You can find some of the best universities in South Africa; however, choosing the right one can be quite daunting. There are 26 universities across South Africa, and they are divided into three categories:
- 9 universities of technology that are focused on vocationally oriented education
- 6 comprehensive universities that offer a combination of academic and vocational diplomas and degrees
- 11 traditional universities that offer theoretically oriented university degrees
The 26 universities are:
- University of Cape Town
- Cape Peninsula University of Technology
- University of the Western Cape
- Stellenbosch University
- Nelson Mandela University
- Rhodes University
- University of Fort Hare
- Sol Plaatje University
- University of the Free State
- Central University of Technology
- Walter Sisulu University
- North-West University
- Vaal University of Technology
- University of Johannesburg
- Mangosuthu University of Technology
- University of KwaZulu-Natal
- University of the Witwatersrand
- Durban University of Technology
- Tshwane University of Technology
- Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University
- University of South Africa
- University of Pretoria
- University of Zululand
- University of Mpumalanga
- University of Limpopo
- University of Venda
Applying to a university in South Africa is quite a process, and you need to spend a fair amount of time on your application to increase your chance of being accepted. Knowing how to stand out on your university application is a great benefit.
How do I stand out on a university application?
Make sure to research the university that you want to apply to, as well as the courses that you’re interested in. It’s really important that you pick the right university as you’ll be there for a good few years. Universities also usually have lots of information on the different courses they offer, so it helps to go through that information to really understand what your course will consist of and decide if it’s the right course for you.
It’s best to have a backup option in case your first choice of a university doesn’t accept you. The reality is that they can’t accept every applicant, and it’s better to be prepared than be disappointed by not getting into any university. Apply to more than one university, and try to apply to courses that have different requirements to increase your chances of being accepted to one of them.
It also helps to have a letter of recommendation from somebody that will speak highly of you. Approach a teacher or other professional who knows you well and can talk about your strengths in a way that will appeal to the university.
Some universities have an admissions test, and it helps if you look online beforehand and take some practice tests. You don’t have to study for these tests, as they test skills you should already have, but it helps to familiarise yourself with the types of questions they’ll ask.
Make sure you fill out your application properly and that you don’t misunderstand any of the questions. If you need help, then you can always find people willing to help online or approach a teacher at your school to help you.
The application criteria for universities in South Africa differ per university. To get into a university, you will need the minimum requirement of a Bachelor’s pass in matric. Different courses have different application criteria. This varies per course, so it’s important that you check that before applying. Some courses might need you to have passed Maths with 60% or English with 50%, and other various criteria.
Application dates for universities are different for each one; however, they follow similar trends. Most universities open their applications at the beginning of August, and then applications close at the end of September. Students would need to check the application dates with the university they are applying to. Some universities still allow late applications, but you would need to check this with the university.
Every university has a different application fee. Universities charge this fee due to the admin work involved with processing each application. Fees range from around R100 to around R400. Fees also vary depending on whether you apply online or submit a hard application.
Universities require you to submit specific documents for them to consider your application. These documents include:
- Your completed university application
- A certified copy of your ID
- A certified copy of your National Senior Certificate. If you are a current Grade 12, then you must submit your Grade 11 results
- Any course-specific documents which could include a recommendation letter
Universities encourage applicants to apply online; however, many people in South Africa don’t have access to a computer. The majority of universities will still allow applicants to drop off a physical copy of their application. University websites have been designed in a way that it’s really easy to apply online, and picking your course and filling out your information is much easier than it used to be. Most universities will give you login information that will then allow you to track your application status. So while it’s possible to hand in a hard copy of your application, try to do it online to get the most out of your application.