South Africa is the southernmost country on the African continent. It covers 1.2 million square kilometers, making it the 25th largest country in the world. Students from all over the world prefer to study in South Africa because of its beautiful landscapes, low tuition fees, reputable universities, and low cost of living. South Africa has six public universities, which are divided into three major categories: theoretical universities, which offer theoretically-oriented degrees; universities of technology, which offer vocational-oriented degrees; and comprehensive universities, which are a combination of both, offering both types of degrees.
Below are the things you need to know to study in South Africa as an international student:
1. Tuition fees: Universities in South Africa charge modest fees compared to some other countries, and tuition fees vary depending on their policy, the type and length of studies, the students’ nationality, and some other factors. The average tuition fee for undergraduate programs is $2500-$4500, while for postgraduate programs it is within the range of $2700-$3000. However, students from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) member countries (Angola, Botswana, the Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and some others) pay the same tuition fees as local South African students.
2. Cost of living: The overall cost of living varies based on an individual’s lifestyle and spending habits. On average, living costs for international students in South Africa can be in the range of $6000-$7500 per year, which include the cost of accommodation, feeding, and other utilities.
3. Visa: Students who intend to complete a university degree or a course lasting more than 1-3 months and are not participating in an exchange program at a South African educational institution such as a university or school must apply for a student visa, whereas those who intend to attend a short course can apply for a tourist visa. However, before applying for a visa or making travel arrangements, international students are strongly recommended to contact the nearest South African embassy to know what type of visa they should apply for.
4. Language requirements: South Africa is home to 11 national languages, but the majority of courses are taught in English. Some more traditional universities may still offer courses in Afrikaans. For students for whom English is not their first language, you would be required to take an English proficiency test such as IELTS.
5. Top-ranked universities: South Africa is home to some of the best universities on the African continent, and here you can find the University of Cape Town, the University of Witwatersrand, and Stellenbosch University.
6. Health insurance: for all students in South Africa, one of the requirements for a study permit is proof of medical cover with a medical scheme registered in South Africa, which must be renewed annually during the specified period of study.
7. Work-Study Option: Student visas in South Africa allow students to work while pursuing their studies. However, international students may only work up to a maximum of 20 hours per week pending the expiry of the visa, but if your course requires you to take part in work experience that amounts to more than 20 hours per week, you will need to apply to the Department of Home Affairs to obtain permission.
In South Africa, modes of transportation could be by train, bus, or taxi. However, many students choose taxi rides on a regular basis because they are much more affordable than other transportation options.