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Study in South Africa: Education in South Africa

The South African education system has gone through major changes in recent years and especially after the Apartheid, with the goal to become more innovative, with better infrastructure and increase employability among students. South African universities attract more international students than any other African country. 

The South African government has established the National Development Plan 2030 which aims to tackle poverty and inequality in the country. The South African education system is a part of this long-term plan, as it will enable greater access to education to students from diverse backgrounds.

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In addition to the National Development Plan 2030, the South African Department of Higher Education and Training focuses on implementing policies for student financial aid, providing students and teaching staff with more opportunities for access to education and success and also strengthening the governance of the community education and training sector. 

The Department of Higher Education and Training deals with Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, adult basic education and training (ABET) centres and higher education (HE) institutions. The nine South African regions have their own education departments that are responsible for the educational policies taking place.

The oldest university in South Africa is the University of Cape Town, founded in 1829. Tertiary education is provided by private and public universities, all offering Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD degrees.

Bachelor Studies in South Africa

Bachelor’s in South Africa are completed within three years of full-time studies. Very popular majors on a Bachelor’s level include studies in social sciences, natural sciences, development or health-related studies. The language of instruction in South African universities is English. You will therefore need to prove your linguistic proficiency through a language test like TOEFL and provide your high school transcripts in order to gain admission. 

What about South African Master degrees?

Master’s in the South African education system last between one and two years, depending on your major. The academic year is divided into two semesters, from February to June and from mid-July to November. Likewise to Bachelor’s degrees, the language of instruction is English and your admission is based on your English language proficiency. Master’s degrees in South Africa combine theoretical and practical approaches and aim for academic excellence. 

An interesting fact is that after your third Bachelor’s year in South Africa, you can choose to either graduate with a bachelor’s degree or simply take an extra honours course, which will lead you to graduate with an honours certification. Imagine it as an additional postgraduate year of studies during which you will need to write and defend a research thesis in the same area of studies like your Bachelor’s. 

PhD degrees in South Africa

If you are looking for PhD degrees, why not study in South Africa? South African universities offer various PhD opportunities in parallel to experiencing life in a stunning natural environment. If you choose to study full-time, then you will be able to complete your PhD studies in around two to three years, with a minimum of a four-year duration for part-time studies. 

PhD degrees in South Africa offer top quality education and expertise along with a lot of collaborations with institutions and mission groups such as The National Research Foundation (NRF) or the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChl). Doctorate programs in South Africa follow the same pattern as European and American programs. By the end of the program, the PhD candidate has to complete a supervised thesis that contributes to their field of study.

Study in South Africa - Overview

Over 45,000 international students choose South Africa as their study abroad destination every year. Click here to learn why.

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Student Visas

If you are not a South African citizen, then you will need a visa for studies in South Africa. Learn more about the student visa process, and what you need to enter the country, depending on your citizen status.

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Housing & Living Costs

Housing and cost of living in South Africa are relatively cheap, especially when compared with other countries in Europe. You can choose to either live in a private or shared student accommodation.

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Tuition Fees & Scholarships

Tuition fees for degree programs in South Africa vary and is based on a credit system charge, but education for international students is still lower than in many other European countries.

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Language & Culture

South Africa has 11 official languages and is a country rich in history and culture. Find out more about what the country offers in terms of language, culture, and more!

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Application Process

Entry requirements in South Africa vary from university to university. Here you can find more information about the application process for people from around the world.

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Last update: 29 Jun 2021

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