surgery Anaesthesia
    Paediatrics Obstetrics and Gynaecology

    *This hospital operates in the Mitchells Plain Health District of the Metro Region. 

    *George Regional Hospital - George, Western Cape
    General Medicine Psychiatry
    General Surgery Physiotherapy
    Emergency Medical Services/Family Medicine Occupational Therapy
    Paediatrics/Neonatology Obstetrics and Gynaecology
    Orthopaedic Surgery Ophthalmology

    *This hospital serves the population of Eden and Central Karoo Districts. 

  • Registration with the University

    Registration with this University is required for the duration of the elective period at Groote Schuur or Red Cross Children’s Hospital and associated hospitals.  Students must, on arrival in Cape Town, report to the Elective Officer at the Faculty Office, Faculty of Health Sciences, Anzio Road, Observatory, between 08h30 and 12h30, in order to be registered.  Students who have not paid their full fee in advance will not be registered and may not start their elective clerkship until this has been done. Students who are placed at Victoria and New Somerset hospital must report at those hospitals after registration at the Faculty of Health Sciences.

  • Fees

    1. Clinical elective rotation fees

      The cost per two week rotation is R 7 500 and includes the Health Professions Council of South Africa registration fee.Please note that the Faculty reserves the right to increase the fees on an annual basis.
    2. HPCSA registration fees

      All students completing a Clinical Elective must be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). Kindly note that this fee is already included in your elective rotation fees.

      All fees may be paid in the form of an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT).
  • Accommodation

    Students must make their own arrangements for accommodation. There is no accommodation available in the University residences.

  • Study visas

    All non - South African students are required to obtain study permits if the elective period exceeds 90 days, before they enter South Africa. As soon as we have received a student's completed forms and HPCSA payment, we will send the student a letter confirming the elective placement. The student must then apply to the nearest South African Consulate-General or Embassy for a study visa. When applying for your study permit/visa the following is normally required: You will most likely require two passport-size photographs, a letter from this Faculty of Health Sciences confirming your elective placement and indicating that you have been registered with the Health Professions Council, a guarantee that you are able to cover your repatriation fee to your country of origin, provision of proof of comprehensive medical insurance / health coverage and a letter from your own University confirming that you are visiting South Africa for an elective placement.

    If the duration of your stay is 90 days or less, you need not apply for a study permit; you will be issued with a visitor's visa however you must contact the nearest South African Consulate/Embassy in this regard.

  • Insurance cover

    Once registered with the University, students will have professional indemnity cover (but please note that the excess is very high) and will have limited personal insurance cover. It would be advisable for you to take out additional insurance in your own country before your visit.

    Apart from the above scheme, the University provides no other cover for bodily injury, illness or death of students and no cover for personal possessions, including motor vehicles, even where a student may be involved in compulsory academic activity. Students must arrange their own personal insurance cover.

  • Professional conduct and dress code

    Undergraduate students are expected to act in accordance with the ethical norms laid down by the Health Professions Council of South Africa.  Students who are found guilty of unprofessional conduct will have their registration terminated and a letter will be written to their home university to report their transgression/s.

    Professional conduct includes an appropriate dress code, particularly when students are in contact with patients.   Students must be neat and presentable; excessive casual or suggestive clothing is not acceptable. Students who come for clinical elective placements must wear a white coat at all times while on duty, and must bring such white coat with them.

    Students are supplied with an identification card upon arrival, which must be worn at all times while on duty.

    Students may be denied access to a particular clinical area if, in the view of the manager of the area, they are not suitably dressed.

    Students must  also  bring their own white coats and stethoscopes.   Theatre gowns and gloves will be supplied by the hospital.

  • Research ethics requirements for elective students doing a research project

    If a student, as part of an elective placement, wishes to conduct a research project involving human participants or their personal medical records, they need ethics approval.  Also, it must be established in advance whether an appropriate supervisor can be identified for such a student in advance of the student’s visit. The research project must be feasible and at the student’s level of expertise.

    [Note: The research proposal must undergo two separate review processes.  First, the relevant departmental research committee will review the scientific and scholarly merit of the proposal.  Second, the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) in the Faculty of Health Sciences will review ethical aspects of the application.  A student’s local supervisor at his/her home university should assist with these applications.  Even if the student’s proposal has ethical approval in his/her home institution, it still needs UCT research ethics approval.

    If you are joining a study that already has research ethics approval, your local supervisor still needs to obtain HREC approval to include you in the existing research.

    You also need to ask your local supervisor if you must obtain additional administrative approval or authorisation from medical superintendents or managers to conduct your research, including accessing personal medical records, in specific settings such as hospitals, community-based health centres and non-governmental organisations.

    It is advisable to obtain ethics approval six months in advance of a research elective visit.  Before submitting your proposal to the HREC, you need to make sure it complies with the ethical principles laid down in the Declaration of Helsinki and  the  Research  Ethics  Guidelines of  the  South  African  (SA) Department of Health, 2004. Your research must also comply with SA law, for instance the requirements for informed consent and special considerations when undertaking research among minors (<18 years of age).

    For more information about how to apply for research ethics approval contact Mrs Lamees Emjedi, the Administrative Officer in the HREC. Her email address is