South Africa

South Africa 1If you want to travel in southern Africa then South Africa is a good place to start. While you can fly into any country in southern Africa, most flights will route through South Africa anyway. South Africa is also a good place to get used to travelling in the region (though some would argue that Namibia is better for that). Of course South Africa is not only a jumping off point, it is itself a superb destination rich in culture, fauna & flora and history.

The tip of Africa has been home to the Khoisan (collective name for Hottentot (Koi) and Bushmen (San)) people for thousands of years. Their rock art can still be found in many places throughout South Africa. It is estimated that Bantu tribes may have started to slowly expand into the northernmost areas of what is today Southern Africa around 2,500 years ago and by around 500 AD the different cultural groups had been established in the lush areas to the north and east of the what is today known as Eastern South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The desert and semi-desert areas of the Western and Northern Cape provinces, as well as the western parts of the Eastern Cape province remained unsettled by the Bantu as the arid climate, limited seasonal rainfall, sparse vegetation and scarcity of natural sources of water could not sustain large migrations of people and herds of cattle, cattle being the primary livestock reared by the Bantu and fulfilling numerous cultural and economic functions within the tribal society (cattle served as a rudimentary currency and basic unit of exchange with a mutually agreeable value between bartering parties, thus fulfilling the function of money).

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Tuition fees

Tuition fees vary widely between institutions and courses.

  • At Wits they range from R94,700 up to R177,770 (£5,987–11,239) for clinical courses. At Cape Town, international students pay a minimum (R70,000/£4,425) of the standard course fee plus an international student fee of R35,000 (£2,213) a year (total minimum R110,000/£6,955).
  • In addition, Wits, for example, recommends that students budget for an additional R6,000 (£380) for books and stationery.

There is little in the way of financial support for international students outside Africa. International students are not eligible for support from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (the South African government student loan and bursary scheme)

  • The major banks offer student loans to non-South Africans with valid study permits.
  • Bank loans, unlike NSFAS loans, will also cover studies at a private institution.
  • When applying for a bank loan, you will have to show proof of registration at an educational institution. You’ll also need a parent or guardian, to stand surety.
Student accommodation

Universities will have accommodation on campus for international students.

  • At Wits, for example, the most expensive option including all meals is R44,000 (£2,782) although cheaper options are available.
  • Private board and lodging for 10 months will cost a minimum R3,500 (£221) per month and the university recommends budgeting for a total annual cost of R56,000 (£3,540).
Costs of living

The cost of living in South Africa is relatively cheap in comparison to the UK.

  • An average person would need around R1,500 (£95) for food a month, which breaks down to about R50 (£3.16) per day.
  • Many students will live in university residences with an all-in catering deal so additional costs are for social activities.
Some typical costs in South Africa (GBP, March 2015) include:
  • Apartment rent, 1 bedroom: £196 – £231 per month
  • Meal, inexpensive restaurant: £4.35
  • Meal at McDonalds: £2.72
  • Domestic beer (0.5 litre draught): £1.09
  • Imported beer (0.33 litre bottle): £1.19
  • Cappuccino: £0.99
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle): £0.52
  • Water (0.33 litre bottle): £0.43
  • Loaf of bread: £0.60
  • Cigarettes: £1.86
  • One-way ticket local transport: £0.65
  • Cinema ticket: £2.99

If you want to study in a country that is diverse, has an excellent academic reputation, and offers a culture that is revered by almost every other nation, you need look no further than South Africa. One of the most popular destinations for studying abroad, South Africa is an excellent choice for any prospective international student.

South Africa, also known as “Republic of South Africa (RSA)” is situated in the southern part of Africa. It is the 25th largest country in the globe by land area that extends along the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean. It encompasses a varied group of people, culture, religion and languages.

South African Educational Background: Snapshot

Education in South Africa has transformed substantially. In the middle 17th Century was the first European school established in Cape Colony. In 1663, second school was opened. Peripatetic teachers used to teach basic math and language. New procedures on school organization were introduced in 1714. Between 1860 and end of 19th century many schools were opened, and new rules and procedures were initiated. Also, basic and higher or tertiary education was structured as separate educational institutions. In 1829, the South African government established South African College, now called as University of Cape Town. During 1984-1990 periods, education was made mandatory for all, but the age varies depending upon the racial groups. In 1996, the South African Schools Acts was put into effect that emphasized on uniform system and in 1997, a new education system called “Curriculum 2005-Outcome based Education” was initiated by the government.

South African Education System Profile

Education in South Africa is managed and regulated by two national departments-

  • Department of Basic Education (DBE): This department is in charge of charge of basic education that encompasses primary as well as secondary education.
  • Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET): This department is in charge for higher education and vocational training institutions, adult basic education and training (ABET), and further education and training (FET) colleges.

South Africa possesses a single national education system that is administered by the national Department of Education and the nine provincial departments.

In South Africa, as per the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996, the state holds a responsibility to make basic education available to all the local individuals. All South Africans have the right to a basic education, along with further education and adult basic education.

South African Educational Facts

The South African higher education system includes 24 public higher education institutions:

  • 11 universities
  • 6 comprehensive universities
  • 6 universities of technology
  • 2 to be created

In public higher education institutions-

  • Total Academic Staff: 49, 983
  • Total Staff: 131, 600

The public higher education institutions intake-

  • Total Students: 9, 38, 200
  • Undergraduate students 7, 66, 626
  • Postgraduate students 1, 48, 035

The public higher education institutions qualifications-

  • Qualification at all levels: 1, 60, 624
  • Qualifications in business and commerce: 2, 88, 487
  • Qualifications in science and technology: 2, 64, 447
  • Qualifications in the social and human sciences 3, 85, 266

The public higher education institutions degrees give-

  • Master’s degrees: 9, 699
  • Doctorate Degrees: 1, 587

Source: Council on Higher Education, South Africa- 2011 Data
There were also 83 registered and 32 provisionally registered private higher education institutions in South Africa as of 20 June,2013 .

Education: Understanding the System

South Africa has Basic Education System and Higher Education System. The Department of Basic Education categorizes Basic Education System into ‘two’ bands- General Education and Training (GET) and Further Education and Training (FET).

The Basic Education System consists of Primary and Secondary schools. The Primary Schools run from Grade 1 to Grade 7, and Secondary Schools or High Schools run from Grade 8 to Grade 12. Once the Secondary schooling is over, students can attend the Higher Education and Training, or Tertiary Education.

Compulsory Education

According to the South African Schools Act 1996, Compulsory Education in South Africa starts at the age of 6 years and continues until 15 years of age.

Grades: 1 to 9
Kids can even go for the ‘reception year’ or otherwise known as Grade R or Grade 0, from the age of four years. The first grade begins at the age of 5-6 years. School education lasts for 13 years, from grade 0 to grade 12, or matric-the matriculation year. In South Africa, there are two types of schools- Private and Public Schools.

Basic Areas of Education: During compulsory education, the following subjects are taught-

  • Language, Literacy and Communication
  • Mathematical Literacy, Mathematics and Mathematical Sciences
  • Human and Social Sciences
  • Natural Sciences
  • Technology
  • Arts and Culture
  • Economic and Management Sciences
  • Life Orientation
Three Bands of Education

South Africa’s National Qualifications Framework (NQF) acknowledges three broad bands of education-

  • General Education and Training
  • Further Education and Training
  • Higher Education and Training
General Education and Training

The General Education and Training, or Primary Education includes mandatory education years, i.e. from grade 0 to grade 9.


Public preschools are offered by some of the provincial departments of education. Kids up to the age of 7 may attend preschools in South Africa. Preschool is divided into two grades-

  • Pre-Grade R: This grade is for kids up to the age of 4 years.
  • Grade R: This grade is for kids up to the age of 5-6 years.

In both grades kids learn a language and life skills, arts, mathematics, technology, and cultural classes.

The General Education and Training also comprises of the Adult Basic Education and Training.

  • Grades: 0 to 9

The General Education and Training is split up into 3 phases-

  • Foundation Phase: This phase runs from grade 0 to grade 3.
  • Junior Primary Phase/Intermediate Phase: This phase lasts for 3 years. It covers grades 4 to 6, and students learn to read, write and calculate, as well the basics of a second language.
  • Senior Phase: This phase lasts for 3 years. It covers grades 7 to 9, and students learn history, mathematics, science and geography. They also obtain oral and reading proficiency in both their first and second language.
Further Education and Training

The Further Education and Training runs from grade 10 to 12, levels 2 to 4 of the National Qualifications Framework, or the National Certificate levels 1 to 3 in technical colleges. This level of education focuses on career-oriented education and training at private colleges, technical colleges and community colleges. The qualifications recognised at this level are diplomas and certificates.

After completing the 12th grade or the Senior Secondary Education, pupils are required to sit for a written examination that includes at least 6 subjects. After passing the examination, a Senior Certificate is awarded to the pupils.

  • Grades: 10 to 12
Higher Education and Training, or Tertiary Education

Higher Education and Training, also called as Tertiary Education includes education for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, certificates, diplomas, and doctoral degrees.

Higher Education Institutions: Snapshot

In South Africa, there are 3 types of public higher education institutions-

  • Traditional Universities
  • Technikons and Universities of Technology
  • Comprehensive Universities

Technikons and Universities of Technology: These Universities provide programmes in applied fields- such as business, health sciences, design, performing arts, engineering, technology, and many more.

Comprehensive Universities: These Universities are formed from the amalgamation of technikons and Universities of Technology with traditional universities, and provide courses in the fields of traditional arts and science along with those provided by technikons or universities of technology.

Traditional Universities: Traditional higher education has been into existence in South Africa since 1829 when the South African College of Cape Town was established to train pupils for matriculation examinations. These Universities provide a broad range of degree programmes at both the Undergraduate and Postgraduate level.

Higher Education Qualification: A Quick Look

Following are the Higher Education Qualifications in South Africa-

Bachelor’s Degree: This degree generally lasts for 3 years, but for a few of the professional disciplines, such as engineering, law, architecture, medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, music and fine arts, it lasts for 4-6 years.

  • Credentials Awarded: Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Commerce (Bcom), and Bachelor of Science (BSc)

Bachelor’s Honors Degree: This degree takes one additional year of study beyond the general 3-year bachelor’s degree.

Master’s degree: This degree programme lasts for 1-2 years of full-time study.

Doctorate Degree: This degree requires at least 2 years of study beyond the master’s degree.

Private Higher Education

According to the Higher Education Act of 1997, the private higher education institutions can provide degree programmes, provided they are registered with the South African Council on Higher Education (CHE) and accredited by the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC). In South Africa, there are 4 types of private higher education institutions- foreign institutions, private technical and vocational institution, colleges offering tuition-based distance learning courses, lifelong learning centers established by private companies to train their workforce.

South African Higher Education Institutions

Public Universities in South Africa
Public universities in South Africa are split into 3 types-

  • Traditional Universities: These Universities provide theoretically-oriented university degree programmes.
  • Universities of Technology (“Technikons”): These Universities provide vocational oriented diploma and degree programmes.
  • Comprehensive Universities: These Universities provide a combination of both traditional Universities qualifications and Universities of Technology qualifications.
Traditional Universities in South Africa
  • University of Cape Town
  • University of Fort Hare
  • University of the Free State
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • University of Limpopo
  • North-West University
  • University of Pretoria
  • Rhodes University
  • University of Stellenbosch
  • University of the Western Cape
  • University of the Witwatersrand
Comprehensive Universities in South Africa
  • University of Johannesburg
  • Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
  • University of South Africa
  • University of Venda
  • Walter Sisulu University
  • University of Zululand
Universities of Technology in South Africa
  • Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  • Central University of Technology
  • Durban University of Technology
  • Mangosuthu University of Technology
  • Tshwane University of Technology
  • Vaal University of Technology
Private Universities and Colleges in South Africa

Following are the Private Universities and Colleges in South Africa-

  • AFDA, The South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance
  • Auckland Park Theological Seminary
  • Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa
  • Boston City Campus and Business College
  • Cornerstone Institute
  • CTI Education Group
  • Damelin
  • Doxa Deo School of Divinity
  • George Whitefield College
  • IMM Graduate School of Marketing
  • Inscape Design College
  • Management College of Southern Africa
  • Midrand Graduate Institute
  • Milpark Business School
  • Oval Education International
  • Qualitas Career Academy
  • Monash South Africa
  • Regenesys Business School
  • South African Theological Seminary
  • St Augustine College of South Africa
  • Stenden University South Africa
  • Varsity College

Private Colleges and Universities in Cyprus for International Students

Private universities are founded as private law organizations of speculative or non-speculative character, registered with the Ministry of Education. These private universities raise their funds from tuition fees. Here is the list of private colleges and universities in Cyprus for international students :

  • Alexander College
  • American College
  • ARTE Music Academy
  • City Unity College Nicosia
  • College of Tourism and Hotel Management
  • D.A. College
  • Cyprus International University
  • Frederick University
  • Mesoyios College
  • MKC City College
  • The Philips College
  • A. College
  • Neapolis University
  • Near East University

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:

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