Life at Rhodes

Rhodes University is a prestigious institution with a rich student life both on campus and in Makhanda!

Rhodes University has a strong Sense of student community on campus.

Due to the small size and nature of Makhanda, most students at Rhodes will spend at least one year in one of the Residences located on campus. All of the Residences on campus are within walking distance from most lecture venues. This ensures that the Rhodes community is tight-knit and that most students here make long-lasting friendships. Rhodes has a distinctive student atmosphere that is friendly, easy-going and intellectually engaging. Being an exchange at Rhodes means living in a student community where all your study and social resources are not further than a 5- 10 minute walk!

This page is here to help get to know the facilities and resources which shape student life at Rhodes.

For information about life at Rhodes, please browse through or take a look at the general student information regarding student life that is available to all students on .

Please also visit the Admissions Gateway for a detailed rundown of student life at Rhodes.

Support for International students

The staff at Rhodes are easily accessible. Because of the low student-to-lecturer ratio, you can speak to your lecturers about any academic issues that you may encounter. You will also be assigned a student tutor for every course that you take. These students are also available for any queries you may have about the course content. If you need academic support, don't hesitate to speak to either you lecturer or your tutor. For issues and problems that relate to more than just your course content, the following people are here to help you:

  • Director of Student Affairs -Office Tel: +27 (0)46 603 8181 E-mail:
  • The Dean of your faculty
  • Your warden or sub-warden
  • The staff at the International Office

Our office is open Mondays to Fridays from 8:00am to 12:45pm and 14:00pm to 16:30pm for any queries.

We are located in the Eden Grove Building.


Tel: +27 (0)46 603 8217


Rhodes Campus

Rhodes University has a beautiful campus which occupies one corner of Makhanda. The main campus was built in 1904 when the University was founded. Some of the buildings date back to the 1810s when Makhanda was a British fort in the Frontier Wars. Both the Linguistics and the Mathematics departments used to be old barracks, and the Botany Department is situated in a stately old war hospital. The Administration Building, with its distinctive clock tower, mimics the fort-like shape of the buildings that date from that time.

There are also very modern buildings which blend in with the stately older architecture. These buildings are designed to be easy on the eye, with spacious interiors and modern facilities. The International Office and Student Bureau are located in one such building: Eden Grove.

The grounds are otherwise very green, with large open lawns and intriguing plant collections. Adjacent to the university are the sprawling Botanical Gardens which showcase the best parts of the Eastern Cape environment. Students often spend afternoons and weekends enjoying the sunlight in the Botanical Gardens.

Rhodes also has excellent athletics tracks, soccer and rugby fields, tennis courts, an AstroTurf and an Olympic-sized swimming pool, all open to students needing to unwind after a long day of work.

Life in a Rhodes Residence

As a student at Rhodes, you will probably spend your first year in an on-campus residence, also known as ‘res’ by the students. Just over half of all Rhodes students live in res. Most residences are either men only or women only, with the exception of Celeste House and the Postgraduate Residences. Almost all students in res have their own room. Residences are divided into A-grade and B-grade residence. A-grade residences are slightly more comfortable and slightly more expensive, but the overall quality of the accommodation provided at Rhodes is much higher than the South African University standard.

There are 54 residences on campus which are divided amongst 14 dining halls. Some of these residences are as old as the University itself, others have been built in the last 5 years. Older residences tend to be more central than the new ones. Both groups have a vibrant student atmosphere. Rhodes residences are generally small, with between 20 and 200 inhabitants. Students in res are encouraged to take part in residence activities, such as inter-res sports and dining hall formals. However, residences also make accommodation for those students who prefer to be quiet and less social.

Rhodes residences provide a wonderful support system through the House Wardens, Sub-Wardens and house committees.

The Wardens, sub wardens and house committees are always present to ensure that your stay in a Rhodes res is a pleasant one.

You can more information about the different Halls and Residence at Rhodes on


Rhodes University student societies are student-run organisations. We have many different societies here, each centered on their own unique interests. Some societies are leisure or art orientated, such as the Anime Society and Igwijo Society; others, such as Inkwenkwezi, are orientated towards community engagement. You are welcome to join any of (and any number of) these societies. They are great ways to make friends and explore various facets of life at Rhodes.

The Student Representative Council (SRC) Office is responsible for the running of the societies. It is located in the Bantu Stephen Biko Building, and you will be able to get further information about RU societies there. If you are here for the first semester (February-June), you will be able to attend the Societies' Sign-up Evening within the first two weeks of semester to choose the society that best suits your interests. Society and Club membership fees vary from approximately R70.00 to R350.00 depending on the society/club. These costs will be debited to your student account as miscellaneous costs, for which you are liable.

You can find more information about Rhodes societies on


Rhodes University offers a wide range of sports clubs and excellent sporting and fitness facilities. The clubs are student-run, but backed up by the RU Sports Administration. The Health Suite is independently managed ensuring high quality trainers and facilities.

While here, we recommend that you continue whatever sporting interests you have at home as this is a great way to make friends with like-minded people. You may also want to pick up a sport while at Rhodes to experience some of the local sports culture. All sports clubs have a great social life while maintaining a passion for their disciplines.

For a complete list of the 26 sports clubs at Rhodes, please see:

    Sports Clubs

If you want to know what is on offer at the Health Suite, you can visit this site:

The Sports and Health Suite sign-up evening happens within the first two weeks of the first semester every year. If you sign up at the sign-up evening, the amount will be deducted as a miscellaneous expense from your student account. If you sign-up later in the year, you will be asked to pay cash. Sports club and and Health Suite membership fees for students are very affordable considering the benefits and facilities available. You can expect to pay between R200.00 to R1500.00 per club membership, including equipment, kit and tours.


Rhodes University has three Libraries:

RU Library-

The main library is situated in the middle of campus. It was upgraded in 2009 and features a massive selection of books and journals. It also has several quiet and comfortable workspaces where students can study without distraction. There are two computer labs in the library, one of which is devoted to post-graduate students. These computer labs are equipped with scanners, printers and photocopiers. There are special conference rooms and group study rooms which can be booked by students needing to complete group assignments and hold meetings. Furthermore, the library website ensures that Rhodes students have access to a wide range of online academic journals.

Cory Library-                                                                                 

The Cory Library houses historical records and books pertaining to Southern Africa. This library is open to all visitors who want to research family genealogies, early journalism in the area and the cultural and political history of the SADC region. It is situated in the Eden Grove Building.   

Alastair Kerr Law Library-

The Law Library, known as the Alastair Kerr Law Library, is named after a former Head of Department at the Law Faculty. It is mainly a reference library, and most items may not be removed from the library by undergraduates. Resources include law reports, legislation and other government publications, reference works, books and journals. The library has five photocopiers. Note that money can only be loaded onto student cards at the Main Library and at the Student Bureau.

The PPS Wing is an extension to the library that was added in 1999. This is mainly a study area, which includes three group study rooms. Primary sources like law reports, reference works and dictionaries are shelved here.

The Law Library has desk space for 88 students and has a computer lab with 30 computers and two printers.


Health services

Health Care Centre-

Rhodes University has an on-campus health care centre. Students wishing to see a medical professional are welcome to visit our health care centre free of charge. The professionals here are capable of helping you with colds, 'flu, headaches and most regular complaints. They are also able to do HIV testing and provide the necessary counselling. In the case of a serious complaint, the health care professionals will be able to refer you to a local specialist designated by your medical aid or to see a Doctor at the Town hospital, Settlers Hospital.

Contact: 046 603 8523 or email 

Counselling services

Counselling centre-

Rhodes offers Student Counselling for all of its students free of charge. Should you require ANY counselling while you are at Rhodes, please visit our counsellors at the Counselling Centre. The Student Counselling Centre is located on the top floor of the Student Union Building on Prince Alfred Street and is open Monday to Friday from 08h00 – 17h00.  To contact the Student Counselling Centre for more information, call them at (046) 603 7070 during office hours or email

The 24 hour emergency line is:  082 803 0177



Campus Protection Unit

Rhodes University is a safe campus. Despite having no visible boundaries between the campus and town, students are safe to walk around all areas of the Rhodes campus at any time of the day or night. The campus is guarded by the Campus Protection Unit (046 603 8146) located just next to Hobson Hall.  The Unit is open 24 hours per day and provides highly visible patrols on campus.  Students can arrange for a guard to walk them home at night from anywhere on campus. There are also panic buttons situated at key points throughout campus. If you are in immediate physical danger, you can either phone the CPU number or press the nearest SOS Button for an immediate response.

Website: Campus Protection Unit

Computer Labs

Although all residences are equipped with very good internet connections, Rhodes accommodates for the fact that not all students will have personal computers. The University has several high-speed computer labs from which you can connect to the Internet. These labs provide a quiet work environment for all of our students and are all equipped with printers.

The most popular are:

    The Jacaranda ("Jac") Labs on Artillery Road by the School of Languages

    The Eden Grove Labs in the Eden Grove Building

    The Union Labs in the Bantu Stephen Biko Building (previously "the Union") on Prince Alfred Road

If you want to find out more about the Rhodes computer labs, please see

Eduroam (Internet connectivity)

Eduroam is a secure, world-wide roaming access service developed for the international research and education community. It allows students, researchers and staff from participating institutions to obtain Internet connectivity across campus and when visiting other participating institutions by simply opening their laptop.

How to use this service at Rhodes:

    Check if your home institution participates in eduroam.

    Connect to the eduroam-test wireless network at Rhodes to get free Internet access.

    Authenticate with your home institution's credentials (you may need to make arrangements with them for this to work).

The eduroam-test wireless network for visitors offers limited Internet access, including email and web browsing. It does not provide access to Rhodes' internal network.

For more information, please see:


Overseas mail can take between 10 and 14 days to arrive.  Parcels are likely to be inspected by customs and high charges are often levied by customs on the value of parcels entering the country.  We recommend that for all parcels sent, the sender gets a tracking number to help you trace your parcel.

Should you require items to be posted to you, you can use either your residence’s postal address, or the International Office’s postal address (See Contacts).  If you use the International Office postal address, we will email you when your letter or parcel arrives.


The Student Representative Council (SRC) is the active voice of the Student Body. It represents the students' interests and concerns to Rhodes Administrative structures and at Senate Meetings. The SRC is responsible for the running of student societies. They also aim to create a great student atmosphere on campus, arranging social events and ensuring that students get access to facilities that make living at Rhodes comfortable.

There is an SRC Councilor responsible for the interests of all international students at Rhodes. You are welcome to visit this councilor to relay any concerns you may have about life at Rhodes. The councilor’s email address is

For more information, please see the SRC website.


Rhodes has its own Radio station: Rhodes Music Radio 89.7fm also known as RMR. This is a student radio station which plays a wide range of music. RMR often provides music for sports and social events at Rhodes. Tune in while you are here; or, if you think you have the talent, why not ask if they have a spot for you to DJ? For more information on RMR, visit their website.

Community Engagement

Makhanda, home to Rhodes University, is situated in the Eastern Cape which is one of the poorest provinces in South Africa. Facing Rhodes University across the valley lives 65 000 of the total population of 80 000 in the Makana municipal area, more than half of whom are unemployed. Rhodes University fulfils an active role in the community development of Makhanda and the Eastern Cape through focused and targeted interventions within its area of expertise. Following national policy on higher education, Community Engagement (CE) is located as a core function of Rhodes University and integral to teaching, learning and research.

The university is involved in a diverse range of community initiatives in the Eastern Cape, through both staff and students. These take place on many different levels, from involvement at government policy level and ground-breaking research, to practical, strategic volunteer interventions at a community level. Rhodes University’s community engagement initiatives are centrally coordinated through the Community Engagement Directorate and networked with its community development partners, which include NGOs, CBOs, institutions, government and the private sector, ensuring effective intervention to the mutual benefit of students and our community.

Volunteerism and volunteer activities form an important part of the student experience and learning at university. Volunteering provides students with opportunities to learn outside the classroom environment, acquiring essential critical thinking, leadership, project management and interpersonal skills. Through hands on volunteering experience, students are afforded the opportunity to share their skills and learn from peers and community partners. The volunteer experience is a team experience, promoting civic consciousness and critical engagement that assist students to gain a better understanding of their social environment.


Contact:  and 046 603 8573

Religious Life at Rhodes- This excludes the township churches.

Rhodes is a University which undertakes to respect the different cultures and religious communities represented in the student body. While Rhodes has no religious stance of its own, it promotes understanding, respect and communication between people of different religious convictions and backgrounds.

Makhnada is known as the 'City of the Saints' with around fifty churches, many of them historic monuments. The city Cathedral faces the entrance of the University, and the beauty of this building is to be admired by the religious and non-religious alike. It is open to be viewed on Sunday afternoons and during the week. All major Christian denominations have congregations in Makhanda. Makhanda also has a Hindu temple which can be visited by Hindu students.

On campus, there are two places of worship. The Chapel of St Mary and all the Saints has weekly services for Anglican students. Rhodes also has prayer facilities for Muslim students.

Rhodes dining halls accommodate for the religious dietary needs of the students, with a Hindu/Halaal and a vegetarian option being available for every meal. There are also thriving religious student societies which offer spiritual support for religious students away from home.


Leisure Activities

Makhanda is in the middle of the Eastern Cape, and is halfway between our two major coastal cities: Durban and Cape Town. While in South Africa, you will definitely want to travel and see beautiful Cape Town and experience Durban's metropolitan atmosphere. But, the Eastern Cape has lots to offer too, and you'll find it much cheaper to travel. Makhanda is only 60km from the pristine beach towns of Kenton-on-Sea and Port Alfred. To the North, there are beautiful mountain ranges which are often snow-capped in winter. A popular destination that is only 140km from Makhanda is the tiny hamlet of Hogsback in the mountains. When it is not snowing, you can walk through the dense and mystical forests that surround this town. To the West, one finds the otherworldly Karroo. This semi-arid landscape is captivating, with crystal clear night skies for stargazing. Here, you will find many farm bed-and-breakfasts where you can stay and enjoy the wildlife.

Makhanda is also surrounded by game farms and is close to the Addo Elephant Park. It is easy to see big game in the area. If you have not been game viewing before, we recommend that you book a trip while you are here.

If you want to find out more about traveling in South Africa, please see Travel and Tourism for information on leisure activities in the Eastern Cape and on touring South Africa.

Student Perspectives

Here are several student perspectives on life at Rhodes:

  •  [Deutsch/German] Clemens Höfer's Blog
  • [Deutsch/German] Nina Weber's Blog
  • [Nederlands/Dutch] Michelle Timmer'sBlog

Last Modified: Fri, 15 Oct 2021 15:01:09 SAST