5 Top Reasons Why You Should Study in South Africa
September 12, 2014

Nearly 80 percent of South African students believe that their qualifications have prepared them to enter the workforce, according to the recent PPS Student Confidence Index conducted by Quest Staffing Solutions. Students expressed almost equally high confidence levels about job opportunities following graduation. These high figures indicate a positive trend within the country’s post-apartheid emerging university system. Why do these students feel so optimistic? And how do international students fit into the equation? Read on to learn more about South Africa’s higher education offerings.

South Africa: Past, Present and Future

The current state of South Africa’s higher education system is richly informed by its turbulent past, dynamic present and promising future. The past decade has seen remarkable transition in the wake of 2004 legislation overturning years of racial segregation, and universities have also undergone sweeping change to replace the racially-based system of years past.

Today, South Africa is home to 23 public universities comprising a mix of the traditional, vocational and hybrid models. Each now accepts students from all segments of the population. In 2013, the South African government spent 21 percent of its national budget on education with 10 percent earmarked for higher education, besting countries like the U.S, Germany, India, Japan, and Canada.

With higher education staking its claim as one of the key factors in the country’s emerging economy, students who choose to study abroad in South Africa -- and their numbers are increasing -- are uniquely positioned to gain a high-quality education while participating in history in the making. You can read more about the opportunities in South Africa here.

Scholarships in South Africa

Unfortunately, there are limited scholarship opportunities for international students from outside Africa, and international students are ineligible for the government’s student loan program. The country’s major banks do offer student loans to international students with valid study permits. Other international students find scholarship funding through their sending institutions or other organizations in their home countries.

One exception to the rule? The Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund (MMMF). This program grants funding in designated regions, including South Africa, to women from developing countries seeking to further their education toward the betterment of women’s and children’s programs in their respective regions. Applicants must have a record of service as well as a demonstrated commitment to working with women and children in order to be eligible for support.

Top 5 Reasons to Study in South Africa

South African higher educational institutions hold a prominent place on the world stage, with four of its universities claiming spots in the 2013/2014 QS World University Rankings. The University of Cape Town is South Africa's highest finisher coming in at an impressive 145. The University of Witwatersrand (AKA “Wits”) and Stellenbosch University both coasted into the top 400. While unrest and upheaval may first come to mind when you think of South Africa, its university campuses have become multicultural hubs of academic, social and civic activities. In fact, diversity is now an integral part of the national ethos of this modern-day "Rainbow Nation." Who doesn’t like to get the biggest bang for their buck? Studying in South Africa offers some serious financial incentives thanks to favorable international exchange rates. The result? Both tuition and cost of living expenses are a significant value for international students. South Africa is a nation in the midst of change. While others read about history in textbooks, international students who choose to study here are immersed in history-making moments. And as the newest member of BRICS, South Africa’s emerging economy presents a unique perspective into the global marketplace. South Africa’s comfortable climate and diverse landscape offers endless opportunities for exploration and discovery. From exotic beaches to majestic mountain ranges, the country's terrain is like no other. Factor in a temperate climate with plenty of warm sunny days and cool nights, and South Africa’s near-perfect weather is reason enough to at least look into international study opportunities.

Tips for Studying Abroad in South Africa

South African undergraduate degrees typically take three years to complete although some programs take longer. Schools follow a two-semester calendar running from February to June and from July to December. International applications to South African universities are handled at the university level. Apply directly to the university where you are applying; be sure take note of minimum entry requirements which may vary from university to university. You will need a valid study visa to study in South Africa. While no formal language tests are required for admissions, international students will need to show proficiency in English, Afrikaans or one of South Africa’s nine (nine!) other official languages. While English is widely spoken in South Africa, some former Afrikaner universities still offer coursework primarily in Afrikaans. Make sure to inquire in advance about the teaching language at your prospective university. Attributed to an income gap handed down from apartheid, crime remains a very real problem in South Africa. International students can be targets, so learn about common schemes perpetrated by criminals, stay vigilant at all times, and avoid exhibiting indications of wealth.

With domestic student confidence levels at all-time highs and a continued government commitment to higher education, we can only expect to hear more from this emerging nation as an increasingly popular international study destination. Learn more about studying in South Africa here.



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