Tuition expenses have remained one of the biggest hurdles for many high school leavers looking to further their education in South Africa.
If you are looking for a free university in South Africa where you won’t have to worry about paying tuition fees, you will realize that almost none of the higher institutions in SA that offer free education publicly present themselves as a tuition-free university, especially for overseas students.
This explains why many students currently studying for free in south Africa are either on a scholarship program or their tuition expenses are covered by a particular grant.
In many schools, only SA citizens are eligible for free education while international students would look for scholarship opportunities.
We have researched and reviewed some of the best universities in South Africa where both local and international students stand a fair chance of studying without worrying about tuition.
So if you are looking for free education in SA, consider applying to any of the below-listed universities:
List of the best free universities in South Africa
It is important to mention here that while we’ve reviewed these universities as the best for free education in SA, they do have their tuition price points.
We have ranked them as the best for free education because they provide some of the best inclusive scholarship programs, grants, and financial aid for local students.
Also, international students have a fair chance of grabbing free education opportunities in these universities via private organizations.
So, in no particular order, here:
- Rhodes University
- University of KwaZulu-Natal
- University of Zululand
- Mangosuthu University of Technology
- Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
- University of Free State
- University of Fort Hare
- Rhodes University Admission Requirements page
- Rhodes University Free Tuition and scholarship opportunities
Rhodes University is a public university in South Africa and has remained one of the country’s prestigious higher education institutions.
It is located in Grahamstown and is an excellent choice for applicants pursuing undergraduate and postgraduate programs in Education, Law, Pharmacy, Sciences, and Humanities.
Apart from being among the few oldest Universities in South Africa, the university has grown from being Rhodes University College to become one of the best institutions to be in as a student in SA.
Education at Rhodes University comes with a tuition expense of 27,000 to 31,000 Rand for undergraduate programs while overseas students pay 36,000 and 38,000 Rand.
But the university is a solid pick if you want free education because they offer a variety of scholarship and waiver programs that allow students to study for free without paying any of those fees.
University of KwaZulu-Natal
- University of KwaZulu-Natal Admission requirements page
- The University of KwaZulu-Natal free tuition and scholarship opportunities
The cost of gaining a master’s degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal ranges from as low as zero Rand to as high as 291,130 Rand annually.
In other words, it is possible to study here for free whether as a domestic or international student. But SA citizens pay lower fees no matter the program.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal is prominent for its innovative research and breakthrough discoveries. They also concern themselves with promoting mutual respect and inclusivity within the academy.
It is one of the Universities that should be on your streamlined list if you are looking to study for free in South Africa.
University of Zululand
- University of Zululand Admission requirements page
- The University of Zululand free tuition and scholarship opportunities
Another fantastic option you can consider for free education in South Africa is the University of Zululand.
Although the university requires 7,173 Rand as Master’s Tuition for both international and domestic students, it still offers some free education opportunities through scholarships and grants.
The best part of this university is that students finish their Master’s degree without putting a strain on their pocket (or parent’s pocket)
Apart from the incredibly affordable tuition rate, applicants also stand a fair chance of studying for free if they are eligible for the scholarship and free education opportunities readily available.
Another important factor that seems to be pulling more and more students into this university every academic year is the school’s strategic partnerships with businesses and companies.
With this, students get the necessary practical skills and connections to be successful in their careers.
The feedback we got about the school’s multiple extracurricular activities and facilities for different sports hints that it’s a good choice for applicants with a taste for the vibrant school environment.
Mangosuthu University of Technology
- Mangosuthu University of Technology Admission requirements page
- The Mangosuthu University of Technology free tuition and scholarship opportunities
Incoming international master’s students are required to pay between 9,060 Rand and 30,700 Rand as tuition at the Mangosuthu University of Technology.
While this cheap tuition rate can allow you to get a quality education without financial strain, there are also opportunities to study here for free.
The IT-oriented institution is focused on offering fair and inclusive education. It prides itself on a technological and career-oriented university.
Here, students get to choose among the various innovative solutions on programs and it is a popular university in South Africa.
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
- Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Admission requirements page
- Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University free tuition and scholarship opportunities
We were able to identify students currently studying at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, hailing from different countries including Belgium, France, China, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Sweden, and other African states.
This is a powerful indication that the university is an excellent choice for international students.
But the real deal is the affordability of education at this center of excellence.
The tuition fee for undergraduate courses is about 94,000 Rand, while students under the postgraduate courses pay between 18,000 and 20,000 Rand.
Despite these, there are free education opportunities for local students at the University, allowing them to get a quality education without worrying about tuition.
Meanwhile, Nelson Mandela University offers a wide range, of courses, such as Economics, Law, Psychology, Architecture, Accounting, Languages, Medical Sciences, and Computer Science.
The university is located in Port Elizabeth and is considered one of the top-ranked institutions in SA with incredibly low tuition fees.
University of Free State
- University of Free State Admission requirements page
- The University of Free State free tuition and scholarship opportunities
Many students who enroll in the University of Free State in South Africa are either studying Humanities, Law, Education, or Sciences. While there are other courses, this shows that the university is a solid pick for students interested in the aforementioned courses.
Located in Bloemfontein, the university has been operating since 1904 and is known for its quality education offered at affordable rates.
Although the School requires international undergraduates to pay about 20,00 Rand for tuition while indigenous undergraduates pay 17,000 Rand, there is still the opportunity for free education presented to all enrollees and strictly based on eligibility and performance.
University of Fort Hare
- University of Fort Hare Admission requirements page
- The University of Fort Hare free tuition and scholarship opportunities
The University of Fort Hare has a rich history and played a pivotal role in the apartheid policies era.
The university is today, known for its repute in schooling many alumni who have gone on to become prominent figures in the global landscape.
There is a tuition fee attached to the quality education offered in this prestigious university and it varies depending on the nationality of the students.
As an indigenous undergraduate student, you pay between 19,000 and 45,000 Rand while overseas students pay between 26,000 – 45,000 Rand.
Despite the presence of these tuition prince points students still come to this university without worrying about education costs because they have been covered by scholarships or financial aid offered by the school.
South Africa is home to 39 different universities and colleges.
So if you are planning to study in this African country, there are options for you to choose from, depending on your field and location preference.
However, when it comes down to cheap or free tuition, the options become narrower, especially for an international student.
The objective of this article is to save you the stress of checking one University’s official website to another other to confirm if they offer scholarship/financial aid that allows you to study your program for free.
The above-listed universities are where you should consider enrolling for free education in South Africa.