Low Tuition universities in South Africa, Admission Requirements and Essential Information for International Students

South Africa is a country on the southernmost tip of the African continent, marked by several distinct ecosystems. It shares borders with Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and two independent countries, Lesotho and Swaziland.  It  is the second largest economy in Africa

South Africa has a population of 60 million people. The country has not one, but three capital cities: The country’s administrative capital is Pretoria (Tshwane), legislative capital is Cape Town and judicial capital is Bloemfontein (Mangaung); the largest city is Johannesburg.

South Africa has 11 official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu. However, after English that is used as a primary language, the most commonly spoken languages are Zulu, Xhosa and Afrikaans, which is similar to Dutch. The currency used in South Africa is the South African Rand (ZAR).

This article highlights the higher education system in South Africa , Admission requirements, Costs of living,  Tuition fees and also the list of low tuition universities in South Africa

Higher Education System in South Africa

The South African education system offers Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD degrees.

Bachelor’s degree:

  • A Bachelors degree typically takes three years to complete, although students can opt to complete an additional year of study – requiring a research thesis in the same area as the Bachelors – to receive a Bachelors degree with Honours.

 Master’s degree :

  • Masters degree in South Africa takes one to two years to complete, depending on your major.
  • The academic year is divided into two semesters, from February to June and from mid-July to November.


PhD degree:

  • PhD programmes at South African universities follow the same structure as those from European institutions.
  • Over a period of three to five years, with a minimum of a four-year duration for part-time studies, you’ll complete a supervised thesis of 80,000 to 100,000 words.

Admission Requirements

The requirements vary with the type of course and university you choose.  Here is the list of common documents you will usually need to submit to complete your application:

  • Completed and signed  application form.
  • Evidence of application fee paid.
  • Copies of your academic transcripts and degrees.
  • For some management programs, GMAT results are required.
  • If English is not your first language you may need to submit an English language test score for English taught degrees. South African universities will normally accept either the IELTS or TOEFL tests.
  • Letter of recommendation.
  • Statement of purpose.
  • Portfolio of your Work.
  • CV/ Resume listing all your academic and work experience.
  • Passport-size photographs.
  • A copy of your passport or identity card.
  • A high school diploma (if you apply for a Bachelor’s).
  • A Bachelor’s or Master’s diploma (if you apply for a Master’s or PhD respectively).

Costs of Living in South Africa

Students living expenses in South Africa is lower than most of the advanced countries, so you do not have to worry if you are planning to study in the country.  As a student in South Africa you can choose between the following options:

Student accommodation costs:

When making living arrangements in South Africa, you’ll have two main choices:

  • university dormitories:  Students can choose between different types of rooms (e.g. single, double), and prices vary from one university to another.

Single rooms in a dormitory will cost you around 46,000-60,000 ZAR per year, while shared double rooms around 43,000 ZAR per year.

  • renting a flat: You can find rooms for every budget depending on the location and facilities provided, with prices ranging from 4,000-25,000 ZAR per month. You can share a larger apartment with other students to reduce costs.

 Food costs:

The following are some prices of the basic groceries:

  • Milk: RS10
  • Bread (500g): RS9.38
  • A dozen eggs: RS18
  • Chicken (1 kg): RS48
  • Rice (1 kg): RS16


Transportation costs

South Africa has one of the least expensive transport systems in the world, although most people use taxis. The average monthly cost for transport is as low as R500–R650 for buses and trains.

Public transportation is fairly limited in South African cities.

The average cost for a one-way journey is R16. Taxis are also inexpensive and range between R60 and R120 for short journeys.

Tuition Fees

The tuition fees you are expected to pay will depend on more than one variable:

The first variable is your home country. If you are from a Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member country, then you will pay the same tuition fees as native South African nationals. If you are from any other country, you will pay an international student fee.

The second variable is the specific university you choose to study at. Each institution is able to set their own tuition fees, and fees are not dictated by the government or a governing body.

Tuition Fee for Undergraduate:

International students pay a minimum (R70, 000/£4,425) of the standard course fee plus an international student fee of R35, 000 (£2,213) a year (total minimum R110, 000/£6,955).

Tuition Fees for Postgraduate:

Universities in South Africa set their tuition rates, so exact fees and policies vary from institution to institution. Students from the Southern Africa Development Community(SADC) member countries are eligible to pay local tuition fees.

Other international Masters students can expect tuition fees to range from R25, 000 to R70,000 (USD 1,750-4,900), depending on the university and program.

Some MBAs and specialized postgraduate courses can cost up to R410, 000 (USD 28,720).

As an international student, you might also be required to pay an ‘international term fee’ besides tuition fees. This could be as much as R55, 000 (USD 3,850).


Ph.D. Tuition Fee:

PhDs in South Africa follow a similar pattern to European and American programs. They focus on the candidate completing a supervised thesis that adds original research and knowledge to a field of study. Ph.D. programs in South Africa are examined by the thesis. This is normally between 80,000 and 100,000 words.

Low Tuition Universities in South Africa

  • University of Witwatersrand
  • University of Cape Coast (UCT)
  • University of Cape Town
  • Stellenbosch University
  • University of Kwazulu Natal
  • University of Pretoria
  • University of Johannesburg
  • The University of the Western Cape
  • Rhodes University
  • North-West University
  • University of Free State
  • Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
  • University of Fort Hare
  • University of Limpopo
  • University of Venda
  • University of Zululand
About Campman 203 Articles
An electrical and electronic engineer from a prestigious university of technology in Nigeria. Helping job seekers and international students get quality info about jobs and study abroad opportunities are priorities. Folks call me "Spaflous Juncky"

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