Universities in South Africa: For International Students, No Application Fee, Ranking and Scholarships

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Universities in South Africa: For Overseas Students, Ranking, Scholarships, and More

Are you considering relocating to South Africa for higher education as an international student? Besides being a melting pot of cultures, the Rainbow Nation is also a hub for top-notch academia for students worldwide. Ready to explore hallowed institutes in the country? Then dive into this blog to discover everything you need to know about the universities in South Africa. We will cover top institutes in the country for international students, their global rankings, application fees, scholarships they offer and much more. Read on to know more!

Why Choose South Africa to Study?

So what makes the universities in South Africa an attractive option for students to study abroad? Mostly it is the perfect blend of academic excellence, affordability, and adventure the “Mother of Mankind” offers. South Africa has 5 universities ranking under the top 400 universities in QS World Rankings 2024, 4 in US News and World Report 2024, and 3 in THE World Rankings 2024. You’ll find programs in various fields, from engineering and business to wildlife conservation and African studies. 

Compared to destinations like the US or UK, South Africa offers significantly lower tuition fees (average of ZAR 14,000 – 34,000 per year), making it a budget-friendly option. The cost of living in South Africa is around ZAR 5,300 – 13,000 per month, which will vary with your lifestyle and spending habits.

Besides studies, there are plenty of cultural exploration and wondrous sights for learners to experience on their day off. You can trapeze through beaches, mountains, safaris, and vineyards, or immerse yourself in the nation’s rich cultural tapestry through its 11 official and other unofficial languages. The choice is yours!

Also Read: Top 10 Universities in Africa 2024

Top 10 Universities in South Africa (with Rankings)

The total number of public universities in South Africa is 23. Out of them, 11 are traditional, 6 are technological universities (or technikons), and the remaining 6 are comprehensive institutes. Many private and international universities also have campuses in the country, providing many options for students to choose from. Let’s take a look:

University QS World Ranking 2024
University of Cape Town =173
University of Witwatersrand =264
Stellenbosch University 283
University of Johannesburg 306
University of Pretoria =323
University of Kwazulu-Natal 621-630
North-West University 801-850
University of South Africa 851-900
Rhodes University 901-950
University of the Western Cape 951-1000
University of the Free State 1001-1200

That said, here are some of the top institutes in Africa for international students in 2024:

  1. University of KwaZulu-Natal
  2. University of Johannesburg
  3. Wits University
  4. Stellenbosch University
  5. University of Pretoria
  6. North-West University
  7. Rhodes University
  8. University of the Free State
  9. Central University of Technology

South African Universities: Tuition Fee

The universities in South Africa charge an average of ZAR 14,000 – 34,000 per year from international students. Given below is a rough estimate of the international student tuition fee range for different program levels (in South African Rand):

Level Tuition Fee
Undergraduate R45,000 – R78,500 per year
Postgraduate R50,000 – R85,000 per year

Also Read: Online Universities in South Africa: Distance Learning, Colleges, Courses, Fee

Universities in South Africa with No Application Fee

Here’s a list of universities in South Africa that don’t charge application fees from students:

  1. University of Johannesburg
  2. North-West University (NWU)
  3. University of the Free State (UFS)
  4. Sol Plaatje University
  5. Central University of Technology (CUT)
  6. Nelson Mandela University (NMU)
  7. Walter Sisulu University (WSU)
  8. University of the Western Cape (UWC)

South African Universities Open for 2024 Applications

If you have decided to enrol in one of the universities in South Africa, here are the institutes that are currently accepting applications for the academic year 2024, along with their application fees:

University Application Fee
University of Johannesburg (UJ) ZAR 200
Durban University of Technology (DUT) ZAR 220
Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) ZAR 240
University of Fort Hare (UFH) ZAR 120
University of Limpopo (UL) Free
University of South Africa (UNISA) ZAR 125
University of Zululand (UNIZULU) ZAR 220
Vaal University of Technology (VUT) ZAR 100

South Africa has a diverse range of study options for international students, with some disciplines attracting more interest than others. Here’s a list of some popular choices, along with their average tuition fees:

Popular Disciplines Average Tuition Fees
Business & Management R86,400 – R251,520 per year
Engineering R109,760 – R314,400 per year
Accounting & Finance R70,200 – R235,800 per year
Natural Sciences R94,560 – R284,160 per year
Social Sciences R62,880 – R219,840 per year
Computer Science & Information Technology R94,560 – R284,160 per year
Tourism & Hospitality R78,600 – R188,640 per year
Education R62,880 – R157,200 per year
Law R125,760 – R346,160 per year
Medicine & Healthcare R235,800 – R471,600 per year

Universities in South Africa: Scholarships Available

Apart from world-class learning, universities in South Africa also provide various scholarships and financial aid to international students. Generally, the government, universities, and external organizations provide and fund these scholarships. Some of them are as follows

  1. Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships
  2. DRD Scholarships for Sub-Saharan Africans
  3. The Mandela Rhodes Scholarships
  4. Scholarships for LLM/MPhil (Human Rights Democratisation in Africa) at the University of Pretoria
  5. Bertha Scholarships for Social Innovators in Africa
  6. IAL Research Grants For Doctoral Studies
  7. HKADC Overseas Arts Administration Scholarships
  8. POGO-SCOR Visiting Fellowships For Developing Countries
  9. TEG Postgraduate Training Fellowship
  10. TUT Postgraduate Scholarships
  11. Royal Society International Exchange Programme
  12. MasterCard Foundation Scholarships at the University of Cape Town (UCT)


Q.1 Which’s the top university in South Africa?

Ans. The University of Cape Town (UCT) is currently in the #1 position in South Africa, with a global rank of 237.

Q.2 What’s the cost of studying in South Africa?

Ans. For international students, the average tuition fees in South Africa ranges from ZAR 14,000-34,000 per year.

Q.3 What scholarship opportunities are available for international students studying in South Africa?

Ans. Here are some scholarships international students can avail of when studying in South Africa:
1. Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships
2. DRD Scholarships for Sub-Saharan Africans
3. The Mandela Rhodes Scholarships
4. Scholarships for LLM/MPhil (Human Rights Democratisation in Africa) at the University of Pretoria
5. Bertha Scholarships for Social Innovators in Africa

Relevant Reads:

Top Universities that Offer Medicine in South Africa 2024 Music Universities in South Africa: Eligibility, Courses, Fees, Scholarships
Top Law Universities in South Africa in 2024: Requirements, Cost, How to Apply? Can Students Work Part-Time Jobs in South Africa?
Top Art Universities in South Africa in 2024: Requirements, Fees, Process List of 50 Best Universities in Africa 2024

We hope that this blog gave you a complete insight into the universities in South Africa in different aspects such as ranking, no application fee, scholarships and so on. Subscribe to Leverage Edu today to discover more universities to study abroad. Thank you for reading! 

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