Study in South Africa


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Study in South Africa:

Situated at the southern-most tip of the African continent, South Africa is a land of adventure and beauty. South Africa’s diverse landscape is made up of mountains, forests, deserts, and 3,000 kilometers of rugged coastline. The wildlife native to South Africa is among the most unique in the world, ranging from whales to dung beetles and everything between. And with South Africa’s sunny, warm weather throughout most of the year, there is plenty of time to enjoy the great outdoors!

About Studying in South Africa:

South Africa boasts both the strongest and largest higher education system in the region, and is the most popular place to study in Africa. Students from around the world flock to South Africa’s world-class facilities where they study at South African schools within education programmes unlike anywhere else. In fact, South Africa ranks 11th as a preferred destination for international students to pursue their education.

South Africa is often referred to as the Rainbow Nation for the dozens of African ethnic groups and their cultures who live within the country. This diversity provides a unique, progressive educational environment for students to learn about and from each other throughout their academic voyage in South Africa.

 South Africa in short facts & figures:

Capital: Pretoria (executive), Bloemfontein (judicial), Cape Town (legislative)
Area: 1,221,037 square kilometers
Official Languages: 11
Population: 51 million
Government: Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic
Currency: South African rand (ZAR)
GDP per capita: $13,321
Calling Code: +27

In this Study in South Africa guide:

South Africa is placing a renewed focus on the importance of higher education with regards to a country’s social, economic, and community development. With this in mind, South Africa is strengthening the global partnerships which are emerging through a growing higher education sector, drawing more international students than ever before to South Africa’s schools. South Africa attracted almost 65,000 foreign students in 2010 (about a quarter of whom were postgraduate) who constituted over 7% of the entire student population. And the number is only growing as South Africa draws an increasing number of students from countries like the United States. The knowledge these international students gain in South Africa changes its students who, in turn, graduate to change the world.

This Study in South Africa guide includes all the information you need to make your dream of studying in South Africa become a reality, whether you already live in South Africa or have never been there. From South Africa’s education system and course types to in-depth guides for its major cities, this study guide offers everything you need to know for an education in South Africa.

South Africa’s Education System:

South Africa’s education system has re-developed its focus toward helping graduates achieve a global, multicultural competitiveness – in some ways, a natural result of South Africa’s diverse population. With a current drive to boost their infrastructure, South African universities are also playing a greater role in the country’s development, addressing the fundamental needs of South Africans: maximizing innovation, reducing poverty, and creating jobs. Simultaneously, South African schools are seeking solutions to international problems, achieved through teaching, research, and community outreach.

South Africa is an ideal place to study the challenges of developing countries and of Africa itself. Education courses of study in South Africa often charge lower fees than many developed nations for excellent qualifications. In addition, students enrolled in education programmes in South Africa have the unique opportunity to collaborate with internationally-recognized local scholars in their fields of specialty.

South Africa’s Education Institutes:

Most students of higher education in South Africa study at one of 26 public universities in the country. Public universities offer a variety of qualifications including diplomas, national certificates, undergraduate, and postgraduate degrees. Since the mid-1990s, public universities in South Africa have doubled in number of students.

There are 3 types of public universities in South Africa:

  • Traditional universities in South Africa– offer Bachelor’s degrees and strong research
  • Technology universities in South Africa– vocationally-focused, award diplomas, degrees, and higher certificates; there are 8 technology universities in the country
  • Comprehensiveuniversities in South Africa – teaching-focused, offer Bachelor’s degrees and technology qualifications

South Africa’s public universities conduct research to support their teaching, making up 80% of all basic research conducted in the country. South Africa is also establishing 2 national institutes, which will offer additional locations for rural students to access higher education without traveling long distances.

There are 114 private institutions of higher education in South Africa. Many of these private schools in South Africa offer advanced, vocationally-focused diplomas and certificates. Popular fields of study are media, technology, commerce, management, and computing.

Language & Student Life in South Africa:

Although South Africa has 11 official languages, the primary language of instruction is English. Students who come to study in South Africa from non-English speaking countries must show their proficiency in English through one of the following:

  • An IELTS test score of 7.0 for graduate studentsor 6.0 for undergraduate students
  • A TOEFL score of 550
  • Pass an examination equivalent toSouth Africa’s English Higher Grade Senior Certificate level
  • Pass Englishat GCE A-level or O-level or International Baccalaureate

Higher education institutions in South Africa usually offer a wide range of extra-curriculum activities, whether through clubs, sports, societies, or events. There are also many community programmes, both academic and voluntary, which provide students the opportunity to interact with area locals and get to know the real South Africa.

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Study Visas in South Africa:

Study & Work Permits in South Africa

In order to study abroad in South Africa, international students must obtain a South African study visa before doing so. To get a visa for South Africa, students must contact the South African High Commission, Consulate, or Embassy in their country of residence. Upon entry into South Africa, this visa is endorsed to serve as a temporary residence permit.

The process of obtaining a study visa for South Africa usually takes about 6 weeks. International students cannot be registered in their university until they have a valid study visa.

Requirements for a study visa are the following:

  • Passport valid no less than 30 days after the end of your course. Your passport must have two consecutive, clear pages for entry/departure stamps.
  • A completed form BI-1738.
  • Proof of payment for the visa application.
  • Two color passport-sized photographs.
  • Official letter of confirmation from the South African higher education institution detailing the duration of your course, and undertaking to provide notice of registration/de-registration and course completion/extension within the allotted time period.
  • Proof of sufficient funds for fees and living expenses for the duration of your stay.
  • Proof of medical or health insurance, and a letter confirming this will be renewed annually for the duration of your stay. Depending on where you’re travelling from, you may also need a yellow-fever vaccination certificate. South Africa is mostly malaria-free, however inoculations against hepatitis A and typhoid are recommended before travel.
  • Medical and radiological reports from within last six months.
  • Details of accommodation arrangements in South Africa.
  • If you’re under 18: written permission from both parents or from a sole custody parent including proof of sole custody; details of the person in South Africa who will act as your guardian including a letter of confirmation from them.
  • If you’re over 18: a police clearance certificate for every country you’ve resided in for more than 12 months since the age of 18.
  • If you have children (minors) travelling with you or joining you in South Africa, you will need to provide proof of guardianship or custody or consent from the guardian.

Once the study visa has been issued, international students in South Africa may only study at the institute to which they’ve applied. Changing schools requires changing the study visa, a process which can be done within South Africa. Students with study visas may work part-time for up to 20 hours per week during their studies and full-time during study holidays.

Different requirements apply for a part-time study visa, which may be obtained through an endorsement for students who already have a Business or Work visa in South Africa. International students can contact their closest South African High Commission, Consulate, or Embassy for more details.

This information was provided by our friends over at For more information about study visas in South Africa, visit their webpage here:

Study Costs & Accommodation in South Africa:

Nearly all institutions of higher education in South Africa have student support offices to help students settle into their chosen education programmes. These offices provide aid to students in finding accommodation that most suits their needs. On-campus residential accommodation is offered at most universities in South Africa; otherwise, accommodation is available within close proximity to schools’ campuses.

South Africa’s cost of living is relatively low. Average costs of R 8,000 (about 980 USD) per month can be estimated for students’ accommodation, food, bills, and travel. This low cost means students spend less during their studies in South Africa than they would in most developed countries. As for tuition fees in South Africa, amounts vary depending on school and education programme.


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