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!

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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 is an exciting place to study, in part because of the physical diversity of the place. A beautiful coastline with cliffs and beaches stretches 2,500 kilometers along the southern border, the desert of Kalahari lies to the north, and a mountainous escarpment lies in the middle of the country.

South Africa’s National Policy for Higher Education made a goal in 2001 to transform the country’s higher education system. In doing so, a 20% participation rate in higher education was set for 10-15 years. To promote the growth of students in higher education, the South African government is investing resources into schools, creating an ideal situation for international students who are interested in studying there.

Although the South African central government is investing significant efforts into education, schools are in large part controlled by one of nine provinces, each of which have their own education department. Schools also have their own education administration, controlled by a civically- or politically-affiliated chancellor who is appointed by the government.

Higher education in South Africa – that is, education which is

aimed at achieving undergraduate or postgraduate degrees, certificates, diplomas or doctoral degrees – is referred to as Tertiary Education. South Africa currently has 24 world-class public (state-funded) tertiary education institutions, including universities, universities of technology, and comprehensive institutions. In addition, there are a growing number of private universities in South Africa as well as foreign higher education institutions, such as those from the UK and Australia.

Universities usually offer basic qualification after 3 years and career-oriented education degrees after 4 years. Students may then go on to pursue their masters and doctoral degrees. A masters degree in South Africa requires one year of study through research or course work after an undergraduate qualification, and a doctorate is at least 2 extra years in addition to writing a research thesis. Another education option is an honors degree, which requires study for one additional year after a bachelor’s degree.

Technikons are vocation-oriented schools, and have less stringent entry requirements for applicants than universities. 4-year diploma programs are available at Technikon schools, but students can also exit earlier and continue their education while working. Many technikons are now being integrated with universities to become larger tertiary education institutions.

Language in South Africa

South Africa has 11 official languages, including Afrikaans, Zulu, Ndebele and English. It is a benefit to have some knowledge of one of the languages besides English in order to study in South Africa. However, the best language to learn and degree to which you’ll actually use it depend on the city where you study.

Cost of Education

Tuition at higher education institutions in South Africa vary between schools. In addition to receiving money through tuition, schools also get government funding, which is based on the ratio of students to teachers and tuition receipts.

Higher education in South Africa is a unique learning experience with so many benefits for students to take advantage of in this exciting, diverse country.