Tuition Fees and Living Costs in South Africa

Want to study a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in South Africa? You’re not the only one! Over 40,000 international students enrol at South African universities every year. Some of the main reasons behind this growing trend are:

  • the affordable education and living expenses
  • the diverse and unique culture and society
  • the natural beauty of the country

Before you decide if studying in South Africa is right for you, let’s first take a look at tuition fees and living costs:

1. University tuition fees in South Africa

Tuition fees at public universities

There are over 20 public universities in South Africa, and tuition fees vary depending on their policy, the type and length of studies, the students’ nationality, and so on.

Let’s take the University of the Witwatersrand as an example:

  • Bachelor’s degrees: double local tuition; you pay twice as much as local students, who usually pay between 1,500–3,850 EUR per study programme.
  • Master’s degrees: double local tuition, you pay twice as much as local students, who usually pay between 720–12,800 EUR per study programme. You also need to pay an additional International Registration Fee (IRF) of 340 EUR.

Students from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) member countries (Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, etc.) pay the same tuition fees as local South African students.

Keep in mind that these fees don’t include the costs of books and other study materials or the costs of memberships at (sports) clubs.

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Tuition fees at private universities

Private universities in South Africa can be more expensive. They way they calculate tuition might also be different: some have one amount for the entire study programme, others use a ‘cost per credit’ system, and so on.

For example, the Cornerstone Institute employs the ‘cost per credit’ system. The price for one credit ranges between 14 and 30 EUR, and study programmes have between 120–144 credits per year. There are additional fees; here are only some of them:

  • application fee: 17 EUR
  • annual payment plan: 130 EUR
  • technology fee: 25 EUR

Most affordable universities in South Africa

Based on the academic courses listed on our portals, these are some of the cheapest universities in South Africa:

Tuition at top-ranked universities

  • University of Cape Town: between 2,285–4,350 EUR/study programme + an International Admin Fee of 205 EUR + International Term Fees that range between 1,160–3,200 EUR
  • University of the Witwatersrand: double local tuition, which is 720–12,800 EUR/study programme for local students; for postgraduate degrees (Master’s, PhD), internationals also pay the International Registration Fee of 340 EUR
  • Stellenbosch University: between 2,150–3,500 EUR/year for Bachelor’s degrees

Cape Town, Africa

2. Student living costs in South Africa

International students need between 300 and 750 EUR to cover the monthly costs of living in South Africa. The overall amount can go up or down based on your lifestyle and spending habits.

The official currency is the South African rand (ZAR or R). At the time of writing this article, 1 EUR equals around 19.50 ZAR.

3. Student accommodation costs

There are two main types of accommodation:

  • university dormitories: 150–250 EUR/month. Students can choose between different types of rooms (e.g. single, double), and prices vary from one university to another.
  • renting a flat: 300–715 EUR/month depending on the number of rooms and the proximity to the city centre. You can share a larger apartment with other students to reduce costs. Monthly utilities (70–150 EUR) are paid separately.

4. Food costs in South Africa

South Africa is very affordable. Students don’t usually spend more than 100–150 EUR per month on food and groceries. These are some of the average prices for food products:

  • 1 loaf of bread: 0.70 EUR
  • 1 litre of milk: 0.80 EUR
  • 12 eggs: 1.55 EUR
  • 1 kg of local cheese: 5.50 EUR
  • 1 kg of apples: 1.25 EUR
  • 1 kg of bananas: 1.10 EUR
  • 1 meal at affordable restaurants: 6.15 EUR

Check out other living costs in South Africa.

5. Transportation costs

The three main types of transport are:

  • train (commuter or high-speed)
  • bus (subsidised or unsubsidised)
  • taxi

One monthly transport pass costs around 35 EUR without student discounts. Still, many people choose taxi rides on a regular basis. The starting fee is 1 EUR, then you pay 0.60 EUR per km.

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6. Extra costs in South Africa

  • entertainment (sports, concerts, cinema): 30–70 EUR/month
  • private health insurance: depends on the type of medical insurance, the length of your stay, and the included benefits
  • visa application fee: around 22 EUR

7. University scholarships and grants

Here’s a list of online websites and databases with scholarships and grants for students who want to study in South Africa:

Alternatively, you should check the official website of your favourite higher education institution. There, you can find info about different scholarships or financial aid provided by the university.

Don’t forget to also apply for the Studyportals Scholarship: International Distinction Awards.

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