Top 10 Universities In South Africa 2024 - Best Universities In South Africa

Top 10 Universities In South Africa 2024 - Best Universities In South Africa

Do you want to experience quality education from top-ranking universities beyond the conventional study-abroad destinations in Europe and the United States? This article on Top 10 Universities In South Africa - Best Universities In South Africa, contains a list of all the top universities in south africa and how to apply to each of them.

South Africa is an amazing study destination for international students, it is home to internationally recognised universities which offer a wide variety of programs. Its universities are also very affordable and welcoming to international students who wish to pursue a degree there. 

Studying in South Africa opens you up to new learning experiences. Outside the campus, you get to explore a diverse culture, rich historical heritage, exotic wildlife, tourist attractions, mouth-watering cuisines and so much more.

Studying in South Africa might be just what you're looking for, and this article will help you find the best universities in south africa.


Read also: 25 Best Universities in South Africa 2024.


In this article:

  1. Why study in South Africa

  2. Table showing the top 10 universities in South Africa 2024

  3. Top 10 universities in South Africa 2024

  • University of Cape Town

  • Stellenbosch University 

  • University of Witwatersrand

  • University of Kwazulu-Natal

  • University of Pretoria

  • Northwest University

  • University of Johannesburg 

  • University of Western cape

  • Rhodes University 

  • University of the Free state

  1. Conclusion


Why Study In South Africa

In Africa, South Africa is at the vanguard of academic excellence, quality education system and technological advancement.

It has 26 public universities spread across vibrant cities, with three of its universities ranked within the top 3 highest ranked African universities. 

Its diverse culture, stunning scenery and fast-developing economy make studying in the country a fantastic study abroad destination for students.

In fact, it is ranked the 3rd largest economy in Africa and maintains its position as the most diversified, industrialised, and technologically advanced when compared to other African countries.

South Africa is home to some of the world's most beautiful tourist centres. From national game reserves, safaris, museums, mountain ranges, luxurious hotels and cities, it has it all.

If you choose to study in South Africa, you get to explore popular spots, such as the Kruger National park, the Garden Route, and Kgalagadi Transfrontier park and also learn about the nation's deep history. 

So it's your best bet if you're looking for quality education at affordable tuition rates, as well as a bit of adventure, South Africa can offer you all of this and more, here are the top 5 reasons to consider studying in South Africa;


  1. Top-quality education

South Africa has one of the best tertiary education systems in Africa. It is the only African country with three of its universities making the list of the 2019 QS world ranking.

Top colleges in south africa offer great academic programmes with student-centred learning experiences and faculties adequately staffed with world-class academics, as well as ultra-modern infrastructures and research institutes. 

So, whether you want to study a bachelor's or master's program, you will surely enjoy top-notch education with a lot of hands-on learning so you never feel left out at any point of the curriculum.


  1. Cultural diversity 

South Africa is a perfect study destination for students who wish to experience new diverse cultures. It has a wide range of black African ethnic groups,(Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho etc ) and a small group of people of Dutch and German descent.

South Africa has 11 official languages and other recognised languages, English and Afrikaans are the most popular means of communication.

While studying, you can use the opportunity to learn a second language and also enjoy the true South African lifestyle.


  1. Affordable tuition rates

Universities in South Africa have a very affordable and flexible tuition fees structure. The average tuition fee in South Africa will cost you about $3000-$5000 which is relatively low compared to the UK and US.

However, tuition fees may vary based on  location, degree type, Institution type and student categorization.


  1. Low cost of Living

Affordable student residences are available for students who wish to live on-campus. And like tuition, the cost of living in South Africa also varies due to factors like school location. Big cities like Cape Town, and Johannesburg are more expensive than smaller towns or cities.


  1. Easy Visa Application

The student visa application process in South Africa is very straightforward, as long as you check the list of requirements for the student visa, you are most likely going to be given a visa to study in South Africa.


Table Showing The Top 10 Universities In South Africa

The following table contains a list of the top ten universities in South Africa, their location and tuition fees:



Tuition fees

University of Cape Town 

Cape Town, South Africa 


Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch, South Africa 


University of Witwatersrand

Johannesburg, South Africa 


University of Kwazulu-Natal

Durban, South Africa

On request 

University of Pretoria

Pretoria, South Africa

On request 

Northwest University

Potchefstroom, South Africa

On request 

University of Johannesburg

Johannesburg, South Africa.

On request 

University of Western cape

Cape Town, South Africa

Upon Request

Rhodes University

Grahamstown, South Africa


University of the Free state

Bloemfontein, South Africa

Upon request


See: 15 Best Online Master's Programs in South Africa 2024


Top 10 Universities In South Africa

South Africa is steady overflowing with study and job opportunities which international students can be sure to enjoy if they decide to study there.

Here is a list of the top 10 universities in south africa, with a breakdown of the admission requirements included.

  1. University of Cape Town 

University Of Cape Town

The University of Cape Town(UCT) is the highest-ranked university among the top 10 universities in south africa 2024. It was established in 1829 as a college and was later accredited as a University in 1918, making it the best universities in South Africa.

UCT has a high acceptance rate for international students, it prides itself as an inclusive and research-intensive university that caters to challenges in different areas such as climate change, race, religion, politics, safety and security, education and health with cutting-edge technologies and facilities which makes it one of the best universities in South Africa for medicine.

It also has an active and diverse community of talented students, staff and researchers, who are committed to the transformation, sustainability and maintenance of academic excellence in the University. It is also one of the best law universities in south africa.

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Tuition fee: R110,000

Institution type: Public University 

Admission Requirements

  • A National Senior Certificate(NSC) as certified by Umalusi with an achievement rating of 3(40-49%) or above in 4 recognised NSC 20-credit subjects

  • For undergraduate certificate applications, contact the Admission office or faculty concerned.

  • To qualify for a bachelor's degree, Applicants with an NSC are required to pass a minimum of 4 subjects at an achievement rating of 4(50-59%) or above in any four recognised NSC 20-credit subjects.

  • Matriculation endorsement is needed for applicants with a South African Senior Certificate

  • All applicants must provide proof that they have attained the required level of proficiency in English

  • The calculated APS of 6 subjects, excluding Life Orientation, but including English and any other required subject(s) for the relevant program is also required.

Learn more about the University of Cape Town, tuition fees and 2024 Application process.


  1. Stellenbosch University 

Stellenbosch University is a highly reputable public university located in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The university is amongst the top 5 universities in south africa 2024.

It has a diverse and welcoming community, students, staff and visitors from all over the globe are welcome at SU, regardless of their background, race, social class, religion and disability. 

The university is committed to sustaining its reputation as the top 20 universities in south africa 2024 through research outputs, student pass rates and rated scientists.

It has 10 faculties that offer a long list of academic programmes you can choose from. Stellenbosch is ranked the top best university of technology in south africa.

Location: Stellenbosch, South Africa

Tuition fee: R92,425

Institution type: Public University 

Admission Requirements

  • An achievement rating of 4(50-59%) or above in four 20-credit subjects

  • 30% knowledge of a South African Language of Learning and Teaching( English or Afrikaans) 

  • Final school credentials from International Curriculum(Cambridge International, international baccalaureate etc), including School of Tomorrow

  • Applicants must also meet requirements specific to their selected programme as stipulated in the programme outline

Learn more about Stellenbosch University 2024 application process


  1. University of Witwatersrand

University Of Witwatersrand

The University of Witwatersrand stands among the top universities in south africa 2024, internationally recognised for research, high academic standards and commitment to social justice in Africa and beyond. 

The University of Witwatersrand School of Architecture and planning is among the top colleges that offer architecture in south africa.

Location: Johannesburg, South Africa.

Tuition fee: R74,323

Institution type: Public University 

Admission Requirements


  • International applicants, whether Undergraduates or postgraduates, must present proof of English proficiency.

  • Certified copies of educational qualifications.

  • English must be taken either as a Home language or First Additional Language.

  • Mathematics is compulsory for programmes in Engineering and the Built environment, Commerce, Law and Management and Science.

  • APS calculation is based on the best seven subjects including life orientation

  • Matriculation exemption is required for first-degree study in the University of Wits

  • Copy of Birth Certificate or passport 

  • Sworn translation of all documents not issued in the English language 

  • International applicants must pay an exemption included in the non-refundable application fee 

 Learn more about the University of Witwatersrand 2024 application process


  1. The University of Kwazulu-Natal

Established on the 1st January 2004 as a result of the merger between the University of Natal and the University of Durban-Westville, the University of Kwazulu-Natal(UKZN) is among the top 20 universities in south africa, a leading institution in Higher education in Africa. 

It is a research-led Public University with 5 campuses located in the beautiful province of Kwazulu-Natal.  

UKZN has the top business schools in the south with a rich history of academic excellence, innovation, and entrepreneurial and community engagement.

Location: Berea Durban, South Africa

Tuition fee: On request 

Institution type: Public University 

Admission Requirements

  • Applicants applying for degree programmes must possess NSC-Deg or Senior Certificate with endorsement 

  • Applicants to undergraduate diploma programmes must possess NSC-Dip or Senior Certificate.

  • UKZN requires a pass in English(Home Language or First Additional Language) at a level 4(50% or above)

  • Applicants who have two A-levels (‘A’ – ‘E’) and three O-level passes (‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’) or equivalent, may qualify for exemption from the AEB or Cambridge examinations. However, they may also require setting subject groupings as passing the O-levels alone is not enough.

  • Applicants must pass the Life orientation programme at level 4.

  • Applicants must also meet the subject requirements and minimum level of performance in specific subjects.

Learn more about the University of Kwazulu-Natal 2024 application process


  1. University of Pretoria

University Of Pretoria

The University of Pretoria is a public research university in Pretoria, it is one of Africa's leading universities with the best degrees to study in south africa. It focuses on producing socially impactful research to solve the most pressing global issues. 

The University of Pretoria is one of the good universities in south africa which uses a student-centric approach and flexible learning options for students, equipping them with the skills and knowledge required to graduate as well-rounded, responsible citizens prepared for the world beyond University.

Location: Pretoria, South Africa

Tuition fee: On request 

Institution type: Public University 

Admission Requirements

See the full list of the 2024 admission requirements for the University of Pretoria 


Read: 25 African American Scholarships 2024.


  1. North-West University

Northwest University is one of the top ten best universities in south africa, it is a multi-campus research-led University with three campuses in Potchefstroom, Mahikeng and Vanderbijlpark in South Africa.

Location: Potchefstroom, South Africa.

In NWU, students benefit from quality education and flexibility that allows them to maximise their potential and prepare for the job market. It is among the best accounting universities in south africa. 

Tuition fee: On request 

Institution type: Public University 

Admission Requirements

  • Grade 12 results, grade 11 results or a copy of the applicant's matric certificate(if you already passed matric).

  • Applicants who are currently upgrading their grade 12 results will only be considered after the improved results are submitted to the University.

  • Applicants who follow Cambridge, GED or any other non-NSC curriculum require an exemption of certificate as issued by USAF

  • Completed Undertaking

  • Copy of academic record

  • Copy of a means of identification 

  • Copy of valid passport 

Learn More about Northwest University 2024 application process.


  1. University of Johannesburg

University Of Johannesburg

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) is a vibrant, multicultural and dynamic Public University located in the cosmopolitan city of Johannesburg. It is one of the largest contact universities in South Africa.

UJ makes one of the best engineering universities in south africa because of its diverse, inclusive, transformational and collegial institution with a student population of over 50000, of which more than 3000 are international students from 80 countries. 

Location: Johannesburg, South Africa.

Tuition fee: on request 

Institution type: Public University

Admission Requirements

  • South African applicants are required to present a South African National Senior Certificate with a degree endorsement.

  • Applicants with international high school credentials require a certificate of exemption from the Matriculation Board of South Africa to qualify for an undergraduate degree.

  • Admission of International applicants will be considered based on the University and Faculty admission requirements as stipulated in the Admission policy of the University of Johannesburg. 

  • International applicants must submit;

  • A completed online application form with supporting documents together with a non-refundable application fee of R200.00

  • Sworn English translation of documents issued in any other language other than English.

  • Present one of the following documents;

  • Valid passport or

  •  Identity Document or 

  •  Birth Certificate

Learn more about the University of Johannesburg 2024 application process.


  1. University Of  Western Cape

Established in 1959, it is a research-led, learning and best universities in south africa for medicine dedicated to upholding its legacy of Social Justice, Community Engagement and Graduate employability. 

The University of Western Cape is among the list of top 20 universities in south africa 2013. It is committed to excellence in academics and research, and to improving its distinctive role in building a dynamic and culturally diverse society.

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Tuition fee: Upon request 

Institution type: Public University 

Admission Requirements

  • Applicants must possess a National Senior Certificate (NSC) Bachelor's pass with an achievement rating of 4(50-59%).

  • Applicants must also meet the minimum number of points required for their desired programme.

  • You can also apply for exemption by following the USAf Application for Exemption Process or apply to have your Foreign Qualifications Evaluated by SAQA in the case of Postgraduate Programmes.

  • Applicants must complete an English code 4 in Home or first additional language. A code 3 in another home or first additional language.

Learn more about the University of Western cape 2024 application process.


  1. Rhodes University

Rhodes University is one of the most respected best colleges in south africa, it has a well-established reputation for academic excellence. 

Rhodes is a small university, with a student population of just over 8000. It is popular universities in south africa that offers medicine that pride of its undergraduate and postgraduate success rate and best research output per academic staff member.

Location: Grahamstown, South Africa

Tuition fee: R29,900

Institution type: Public University 

Admission Requirements

  • To qualify for bachelor's degree study in Rhodes, you must satisfy all faculty subjects and percentage requirements.

  • Prospective students must pass the minimum English language at an achievement rating of 4(50-59%) or above.

  • Applicants are required to take seven subjects to qualify with a Bachelor's pass status, four of which are compulsory(two languages, Life orientation and either Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy) and three of applicant's own choice from the recommended subject list offered at the school. With an achievement rating of 4(50-59%) or above.

  • International students applying to Rhodes University are required to present an APS score of 40 points and above, candidates who score 37-39 points will be considered for admission if there are available spaces.

Learn more about Rhodes University 2024 application process.

  1. University Of The Free state

It is a research-focused public university situated in the heart of South Africa. Established in 1904 as the Grey University College, it remains one of the oldest and most reputable public universities with the best courses to study in south africa. 

It creates an outstanding learning experience for growth in students through leading learning, research, teaching and impactful engagement in society. It also has the best business schools in South Africa.

Location: Bloemfontein, South Africa

Tuition fee:  For enquiries on tuition, Contact: +27 51 401 9111 (select option 3) or [email protected]

Institution type: Public University 

Admission Requirements

  • Applicants must have an NSC or NCV with an endorsement that qualifies them for a bachelor's degree or an equivalent qualification.

  • You must meet all the minimum admission requirements for the programme you choose to study.(however, this is not a guarantee of admission as there are limited spaces).

  • Applicants must meet the minimum English requirements for admission, a 4(50%) in English Home language or English First additional language.

  • Applicants must complete the online application process.

Learn more about the University of Free state 2024 application process.



Choosing the right school brings you a step closer to achieving your desired career. Hopefully, this compiled list of top 10 universities in South Africa will help you decide where to study.

However, it is up to you to process your admission correctly. Be thorough with your research, take your time to go through the entry requirements of whatever school you desire and be sure to contact the university if need be. 


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