Study In South Africa - Requirements,Tuition Fees,Cost of Living & Universities

This is a comprehensive guide on studying in South Africa as an international student. This detailed post will give you all the necessary information you will need about studying in South Africa as an international student. It will answer most frequently asked questions such as


How to study in South Africa

Why study in South Africa

Cost of studying in South Africa

Universities in South Africa for international students

Cost of living in South Africa for international students

How to get a visa to study in South Africa

How to apply and study in South Africa

Tuition fees to study in South Africa

Applying to study in South Africa

As is usual, admission requirements will vary depending on the university and the course you’re applying for. For specific details of the admission requirements for a particular course, visit the university website; if still unsure, contact the university directly to check your eligibility.

For a general idea of whether your qualifications are accepted by universities in South Africa, you can use the online assessment provided by Higher Education South Africa (HESA). If this shows that you domeet the minimum legal requirements for study in South Africa, you will then need to submit hard copies of the qualification documents to the Matriculation Board, in order to receive an official endorsement certificate (known as an “exemption”).

You will need to prove your knowledge of English or Afrikaans, depending on which language you choose to study in.

Apply to universities in South Africa


Selecting Universities:

Selecting universities is a very time consuming and important process not only from the admission point of view but also because applying to universities is very expensive. Hence it has to be restricted to around 6 or 8 universities which are best matched for your requirements.

The best university for you may not be the famous ones, but those that offer you your field of study as well as meet the other criteria important to you.

Requesting Application Forms:

There are two ways to get application forms:

1. Requesting Application Forms via email : You can request application forms from the universities website. Most universities have a form on their website which can be completed online to request application material.

2. Downloading from the university website : Many universities have a downloadable and ready to print versions of their application forms on the net. These can be used for applying just as regular forms.

Application Requirements:

Once you start receiving application forms and material, go through the material in detail and check the application deadline, minimum scores required in the standardized tests, recommendation letters needed and other such information.

Tabulate all these requirements and compare them with your objectives and group the universities under three categories :

1. Schools that seem to match your requirements

2. Schools that are not suited to your needs

3. Schools that do not completely fit in any of the above two categories

Recommendation letters:

Many universities have their own format and questions that have to be answered by the person who is giving the letter of recommendation on your behalf. Letters, which do not give enough information, can jeopardize a candidate’s chances of selection.

School records/Academic transcript:

The transcripts of your academic record are absolutely essential to the evaluation of your academic abilities. Your official transcript or academic record is the objective part of your application. Academic records greatly vary from one education system to the other. Systems of evaluation or grading and the formats used to present this information also differ widely.

Undergraduate : Students who are applying for a Bachelor program or any other undergraduate course would be required to submit a secondary school report and transcripts (report cards) of the final exams. The report form should be filled out by a school official like the principal, counselor or headmaster. This form should introduce you in the context of your whole school experience in relationship to the other students in your class. Admission committees will be interested in learning how you have performed in your own educational system. The school report should talk about your accomplishments and provide a statement of your chances for success in university-level studies.

Graduate : Students applying for Graduate courses (MBA, MS etc) are required to submit an official transcript from each college or university that they have attended after secondary school with complete details of the subjects, credits involved and other details like correspondence courses, diplomas etc. Most universities ask for the transcript to be sealed in an envelope and signed and attested across the seal by the registrar. This procedure is to be done for each and every college that you have attended. Some universities may ask for more than one transcripts but most require only one.


Tuition fees and living costs South Africa for international students


The cost of studying in South Africa actually depends on the specific school you attend. All the universities and colleges in South Africa have different tuition fees.


Tuition fees at universities in South Africa vary depending on the university, study level and subject of study. Some universities also charge per course hour. The international students tuition fees to study in South Africa is about US$5,200 for undergraduate degrees, and US$3,300 for post graduate degrees.

International students can get scholarships directly from the universities or from private bodies. Scholarships and other forms of financial aids are usually given based on merit so you have to work hard if you want to get a scholarship.

Living costs in South Africa compared to countries such as the US, UK or most European countries. International students will need about US$7,250 for expenses which include accommodation,transport,food etc


Cost of living in South Africa according to expatistan


South Africa


            Monthly rent for 85 m2 (900 Sqft) furnished accommodation in EXPENSIVE area        R 14,895

            Monthly rent for 85 m2 (900 Sqft) furnished accommodation in NORMAL area            R 10,009

            Utilities 1 month (heating, electricity, gas ...) for 2 people in 85m2 flat     R 1,234

            Monthly rent for a 45 m2 (480 Sqft) furnished studio in EXPENSIVE area        R 10,575

            Monthly rent for a 45 m2 (480 Sqft) furnished studio in NORMAL area            R 6,819

            Utilities 1 month (heating, electricity, gas ...) for 1 person in 45 m2 (480 Sqft) studio      R 815

            Internet 8 Mbps (1 month)        R 690

            40” flat screen TV        R 6,456

            Microwave 800/900 Watt (Bosch, Panasonic, LG, Sharp, or equivalent brands)            R 1,748

            Laundry detergent (3 l. ~ 100 oz.)         R 80

            Hourly rate for cleaning help      R 26


            1 pair of jeans (Levis 501 or similar)     R 764

            1 summer dress in a High Street Store (Zara, H&M or similar retailers) R 636

            1 pair of sport shoes (Nike, Adidas, or equivalent brands)         R 1,254

            1 pair of men’s leather business shoes   R 1,192


            Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 150 CV (or equivalent), with no extras, new R 296,891

            1 liter (1/4 gallon) of gas           R 13

            Monthly ticket public transport R 560

Personal Care  

            Cold medicine for 6 days (Tylenol, Frenadol, Coldrex, or equivalent brands)      R 58

            1 box of antibiotics (12 doses) R 223

            Short visit to private Doctor (15 minutes)          R 383

            1 box of 32 tampons (Tampax, OB, ...)             R 51

            Deodorant, roll-on (50ml ~ 1.5 oz.)      R 28

            Hair shampoo 2-in-1 (400 ml ~ 12 oz.)             R 49

            4 rolls of toilet paper     R 25

            Tube of toothpaste        R 15

            Standard men's haircut in expat area of the city R 123


            Basic dinner out for two in neighborhood pub    R 304

            2 tickets to the movies R 141

            2 tickets to the theater (best available seats)      R 668

            Dinner for two at an Italian restaurant in the expat area including appetisers, main course, wine and dessert             R 529

            1 cocktail drink in downtown club         R 59

            Cappuccino in expat area of the city      R 26

            1 beer in neighbourhood pub (500ml or 1pt.)    R 27

            iPad Air 2, 64GB          R 8,790

            1 min. of prepaid mobile tariff (no discounts or plans)    R 1.84

            1 month of gym membership in business district R 504


Visa to study in South Africa

To study in South Africa as an international student, you will require a visa. Below are the requirements and process on how to get a South Africa visa.


What documents will be required?

Study Permit Documentation

           A passport valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of intended visit

           BI-1738 application form.

           Payment of the prescribed fee

           A vaccination certificate, if required by the Act

           Proof of financial means to cover envisaged living expenses during the sojourn in the Republic and to also pay for the tuition fees. This should be in the form of:

- bank statements

- cash available,

- or travellers cheques

           Proof of medical cover

           A cash deposit equivalent to the value of a return ticket.

           In the case of African students, an undertaking from the relevant government to take full responsibility of the student and to pay all costs, should it become necessary to deport the student

           Medical and radiology reports

           An unabridged birth certificate in the case of minors.

           In the case of a minor, the particulars of the person in the Republic of South Africa who will act as the learner’s guardian and a letter from such person confirming guardianship

           Consent from both parents for your stay in South Africa, or from the parent who has sole custody, along with proof of sole custody

           An official letter from the educational institution, where you intend to study, confirming provisional acceptance and the duration of the course.

           Proof of medical cover renewed annually for the period of study with a medical scheme registered in terms of the Medical Schemes Act.

           If you are 18 years and older, a police clearance certificate from each country in which you resided for 12 months or longer since the age of 18 years is required. This should be submitted with the application or within three months of submission


Visitor's Permit Documentation

           A passport or travel document valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of your intended visit

           Your passport must have at least one unused page for entry / departure endorsements

           A completed Form BI-84 (application for a visa)

           Payment of the prescribed fee

           A yellow-fever vaccination certificate (if required)

           Statement and/or documentation confirming the purpose and duration of your visit

           Two colour passport photographsA return or onward ticket if you are travelling by air

           If you have children (minors) travelling with you or joining in South Africa, you will need to provide the following additional documents

           Unabridged birth certificateProof of guardianship or custody or

           Consent from the guardian in the case of an unaccompanied minor

           Proof of financial means to pay for your living expenses while in South Africa in the form of:

           Bank statementsSalary advancesUndertakings by the host(s) in South Africa BursaryMedical cover or

           Cash available (including credit cards and travellers’ cheques)

Time required to issue a visa:

The normal processing period is 10 days.

What is the cost of a visa?

Nationals of certain countries are subject to visa fees. Fees are charged per application and are not refundable if the application be refused. Fees must be paid in postal money order or certified bank check payable to SACG (if application was submitted to any of the three Consulates General in the USA) or South African Embassy (if application was submitted to the South African Embassy in Washington, DC). The postal money order or certified bank check must be made out with the exact amount as no refunds will be made. Cash and personal check payments are not accepted.


Fees applicable only in the United States

           Visitor's, Business, Medical Visa $36.00

           Business Permit $127.00

           Corporate Permit $0.00

           Retired Person's Permit $36.00

           Study Permit $36.00

           Transit Visa $36.00

           Treaty Permit $36.00

           Work Permit $127.00

           Exchange Visa $36.00

           Permanent Residence $127.00


How long is the visa valid for?

Study permits are valid for the duration of the program of study. Visitor’s permits are issued on entry in South Africa and are for visits of three (3) months. If your visit would exceed 90 days and you want to travel to South Africa to work, you will need to apply for a work permit instead of a visitor's visa. Requirements for a work permit are not the same as a visitor (tourist) visa.

Other information:

Study Permit

This is a kind of a temporary residency visa issued to foreigners intending to take up studies in South Africa.

How to Apply for a South African Study Permit

If you are a foreign student and wish to study in South Africa you can apply for a study visa by completing Form BI-1738. Study visas must be applied for at VFS Centre across the country near the educational institution you will be studying at or at the nearest South African embassy, mission or consulate abroad. Study visas for studies at a learning institution shall be issued other than a school shall be issued for the duration of course registered for. Study visas for learning institutions defined as a school shall be valid for the duration of the study: provided the duration shall not exceed eight years at a primary school and 6 years at a secondary school.

Students are required to provide proof of medical cover renewed annually for the period of study with a medical scheme registered in terms of the Medical Schemes Act. However, where a student is attending a school contemplated in section 1 of the South African Schools Act as the dependent child of a parent holding a visa issued in terms of section 11, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20 or 22 of the Immigration Act and is registered on the medical aid or international health insurance of such parent, proof of South African medical cover is not required.

Who requires a visa?

Holders of a national passport (diplomatic, official or ordinary) of the following countries / territories / international organisations are not required to hold a visa in respect of purposes for which a visitor’s permit may be issued for an intended stay of 90 days or less and when in transit:

- African Union Laissez Passer, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile (only ordinary passport holders), Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany (except in diplomatic staff due to assume duty at the Embassy and Consulates of Germany in SA), Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Malta, Monaco, Namibia (90 days per year), Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama (only ordinary passport holders), Paraguay, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Spain, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania (90 days per year), Trinidad & Tobago (only ordinary passport holders), United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (only ordinary passport holders), British Islands Bailiwick of Guernsey and Jersey, Isle of Man, British Oversees Territories (namely: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, St Helena and Dependencies (Ascension Island, Gough Island and Tristan da Cunha), Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, the Sovereign Base Areas of Cyprus South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the Turks and Caicos Island), United States of America (except in diplomatic staff due to assume duty at the Embassy and Consulates of the USA in SA), Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia (90 days per year), Zimbabwe.


List and ranking of all universities in South Africa


This is the list and ranking of all the universities in South Africa. The ranking is based on the quality of education each of the university provides and also the available academic and social facilities in the university. So below is the list of the of all the universities in South Africa and their ranking




Rank    University         Location

1          University of Cape Town

Cape Town

2          University of South Africa

Pretoria ...

3          University of Pretoria


4          University of the Witwatersrand


5          Universiteit Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch ...

6          University of KwaZulu-Natal

Durban ...

7          University of Johannesburg


8          University of the Western Cape


9          Rhodes University


10        North-West University

Potchefstroom ...

11        Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

Port Elizabeth ...

12        Universiteit van die Vrystaat

Bloemfontein ...

13        Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Cape Town ...

14        Durban University of Technology

Durban ...

15        Tshwane University of Technology

Pretoria ...

16        University of Fort Hare


17        Central University of Technology

Bloemfontein ...

18        Vaal University of Technology

Vanderbijlpark ...

19        University of Zululand

Kwadlangezwa ...

20        University of Venda


21        University of Limpopo

Sovenga ...

22        Mangosuthu University of Technology

Durban ...

23        Walter Sisulu University

Mthatha .


Courses to study at universities in South Africa


Accounting and Finance

Aeronautical engineering

Manufacturing engineering






Art and Design

Oral science


Biological sciences


Business management

Chemical engineering


Civil engineering

Ancient history

Mass communication

Computer science


Creative writing






Electrical engineering


Film making

Food science


General engineering






Material technology


Mechanical engineering

Medical technology












Veterinary medicine


Items to pack while going to study in South Africa


In your carry-on bag

           Cell phone and charger

           Boarding pass(es)

           Cash (bring American dollars and the currency of your host location or money you can exchange for it—enough to use in case of an emergency, but not more money than you can afford to lose)

           Copy of birth certificate

           Copy of Social Security card

           Credit card (notify your bank that you’ll be abroad before you leave to avoid your account being frozen)

           Debit card


           E-reader or book

           Emergency contact list

           Face wipes


           Hand sanitizer


           Health insurance card


           Prescription medication(s) you usually take (make sure you bring enough refills to last your entire trip—but future prescriptions can go in your checked luggage)

           School ID

           Spare outfit (in case your luggage gets lost or delayed)

           State ID

           Student visa

           Travel itinerary

           Travel pillow

           Travel tickets (if you’re taking a train or other transport after your plane lands)



           Acne medication/cream

           Face lotion/moisturizer


           Mini shampoo & conditioner (until you get the chance to get full-sized bottles in your new country)

           Mouthwash (small)

           Soap (mini bottle if you're using body wash)





           Bobby pins


           Contacts, solution and case (again, make sure you have all the contacts you'll need for your time abroad)

           Glasses and glasses case

           Hair ties



           Nail clipper




           Tampons and pads



You will likely have the opportunity to do laundry on your trip, and you'll be able to purchase detergent in your host country.

           Downy Wrinkle Release spray

           Linens/towels (if your housing doesn’t have them)

           Portable stain remover pen

           Travel sheet (for hostels)


           Athletic sneakers (1)

           Bathing suits (1-2)

           Boots (1-2)

           Bras (2 sports bras, 2 regular bras, 1 strapless/convertible bras)

           Casual dresses (2)

           Everyday comfortable shoes (1-2)

           Flats (1)

           Flip-flops (1)

           Formal outfit (1-2)

           Gloves (1, if weather appropriate)

           Going-out outfit (3-5)

           Hat (1)

           Heavier coat for colder climates (1)

           Heels (1-2)

           Jacket (2; a light one and one for colder weather, if applicable)

           Jeans (2, one black & one blue)

           Jewelry (remember that bringing jewelry to another country is always a risk; don’t bring anything too valuable!)

           Leggings (1-3)

           Long-sleeve shirts (3-5)

           Pajamas (2-3)

           Pants (1-2 nice pairs)

           Purse (1-2)

           Raincoat (1)

           Scarf (1)

           Short-sleeve shirts (5-7)

           Shorts (2-4, if weather appropriate)

           Skirts (1-2)

           Socks (14)

           Sweaters (3-5)

           Sweatshirt (2)

           T-shirts (3-5)

           Tank tops (3-5)

           Underwear (14)

           Watch (1)

           Workout clothes (2-5)


Remember that most of your electronic items will need an outlet converter in order to work!

           Camera (remember your case and USB cords)

           Cell phone (keep in mind that you’ll be able to buy an international phone when you arrive at your destination)

           Chargers (laptop, phone, camera, e-reader, etc.)

           Flash drive



           Laptop case

           Outlet adapters (2-3)

           USB cable


           Adhesive bandages

           Allergy medicine

           Birth control

           Cold and flu medicine

           Eye drops

           Motion sickness medicine

           Over-the-counter pain medicine



           Backpack (small)

           Gift for your host family (bring something that they couldn’t get in their own country, like memorabilia from your hometown)


           Language dictionary


           Playing cards

           Travel guide

           Umbrella (small)


Benefits of studying abroad in South Africa or any other study abroad destination


1. See the World

The biggest reason you should consider a study abroad program is the opportunity to see the world . By studying abroad, you will experience a brand-new country with incredible new outlooks, customs and activities. The benefits of studying abroad include the opportunity to see new terrains, natural wonders, museums and landmarks of your host nation.

2. Education

Another reason you might consider studying abroad is for the chance to experience different styles of education. By enrolling in a study abroad program, you’ll have the chance to see a side of your major that you may not have been exposed to at home.

You’ll find that completely immersing yourself in the education system of your host country is a great way to really experience and understand the people, its traditions, and its culture. Education is the centerpiece of any study abroad trip—it is, after all, a study abroad program—and choosing the right school is a very important factor.

3. Take in a New Culture

Many students who choose to study abroad are leaving their home for the first time. When they arrive in their new host country, they are fascinated by the distinct cultural perspectives. When you study abroad you will find incredible new foods, customs, traditions, and social atmospheres.

You will find that you have a better understanding and appreciation for the nation’s people and history. You will have the opportunity to witness a completely new way of life.

4. Hone Your Language Skills

Chances are if you’re planning on studying abroad, one of the major draws is the opportunity to study a foreign language. Studying abroad grants you the opportunity to completely immerse yourself in a new language, and there is no better way to learn than to dive right in.

In addition to the considerable language practice you will get just in day to day life, your host university will likely offer language courses to provide you with a more formal education. Immerse yourself in a new culture and go beyond a purely academic experience

5. Career Opportunities

When you finish your study abroad program and return home, you will return with a new perspective on culture, language skills, a great education, and a willingness to learn. Needless to say, all of these are very attractive to future employers.

Many students find that they love their host country so much that they decide to seek work there. If you can relate, you will find that a local education will be very valuable when searching for a potential job in that country

6. Find New Interests

If you are still questioning why to study abroad, you should know that studying in a different country offers many new activities and interests that you may never have discovered if you’d stayed at home. You might find that you have an as-yet undiscovered talent for hiking, water sports, snow skiing, golf, or various other new sports you may never have tried back home.

You’ll also have the chance to discover other new and exciting forms of entertainment. Plays, movies, dancing, nightclubs, and concerts are just a few activities that you can enjoy.

7. Make Lifelong Friends

One of the biggest benefits of studying abroad is the opportunity to meet new lifelong friends from different backgrounds. While studying abroad, you will attend school and live with students from your host country. This gives you the opportunity to really get to know and create lasting relationships with your fellow students.

After the study abroad program ends, make an effort stay in contact with your international friends. In addition to rewarding personal relationships, these friends can also be important networking tools later down the road.

8. Personal Development

There is nothing quite like being on your own in a foreign country. You might find that studying abroad really brings out your independent nature. Students who study abroad become explorers of their new nation and really discover the curiosity and excitement that they harbor.

A benefit to studying abroad is the opportunity to discover yourself while gaining an understanding of a different culture. Being in a new place by yourself can be overwhelming at times, and it tests your ability to adapt to diverse situations while being able to problem solve.

9. Graduate School Admissions

Like future employers, graduate school admissions boards look very highly on study abroad experiences. Students that study abroad display diversity and show that they aren’t afraid to seek out new challenges or put themselves in difficult situations.

Most importantly, students who have studied abroad show just how committed they are to their education. Graduate schools regularly look for candidates who will bring a unique aspect to their university. Students who have studied abroad have shown that they have the curiosity and educational acumen to be a leader in graduate school.

10. Life Experience

Why study abroad? For most students, this time may be the only opportunity they ever get to travel abroad for a long period of time. Eventually you will find a job and career, and the opportunity to study abroad may turn out to be a once in a life time opportunity.


Hope this post was helpful


Question tags

How to study in South Africa

Why study in South Africa

Cost of studying in South Africa

Universities in South Africa for international students

Cost of living in South Africa for international students

How to get a visa to study in South Africa

How to apply and study in South Africa

Tuition fees to study in South Africa

Applying to study in South Africa

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