Student Abroad in South Africa

In South Africa

Prior to 1994, international cooperation as an aspect of South African higher education was greatly restricted as a consequence of the country’s political and economic isolation. However, after 1994, South Africa reintegrated rapidly into the world economy as it was welcomed back as a member of the UN, the Organisation of African Unity, the Commonwealth and a host of other international organisations.
Growth of International Students
South Africa welcomes the diversity and contribution that international students bring. You will find that the universities in South Africa reflect the rich diversity of the South African population as well and, together with international students and staff, are a dynamic international community. In South Africa, we aim to give all students an international experience, thereby contributing to our goal of ensuring that all graduates are able to live and work in the global environment.
Major studies in Australia and the United States forecast the tripling of current levels of demand for international students in their respective countries over the next 20 years, meaning that international student mobility in the world would increase from 2 million currently to seven million by 2025. There are substantial opportunities for growing numbers of international students to study in South Africa.

Higher Education in South Africa

The new public higher education landscape in South Africa consists of 22 public institutions: 11 universities, five universities of technology and six comprehensive institutions. In addition, two national institutes of higher education are in the process of being established in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape.

Living in South Africa

South Africa lies at the southern tip of the African continent between latitudes 22° and 35° south. It is flanked in the west by the Atlantic 0cean, in the south and the east by the Indian 0cean, in the north by Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, and in the north-east by Mozambique and Swaziland.
The population is currently estimated at about 46,000,000 people. This heterogeneous composition embodies a unique diversity of cultures, religions, languages and lifestyles.
South Africa covers an area of 1,127,000 square metres – about one-eighth the size of the USA and nearly five times the size of the United Kingdom.
Throughout the year, Standard Time in South Africa is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, one hour ahead of Central European Wintertime, and seven hours ahead of US Eastern Standard Winter Time. Consult the local telephone directory for detailed world time zones. There is no daylight saving time in South Africa.
 Overview: Mostly sunny and temperate
 Sunshine hours: The average number of sunshine hours is among the highest in the world: 8.5 hours a day
 Winters: Winters are mild and clear, although snowfall often occurs on the higher mountain ranges
 Summers: South Africa experiences summer rainfall usually in the form of short afternoon thunderstorms
 Seasons: As South Africa lies in the southern hemisphere, seasons are the reverse of those in the northern hemisphere
 Average Temperature: In Johannesburg, summer: 28 degrees Celsius; winter:17 degrees Celsius.
There are 11 official languages in South Africa: English, Afrikaans, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu. Most South Africans understand and speak English.
City and town power systems mostly operate at 220/250 volts, AC 50Hz. Adapters for electric shavers and hair dryers are obtainable locally.

Health risks
There is a Malaria risk when travelling in the northern regions. This can be kept at bay with a range of medicines on offer. We advise that you speak to your doctor about a suitable prophylactic.
No international immunization is required when entering South Africa. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers who have left an infected country. If you plan to visit the northern provinces of South Africa, it is advisable to take anti-malaria medication obtainable from pharmacies or doctors.

Monetary Information
The South African currency unit is the Rand, denoted by the symbol R. (R1.00 = 0.14 dollars, May 2007). There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency you may bring into the country, but it must be declared at Customs & Excise when you arrive.


South African banks are able to accommodate all international transactions. Banks are open from Monday to Friday (09:00 to 15:30) and on Saturdays from 08:30 to 11:00. It is recommended that international students open a bank account. It is a relatively simple process to open an account at the major banks. For this purpose you would require proof of registration, your passport and proof of accommodation while studying in South Africa.

The following figures are an estimate of a student’s monthly budget:
Expense Cost per Month
Housing R 2,000 (Average)
Food R 1, 500
Entertainment & transport R 5, 500
Other R 500
Total per month R 4, 500

Other Expenses an international student will incur:
Expense Cost
Books and Course Materials R 5, 000 (Annual; variable depending on course)
Medical cover R 3, 600 (Annual; compulsory – Prosperity Health rates)
Clothing R 2, 000 (Recommended for winter months in Johannesburg)
Settling in R 1, 500 (Recommended for first arrival)
Deposit for rent R 2, 000 (Applicable if renting an apartment)
Study permit renewal R 425 (Applicable if a student needs to extend the study period)

Total R 14, 525 ( Currently 1.00 ZAR = 0.0921331 GBP 21-10-2010)

Foreign Exchange

Traveller’s cheques and foreign currency can be exchanged at most banks. Businesses, tour operators, airlines and hotels generally accept international credit cards, including Visa, Master, American Express and Diners Club cards. There is also a facility at the Johannesburg International Airport arrivals hall.
Credit cards
Most major credit cards and traveller’s cheques in major currencies are accepted.

Tourist Attractions
South Africa is one of the world’s most exciting holiday destinations. There are many art galleries and museums in the Johannesburg area.
More information on tourist attractions in South Africa is available on the website of the South African Tourism Board (SATOUR) and at: Information on Johannesburg is available on their official website:

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