South Africa is a diverse country. It sits along the southern most coastline of the African continent near Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. It is a multi-ethnic country with an incredibly diverse background and culture. There are 11 official languages here, including English, which is commonly used for public and commercial needs. It has close to 53 million people calling it home, and has become the second largest economy in Africa. There are many reasons to study in the country even as an international student.
Study Bachelor in South Africa 2023
Study in South Africa
Basic monthly living cost
Rent in a shared flat243
Share of utilities29
Sample lifestyle cost
Fast food combo4
Pint of local beer2
About South Africa
Higher Education in South Africa
Higher education and training encompasses both undergraduate and graduate degrees, including bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Both public and private higher education institutes exist, including universities, universities of technology, and comprehensive institutions. The universities offer traditional theoretically and research-oriented degrees;
the other institutions focus on professional and vocational education and training.
Why Study in South Africa?
In addition to the opportunity to study in English within a multicultural environment, South Africa has many world-class schools of higher education that include state-of-the-art research along with high-quality master’s degree programs. South Africa has three universities in the top 400 universities world-wide, as ranked by the 2012-2013 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
Universities in South Africa
South Africa has 23 state funded higher education institutes that offer master’s degrees, including 11 universities, 6 universities of technology, and 6 comprehensive institutions. Private institutions exist as well, totaling 115. Programs are offered in most academic disciplines, and master’s degrees in business administration, economics and finance are especially popular. International students are welcome and
use the same application procedures as South African nationals.
Tuition and Program Duration
Annual tuition for master’s studies varies widely by program and school, but is generally low in state schools, from about $1,500 to $5,000 (US);
private schools are somewhat higher. Master’s programs also range in duration, but are typically 1-2 years.
The academic year runs from February through December and includes two semesters. Each semester typically consists of six weeks of classes, a one-week break, then seven weeks of classes, and finally one week for studying (called swot week) and then exams.
Many multinational corporations operate in South Africa, and graduates with master’s degrees will find numerous opportunities for employment, whether they are South African nationals or expats. Industry sectors that are currently growing include automotive, information technology, communications, mining, banking and services. The vast majority of jobs are concentrated in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Pretoria, and Johannesburg. To obtain a work permit, an international student must usually first have a job offer for a position that cannot be filled locally. However, students with skills in specialized areas or highly qualified experts in certain fields may be able to obtain work permits even without a specific job offer.
International students studying in South Africa are required to have a study permit before they enter the country to attend school. A visitor’s permit cannot be exchanged for a study permit after arrival. Once a student has been accepted at a university, they can apply for a study permit at the South Africa office in their home country.
International students are required to obtain South African health insurance, even if they are covered by health insurance in their home country. Proof of this coverage is required when applying for the study visa. Students must pay for the entire academic year in advance;
monthly or other payments are not allowed.
Although English in the predominant language for public exchanges and business in South Africa, the country has 11 official languages, including Afrikaans (a derivative of Dutch), Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu. Students may encounter indigenous languages throughout the country;
however, most South Africans can speak more than one language and English is widely understood.
Sports are very popular in South Africa, with the major sports being soccer, rugby and cricket. Other sports with significant followings and international presence include swimming, golf, boxing and tennis.
- South African student visa (formerly called a South African study permit)
- South African exchange visa - If you are older than 25 years and want to come to South Africa on a cultural, economic, or social exchange program, organized between an educational institution or government body in South Africa and one in a foreign country.
What type of Visa do you need?
South African student visa; South African exchange visa
Price and currency
The South African student visa application fees depend on your country of origin but are around US$47.
Who can apply for the visa?
An international student who wants to stay and study in South Africa for a course extending 3 months (90 days) duration will have to apply for a student visa. This visa is granted to those students who have already been accepted for admission by a recognized educational institute in South Africa.
In order to qualify for a study visa for South Africa, the school or college itself must first qualify as a ‘learning institution’. This means it must be registered with either the Department of Basic Education or the Department of Higher Education. So if you want to attend a private language school or a school only offering short-term technical courses, you may not qualify for a South African study visa.
Please note: You cannot come to South Africa on a visitor’s visa and then proceed to apply for a South African student visa. You cannot come to South Africa on a visitor’s visa and then proceed to apply for a South African student visa.
Where can you make the application?
South African High Commission, Consulate, or Embassy
To get a visa for South Africa, students must contact the South African High Commission, Consulate, or Embassy in their country of residence.
How to make the application?
First, you need to get accepted as a student by a registered South African school, college, or university and receive a letter of acceptance on the institution’s letterhead and signed by or on behalf of the principal or registrar.
You then need to complete the temporary residence permit application form B1-1738 and take it in person to the South African embassy, consulate, or high commission in your home country.
The following documents must be submitted with the BI-1738 application form:
- A passport valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of the intended visit
- 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 / travelers’ 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.
You apply for an exchange permit (South African exchange visa) using the same application form B1-1738.
When should you apply?
Application process times vary from country to country but allow about six weeks.
The student visa is valid for the entire duration of the student’s course, alternatively 36 months for schools and 24 months for other institutions.
South African exchange visa - this visa is granted for the duration of the exchange, usually not more than 12 months. The South African exchange visa cannot be renewed or extended. Once you have had this type of permit, you may only apply for a temporary or permanent residence permit after you have lived for at least a year outside of South Africa.
If you hold a South African student visa and are studying at tertiary level, you are allowed to work part-time for no more than 20 hours a week during term-time, and full-time during vacations.
Hours per week
Why do you need this type of visa?
There are numerous reasons why your student visa application to South Africa may be denied, such as:
- Leaving blanks on your forms
- Lying about anything in your application
- Having an out-of-date passport with no blank pages
- Misspelling your name on documents
- Not providing evidence of enough funds
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