South Africa offers the best universities and education in the African continent. Several South African universities rank in the world's top 200, with study in Zoology and the environment particularly well ranked.
So, if you’re up for adventure and want to study in a developing country, come study a degree in South Africa.
How can you study a degree in South Africa?
South Africa universities are free to set their own curriculum and courses, reporting to a central body rather than government.
The country is home to 23 public universities offering undergraduate degrees, with a growing student community of more than one million students enrolled in its system. Many come as international students from other continental African countries.
There are three types of institution where you can study a degree in South Africa:
- Traditional universities – these offer theoretical degrees
- Universities of technology – vocational diplomas and degrees
Comprehensive universities – offer a mixture of both types of qualification
There are currently 11 traditional universities, six universities of technology and six comprehensive universities in South Africa.
International students in South Africa will pay a tuition fee premium. Course fees can range from R30,000 – R35,000, depending on the course and institution.
Immigration and visas
Visa entry requirements for South Africa vary from country to country, with most countries requiring you to get a study permit if your course lasts longer than three month. You will not be able to register with a South African university without a study permit.
In order to apply for a study permit, you will need:
- Confirmed letter from an approved university
- Details of a person who will act as your guardian
- Proof of finances to cover the duration of your studies
Accommodation and living costs
The most common way for international students to live in South Africa is in accommodation provided by universities, as finding acceptable private accommodation while living outside of South Africa is extremely difficult.
Most universities will group international students together, so you will probably find yourself living in an apartment block with several other students. This is a great way to get to know other students and make some friends – you’ll also normally be situated near the university.
Living costs and rent: Living costs in South Africa are generally cheaper than countries like the UK and the United States, but it depends on the standard of living you are used to. Rural areas tend to offer cheaper living and a quieter pace of life.
As a guide, here is what you can expect to pay per month to rent in South Africa:
- 1 bed city centre apartment -R4,500
- 1 bed outside city centre apartment –R3,500
- 3 bed city centre apartment -R8,500
3 bed outside city centre apartment – R7,000
How safe is South Africa?
South Africa attracts a lot of criticism for its safety record, much of which is justified. South Africa has a very high rate of violent crime, but a lot is being done to reduce it. Indeed, the violent crime and murder rates in South Africa have been falling for the last few years.
International students will have to get used to living in gated communities and coping with security, but being safe in South Africa is more about following universal rules such as taking taxis rather than walking and avoiding certain areas.
Students should always take precautions to make sure they stay safe. They should take care to:
- Avoid walking alone at night
- Always carry a charged phone
- Avoid potentially quiet/ dark shortcuts
- Avoid carrying a lot of cash
- Let friends know where they are going
- Always keep a close eye on personal belongings whilst out
Never accept things from strangers – whether this is a lift home or a drink
Staying in touch
Staying in touch when your child is studying on the other side of the world might seem daunting – but there are ways you can talk regularly that don’t have to involve long distance phone calls and a nasty bill at the end of the month. Here are a few tips:
- Skype – the free video calling service can be downloaded within seconds, and will allow you to talk face to face anywhere you have an internet connection
- Blogging – maybe encourage your child to keep a blog of their adventures overseas, so that other families members (such as grandparents) can keep up to date
Local sim cards – it is also a good idea for your child to buy a phone with a local pay as you go sim card when they arrive so that they can text and call home without running up a bill
What to do next
If you want to study abroad but are not sure where, check our country guides.If you would like more information on studying in South Africa, fill out our Free Application Service and we'll get back to you with tailored information promptly.