July 14, 2014

South Africa – Emerging Destination in Higher Education for International Students

Written by a Guest Contributor

If you are considering a study-abroad programme and wish to apply in the African Continent, South Africa is definitely the best option. The country has fast emerged as one of the best destinations for higher education in the recent past.

This article takes a down to earth and practical look at the pros and cons likely to be considered by international students and other African students wishing to study in South Africa.

Read on to know more.

Pursuing Higher Studies in South Africa

Once appalled across the globe for its rigid apartheid practices, today the entire South African society has evolved considerably. With a sound economy and growing infrastructure, the system of education in the country has also registered a strong progress in the recent past.


While national parks and wildlife safaris continue to be trademarks of the Dark Continent, the vast expanses in the economy and education realm of the continent has been attracting hundreds of international students towards South Africa.

Top South African universities have opened their doors to international students. With each passing day, international students from the African continent and other parts of the world are shifting focus towards South Africa.

South African universities are known for their quality of education provided and continuously feature among the top world university rankings. The University of Cape Town is currently ranked at 125th in the world university rankings. Major South African cities like Johannesburg, Durban and Pretoria all boast of a sound education system and public universities in these cities have registered application from several international students.

University System in South Africa

If you are one of those who want to experience life and study in one of the most complex and diverse countries of the world, you must choose to study in South Africa. Undergraduate full-time programmes are of 3-years’ duration in a South African university.

Public universities in South Africa can be divided into three types – traditional, technical and comprehensive. There 23 public universities in South Africa are 3 types of universities in the country. Let’s explore them a little further:

Traditional Universities

These universities are the academic universities which offer a broad range of academic courses. Names include Rhodes University, University of Cape Town, University of Fort Hare and others.

Universities of Technology

These universities are also known as “Technikons” and offer more of vocational courses that are technical in nature. The courses offered in these universities have varying durations depending on the course requirements. Names include Central University of Technology, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Durban University of Technology and others.

Comprehensive Universities

These universities offer an exhaustive combination of both academic and technical qualifications. Institutes like University of Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and University of South Africa are the best known universities in this category.

Admissions for International Students in South African Universities

International students applying in South African universities must have completed secondary school examinations. However, all international students need to secure a South African study permit at the South African High Commission, Embassy, Consulate in their own country.

Similarly, to go onto a postgraduate or Masters Course, you will need an undergraduate degree in a related course from one of the accredited universities in your country.

A strong academic background is very much essential as it can ensure easy entry into any of the top South African universities.

However, for a more exclusive breakdown of the admissions requisites or eligibility criteria on a specific course, visit the official website of the university and send them an online enquiry. Though, a majority of courses in South African universities and colleges are typically taught in English, but, since South Africa is home to around 11 official languages, subsuming Zulu and Afrikaans, it’s always better to check before you apply.

Tuition Fees and Cost of Living

When you compare the course fees in South African universities to other established destinations in the world, you will find it relatively economical to study in this country. For example, studying LLM course in Civil law in the University of Cape Town would cost an Indian student around 60,000 INR excluding an international fee of approx. 15000 INR per semester which is considerably lower than education institutes in UK, Europe and Canada. However, the cost structure varies from time to time; therefore, ensure that you enquire the exact tuition fee in your chosen university before filling up the admission form.

Like tuition fees, the cost of living in South Africa is also not as high as it is in countries like UK, US, Canada and countries in Europe. A three course meal in any good restaurant and average cost of rent of a one bedroom city apartment are quite affordable. Apart from this, the students with international student visa are allowed to work for a specific number of hours every week to support their expenses.

Funding the College education in South Africa

Though funding for international students might not be rampant in South Africa, but there are some institutions that offer scholarship to international students in order to cover a part of their course fee. But, a majority of South African education institutions offer scholarships and bursaries only to South African nationals and the students hailing from other African countries.

Author Bio
Sampurna Majumder is a professional writer and a passionate blogger. Currently she is writing content for several websites such as Shiksha.Com that cover latest trends related to education in India and abroad such as these. The above post focuses on higher studies for international students in South Africa.

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