Close Window

What are the entrance requirements for universities and technikons? How do I go about choosing the right institution? Where can I get financial assistance? How do I register as a foreign student? Get the answers to these and other questions on higher education in South Africa - plus all the related links you need to find out more. What kind of pass rate does my child need to go to university?
The minimum requirement for entrance to one of the countryís 21 universities for an undergraduate degree is a Senior Certificate with matric endorsement issued by the South African Certification Council (SACC) or a certificate of exemption issued by the Matriculation Board on behalf of the SACC.

For matric endorsement, a minimum of three subjects must be passed on the higher grade as opposed to the standard grade. Some universities set additional academic requirements.

For further details on university entrance requirements, visit the Matriculation Board, an organisation that advises the South African Vice-Chancellors Association on minimum university requirements.

  • Click here for requirements related to foreign students.

What will ensure entry into a technikon?
The minimum requirement for technikon study is a National Senior Certificate (matric pass) or similar requirement approved by the Committee of Technikon Principals. For specific courses, additional minimum requirements are sometimes needed.

What are the differences between technikons and universities?
Technikons offer more vocation-oriented education than the universities and their entrance requirements are less stringent. Technikons offer a four-year Btech diploma, although there are opportunities to exit at lower levels so students can pursue their careers and their studies simultaneously. Most technikons also offer advanced degree programmes in certain areas of study.

Universities offer a three-year bachelorís degree as the basic qualification, followed by masterís and doctoral degrees. Career-oriented degrees take four years Ė for example, a BA Ed (education) or more - as in the case of architecture, engineering or medicine. Universities also offer undergraduate and postgraduate diplomas.

Honours degrees usually comprise one year of study after a bachelorís degree. A masterís degree Ė comprised of research or course work or a combination of the two - is awarded after a minimum of one year of study after a four-year undergraduate qualification. Doctorates are awarded after a minimum two years of study and a research thesis.

How do we go about choosing the right institution for our daughter?
There are many top-rate institutions around the country (see box on right for links to all public universities and technikons). Of the public institutions, there are altogether 21 universities, including two distance education universities, 15 technikons, 50 teaching colleges and many agricultural and nursing colleges. There are also a growing number of private higher education institutions, some of world class standard, others less reputable.

Although most universities and technikons are located in major cities, there are also several high quality institutions in outlying areas. Your decision will depend on your daughterís matric results, preferred field of study, funds available and personal preference. (See below for information on student finance.)

As a foreign student, what are my chances of studying in South Africa?
Over the past few years South Africa has become an increasingly popular place to study for students from the continent and the rest of the world. There are currently around 20 000 foreign students in the country. Value for money, diversity of experience, top academic offerings and the vast array of research opportunities in a country with both developed and developing dimensions are some of the reasons foreign students are coming here in growing numbers.

For students wanting to study abroad visit Studying in South Africa. This is a useful website with plenty of information for foreign students on the country, its universities, technikons and technical colleges. The site provides basic information on study permits, visas etc and gives a useful introduction to the higher education system. It also provides links to all the institutions and gives plenty of information on the different offerings of each. Order the publication in hardcopy from the site.

Foreign students need to apply for a study permit at the South African High Commission, Embassy, Consulate or Trade Mission in their country. Study permits, which are renewed annually, are given for studies in certain fields. For more detailed, step-by-step information, visit Studying in SAís student info page.

The South African Qualifications Authority will evaluate the level of education obtained so far by a foreign student, to determine their entry level. The Matriculation Board will also do this for students applying to universities.

How many students are enrolled in higher education?
Student enrolment in higher education doubled between 1986 and 1996 and continues to grow, mostly in technikons. This is appropriate in a country with an oversupply of university graduates in the social sciences and a need for more vocation-oriented skills. As of 2001, there were 325 9456 students at universities, 66 488 of them post-graduate students and 166 919 technikon students, 2 312 of them, in post-graduate study. For the latest information on the number of under-graduate and post-graduate enrolments at each university and technikon, click here.

Where can I get a bank loan or bursary to further my studies?
The government-funded National Student Financial Aid Scheme administers bursaries to financially needy students by allocating funds to higher education institutions, which in turn offer bursaries to individual students.

  • Tel: (021) 797 8161
  • Fax: (021) 797 8131
  • Postal Address: Private Bag X1, Plumstead, Cape Town 7801
  • E-mail
  • Web site
Universities and technikons offer bursaries and scholarships and supply information on general scholarships available (contact the student finance section). Also try their libraries for more information.

Banks also give student study loans. Go to Ananzi for a list of links to South African banks, some which will provide specific information on student loans.

For more scholarship opportunities check out:

SA-USA Fulbright Commission. Post-graduate study grants (Masters and PhD level) to the United States.

  • Tel: (012) 312 5175/ 04/ 44
  • Fax: (012) 321 1586
  • Postal Address: PO Box 28059, Sunnyside, Pretoria 0132
  • E-mail
  • Web site

Educational Opportunities Council. Offers bursaries to South African students to higher education institutions around the world.

  • Tel: 0860 101 236
  • Fax: (011) 838 5389
  • Postal address: PO Box 3323, Johannesburg 2000
  • E-mail
  • Web site

Opportunities in higher education. Department of Education web page with links to local and international opportunities, and to a directory of scholarship, fellowship and exchange programme offers.

Northern Cape Premier's Education Trust Fund. Offers bursaries for full-time study in particular fields at South African universities to academically deserving and financially needy Northern Cape residents.

What opportunities exist for research?
The country spends around R5-billion a year on research and development and is recognised as a world leader in several fields of research, including organismic biology, earth sciences, astronomy and clinical medicine. There are also hundreds of researchers who have achieved international recognition as leaders in their fields of research.

  • For more information on research opportunities, click here.
Is it true that the higher education sector is currently undergoing transformation?
The legacy of apartheid left a duplicated and fragmented higher education sector. Its size and shape is now being redesigned so that the sector more closely meets the countryís social and economic needs. The plan is to steer more students into the sciences and embark on an equity drive to compel institutions to open their doors to more black, women and disabled students and staff, by withholding funding if they do not comply. As part of the restructuring plan to eradicate duplication and establish centres of excellence, some institutions are likely to close or merge with others.
  • For more information on the transformation of the higher education sector, click here.