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Cheap Universities in South Africa for International Students

Last Updated on May 4, 2022 by Unwana Akpan

Study Eagles presents a review of top and cheap universities in South Africa for international students; cost of living for international students, admission requirements and how to apply for admission to study in South Africa.

Recently, Africa has not been well recognized by foreign students as a good destination for studying abroad. But several African universities have been included in the just concluded list of world universities. Most of these African universities in the world list are located in South Africa.

You may be interested in learning that South Africa has made considerable strides in the creation of a more democratic country in which diversity has played an important role in its national identity. In South Africa, there are more than eleven official languages. The country is widely referred to as the “rainbow nation,” symbolizing its distinctive ethnic and racial characteristics.

Tuition Fees in South African Universities

As compared to those in most developed countries, tuition fees for foreign students in South Africa are very inexpensive and affordable. Despite the low fees, the level of learning is high quality. For undergraduate programs, it is roughly $2,500-$4,500 and $2,700-$3,000 for postgraduate studies per academic year.

Admission Requirements

If you choose to apply as a foreign student to any university in South Africa, you must have a valid study permit/permanent residency permit and have medical assistance covered before the application is considered.

In addition, if your course is in English and a foreign passport, you should also have transcripts of your secondary/high school grades, the product of English language proficiency.

It may interest you to know that South Africa’s academic year normally consists of two semesters. The first semester begins at the beginning of February and the second semester starts at the end of July.

Cost of living in South Africa for International Students

Similarly, relative to most European nations, the cost of living in South Africa is very poor. Depending on the individual spending patterns, the average cost of living is in the range of 400 to 500 USD per month.

That sum will take care of your lodging, food, books and travel as an international student. This comparatively low cost means that during their studies in South Africa, foreign students will invest much less than they would have in most developed countries.

How to Apply for Admission

There are two methods of applying: via the internet or via admission agencies. For those wishing to apply online, the steps below are a guide;

  • Go to your chosen university’s web page and submit an online application form
  • Complete the form correctly and upload any document required
  • Forward your application to the university’s admission department
  • You will be sent an offer letter via e-mail if your application is considered
  • Request your university visa kit and start processing your visa

List of Top Cheapest Universities in South Africa for international Students

  • Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
  • University of Cape Town
  • University of Fort Hare
  • North-West University
  • Rhodes University
  • Stellenbosch University

Top Cheap Universities in South Africa for International Students with Fees

1. Stellenbosch University (SU)

Tuition; from USD 3,500 to USD 6,500 yearly.

We are beginning our list of the cheapest universities in South Africa with Stellenbosch University for international students. Along with the University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University (SU) is the oldest university in South Africa. With over 30,000 students, this university ranks 427th in the QS World University Ranking as the third-best higher education institution in the country.

SU is a multilingual university which offers both English and Afrikaans degree programs. You can find classes that are entirely taught in English or Afrikaans, depending on the faculty, and programs that are bilingual, with some courses being taught either in English or in Afrikaans.

The university has ten faculties in the fields of arts and social sciences, law, education, agricultural sciences, economics and management, medicine and health sciences, military sciences, theology, science and engineering. It also has a school for business and a conservatory for music.

Other services include 34 dormitories for students, a botanical garden, and several sports centers.

These depend on your country of birth, as far as tuition fees are concerned. The SADC student tuition fees are ZAR 60,000 (South African Rands) per academic year. Tuition fees are ZAR 83,940 for those from other African countries, and tuition fees are ZAR 110,700 for anyone else per academic year.

2. University of Venda (Univen)

Tuition; From USD 1,500 to USD 3,000 yearly.

Univen, situated in the province of Limpopo, is a comprehensive university which was established in 1982. It was considered a “rural-based” university and was established in the area to provide higher education. At present, however the university hosts students from all over South Africa and the globe.

The school comprises of eight schools in the fields of law, agriculture, humanities and social sciences, mathematics and natural sciences, environmental sciences, health sciences, education, and management.

This inexpensive college in South Africa also has numerous sports facilities, an art gallery, and 11 residences for students.

They vary depending on the major and the academic year of the degree program with respect to tuition fees. Tuition costs for the first year of degree programs vary from ZAR 25,000 to ZAR 50,000. An extra registration fee has to be charged for foreign students.

3. Nelson Mandela University (NMU)

Tuition; Between USD 1,900 to USD 4,500 yearly.

After three higher education institutions were grouped together in 2005, Nelson Mandela University (NMU) came into being: Vista University and the University of Port Elizabeth, and PE Technikon, originally established as an Art School in 1882.

NMU is situated on six campuses in Port Elizabeth. Another campus is located in George.

NMU is divided into seven departments of business and economic sciences, health sciences, education, humanities, research, law and engineering, the built environment and technology, with more than 27,000 students. About 500 study programs are offered by these colleges.

For the first year of studies, tuition fees for foreign students range from USD 1,900 to USD 4,100, making this NMU in South Africa a very cheap university. A international administrative fee of USD 379 also has to be charged by non-SADC students.

4. Durban University of Technology (DUT)

Tuition; Between USD 2,500 and USD 6,000 yearly.

The Durban University of Technology (DUT) was founded less than 20 years ago, in 2002, after the merger of two engineers. It provides doctoral degree programs, something unusual for African technical institutes.

DUT comprises six Faculties of Arts and Design, Accounting and Computer Technology, Engineering and Construction, Management Sciences, Applied Sciences and Health Sciences. It also has over 10 centres of excellence and institutes of study.

Every year it hosts more than 30,000 students and has available student residences.

It will depend on your country of origin for the cost of your studies at DUT. Those that come from SADC countries would pay the same fees as local students for tuition. Double the local fees must be charged by foreign students from every other country. This requires tuition, housing, and operating costs, but DUT is still a very affordable university with these expenses.

The payments for tuition are measured according to the classes you take. There is a particular price for each issue, which could go from USD 70 to USD 750. Besides this, upon enrollment of USD 600 approx., you will have to make a down payment. We recommend that you budget between USD 2,500 and USD 6,000, but by reading the fee booklet, you can verify the exact cost of each course.

5. University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits)

Tuition; From USD 2,100 to USD 7,500 yearly.

One of South Africa’s oldest and best-ranked universities is the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits). It was established in 1896 and is ranked 400th in the QS World Ranking of Universities.

Wits is renowned for embracing foreign students warmly. Around 3,700 out of 40,000 students come from other nations. This reflects almost 10% of the student population!

This cheap university in South Africa, with five campuses in the city of Johannesburg, is divided into five departments of technology, engineering and the built environment, health sciences, humanities, and trade, law, and management. Wits has 17 residences for students as well.

Regarding tuition fees, SADC students pay local fees plus an approx. USD 400 registration fee. Two times the local fees are charged by foreign students from the rest of the world. Depending on your degree program and your nationality, this means you’ll pay between USD 2,100 and USD 7,500 every academic year.

6. University of the Western Cape (UWC)

Tuition; Between USD 1,750 and USD 5,400 yearly.

We conclude our review of cheap universities in South Africa with UWC. The University of the Western Cape (UWC) was established in 1959 and is currently ranked as one of the best institutions in South Africa, having a place in the QS World University Ranking among the top 1000 universities.

In the war against apartheid, UWC is renowned for its crucial position. The struggle for fair rights continues until now and their organization Children Right’s Project is an example of that.

It has seven community and health sciences, economic and management sciences, natural sciences, humanities, dentistry, law, and education divisions. Per year, UWC earns over 22,000.

Local fees are charged from African and SADC students, meaning they will pay between ZAR 30,140 (USD 1,750 approx.) and ZAR 58,180 (USD 3,400 approx.) per academic year. Every academic year, foreign students from other continents can pay between USD 3,800 and USD 5,400.

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