Higher Education

Study in South Africa

If you want to study in South Africa, here is a guide to higher education options, including information on the various universities in South Africa.

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By Expatica

Updated 3-1-2024

If you want to study in South Africa, there are plenty of institutions for higher education in South Africa that offer undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral degrees. There are 23 public institutions: 11 traditional, six technical, and six comprehensive universities. There are also about 100 other private schools to look at. Local and foreign students can find educational training on a global level; classes are available not only in local languages like Afrikaans but also in English. Below are some of the best South African universities.


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Universities in South Africa

Traditional universities in South Africa generally offer more theoretical-based training.

The University of Cape Town was founded in 1829 and is an international university; its staff members and students come from around 100 countries. The university has seven departments: Higher Education Development, Commerce, Engineering & the Built Environment, Health Sciences, Humanities, Law, and Science.

The University of Pretoria is one of the best research institutions in South Africa. It offers approximately 1,800 academic programs in both English and Afrikaans. The university consists of the Gordon Institute of Business Science and 9 faculties: Economic and Management Sciences, Education, Engineering, Built Environment, Information Technology, Health Sciences, Humanities, Law, Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Theology and Veterinary Science.

The University of Stellenbosch sits among the top research universities in South Africa with 24,000 students and 800 staff. The well-recognized institution offers similar programs to others in the country, but also has a faculty of Military Sciences.

The University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg offers students a high level of training in diverse spheres like Health Sciences, Humanities, Science,  Engineering and the Built Environment, Commerce Law, and Management.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal was founded in 2004 after the union of the University of Durban-Westville and the University of Natal. It has a college model structure and its five campuses are located in the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

Rhodes University offers not only a high level of education but also an exciting social life for students. With over 70 clubs and societies, the university encourages students to develop a wide set of skills in leadership, philosophy, arts, sports, and more.

Technical universities in South Africa

Universities of technology in South Africa are called technikons and offer their students vocational-oriented programs.

The Tshwane University of Technology, founded in 2004, accepts approximately 60,000 students every year. It is generally engaged with the social and economic development of the South African region. The institution offers 170 academic programs in seven different faculties: Engineering and the Built Environment, Science, Humanities, Information and Communication Technology, Arts, Economics and Finance.

> The Central University of Technology is, in fact, the only technical university in in the National Medical Device Innovation Platform. It also offers programs at regional learning centers for those who can’t study full-time on the main campus.

The Durban University of Technology is part of the International Association of Universities. The school offers high-quality teaching, research, and student life. The institutions consist of seven faculties: Business Studies Unit, Accounting and Informatics, Applied Science, Arts, Engineering and the Built Environment, Health Sciences, and Management Sciences.

Combined universities in South Africa

Comprehensive universities in South Africa combine both types of training that technical and traditional universities offer.

> The University of South Africa was founded in 1873 and is, in fact, one of the largest universities in the world. The school has approximately 300,000 students. It is one of the leading distance academic institutions in South Africa with five different colleges, one Graduate School of Business Leadership, and an Institute for African Renaissance Studies.

> The University of Johannesburg is among the biggest research institutions in South Africa and actually focuses on African epistemology. It strongly engages with the needs of the African society, and its sustainable development and future growth. It also offers a variety of programs in Art, Design, Architecture, Economics, Humanities, Law, Management and Engineering.

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University is in Port Elisabeth. The university attracts many international students each year because of its professional academic training. The university offers programs in seven different faculties: Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Business and Economic Sciences, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Engineering, the Built Environment and Information Technology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Faculty of Law, and Faculty of Science.

In addition, there are a large number of private colleges and universities in South Africa. Further information can be found at www.dhet.gov.za.