Why South Africa is the Best Country to Study Abroad in Africa

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Of the 10 best universities in Africa, on the Times Higher Education Rankings of best universities, South Africa is home to the best five; and the top three universities on the continent are in the rainbow nation. This is no coincidence. South Africa has invested tremendously into its educational sector since the end of apartheid and the rankings are just a part of the success story.

While we may argue about the absolute validity of online university rankings, the result is evident in this case. South Africa is the best country in Africa to study abroad and the rankings are not just the only reason why. From the quality of education offered to the many scholarships available and even the work-study options, South Africa is Africa’s best study abroad location for many reasons. In this post, we examine why South Africa is the best country to study abroad in Africa. If you are new here, you are welcome. Consider subscribing to After School Africa to continue exploring opportunities.

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  1. Home to the best universities in Africa

The University of Cape Town, University of Witwatersrand and Stellenbosch University are Africa’s top three universities respectively. They are all in South Africa.  The universities also rank relatively high in the world at 136th, 194th and 251-300 respectively. Two other South African universities round off the top ten. The University of KwaZulu-Natal and North-West University. If quality education is what you seek, South Africa has plenty of it. Its universities offer education almost on the same level as their counterparts in the west. South Africa has been able to achieve this level of growth due to the continuous investment in education done by successive governments in the country.  In 2013, the South African government spent 21 percent of its national budget on education with 10 percent earmarked for higher education, more than countries like the U.S, Germany, India, Japan, and Canada. In 2019 basic education was allocated over 16 billion dollars and there are plans to raise the budget even further in 2020.

  1. Collaborations with foreign partners

One area most South African universities stand out is in their collaboration with foreign universities and organization. This benefits the educational system in the country as it facilitates faculty and student exchanges, particularly the development of dual degree programs. These collaborations also help the universities develop their curriculum to align more with some of the best universities in the world and there are the added benefits of joint research. The US University Partnership initiative in South Africa is one of such collaborations and provides funding for programs that enhance collaboration between South African and American universities in diverse areas. Coventry University, Goldsmith University and University College London all have partnerships with universities in South Africa and offer student exchange, research development and bursaries to universities and students in South Africa.

  1. Modest tuition fees and cost of living

Given the quality of education on offer, tuition fees in South Africa almost do not complement the quality of education you get. South Africa’s best University, the University of Cape Town charges tuition fees of around $3,200 per annum. The average tuition fee for undergraduate programs is $2500-$4500. For postgraduate programs, it is around $2700-$3000. This is modest when compared to its counterpart in the world that rank around the same level globally. For instance, the University of Alberta in Canada ranks joint 136th best in the world with the University of Cape Town but tuition fees there are in the range of $7,000 to $29,000. The cost of living in South Africa is also modest given its wealth and economy. A budget of $6000-$7500 will suffice for an academic year.

  1. Unique learning and Teaching style

South African universities are divided into three categories; The traditional universities, which offer theoretically-oriented degrees; The universities of technology, otherwise known as ‘technikons’, which provide vocational degrees; and finally, there are comprehensive universities, which take a combined approach. South African universities are different from most universities in the world as students who study there do not receive an overall grade for their bachelor’s degree with a level of honors (such as 2:1 or 1st class). Instead, after their third year of study, students have the option to either graduate with a bachelor’s degree certificate or take a further one-year honors course in order to get their honors certification. Also, alongside the more traditional subjects, South African universities offer students unique learning opportunities in exciting new fields like environmental conservation, development studies, and animal management. While some institutions in other countries provide the same programs, few can boast such easy access to nature reserves or conservation spaces where students can work alongside professionals and local communities.

  1. Work-study options and Scholarships are available

These are two important factors to consider when choosing a study abroad destination and South Africa has both. Student visas in South Africa allow students to work while pursuing their studies. However, international students may only work up to a maximum of 20 hours per week. The student can work part-time until the expiry of the student visa and not after. Scholarships are also available to both domestic and international students studying in South Africa. The Mastercard foundation scholarship is a fully-funded scholarship available to both undergraduate and postgraduate students in the country. For more information on scholarships in South Africa, visit our website www.Afterschoolafrica.com.

Other factors that make South Africa the best in the content for higher education include its diversity, warm and welcoming people and its beautiful landscapes. The country has its challenges and has suffered occasional outbreaks of xenophobic attacks on foreigners but these remain confined to ghettos and suburbs. The country continues to witness an increase in the number of foreign students it enrolls and remains the top African country for study abroad amongst Africans. As of 2014, South Africa was the fourth most popular destination for internationally mobile degree seekers from across Africa, behind France, the U.S., and the U.K.  The largest sender by far is Zimbabwe, which, per UIS, sent a reported 10,602 degree-seeking students to South Africa. Other top countries of origin include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, Lesotho, Nigeria, and Swaziland, each of which accounted for more than 2,000 enrollments in the same year.

What are your thoughts? With its concerted efforts to invest in its educational sector, do you think South Africa will remain Africa’s educational power house for some time? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comment section.