Top 10 South Africa’s Lowest-Cost Universities

As is customary, the criteria used to select these universities are not limited to low tuition. These tertiary institutions listed here also provide quality education, and some of them have made a name for themselves through outstanding academic achievements, learnallpro reports.

Stick around if you want to enroll in an affordable South African university while still receiving quality education at its best.



READ ALSO: Ranking of African countries with the best education systems


1. RHODES UNIVERSITY: RHODES University is one of South Africa’s oldest universities. It was founded in 1904 with funds from the Rhodes Trust and named after a woman named Cecil Rhodes. It was known as Rhodes University College at the time. From 1918 to 1951, it was a component college of the University of South Africa before becoming a self-contained university.



Rhodes University is a public university in Grahamstown. It provides undergraduate and postgraduate programs in fields such as education, law, pharmacy, science, and humanities.

The tuition fee for undergraduate students ranges between 27,000 and 31,000 Rand. The tuition fee for foreign students wishing to study at the University ranges between 36,000 and 38,000 Rand.



2. UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN: Since its inception in 1829, the University of Cape Town has come a long way. It not only has a low tuition fee, but it is also South Africa’s oldest university.


It began as the South African College, then evolved into a standard secondary school for boys. It was not until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that it was elevated to the status of a university. This was made possible by increased mining activity in the area, which hastened the flow of funds to the University. With these funds, much-needed development was completed, allowing it to qualify for tertiary institution status.

Engineering, Architecture, Accounting, Medicine, Health Sciences, Economics, Historical Studies, Religious Studies, Law, Archeology, Linguistics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Oceanography, and other fields of study are available.

Tuition fees for undergraduate and postgraduate students are estimated to be 22,000 Rand and 60,000 – 64,000 Rand, respectively. Tuition fees for international students are 75,000 Rand. This university is also ranked No. 120 on the list of the best universities in the world.

3. NELSON MANDELA METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY: Nelson Mandela University, located in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, is one of the country’s higher education institutions with low tuition.

The history of the University is long and somewhat complicated. The institution’s origins can be traced back to 1882, when Port Elizabeth Art School was established. In the year 2005, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University was formed through the merger of two institutions: the University of Port Elizabeth and the Port Elizabeth Technikon. In 2017, it was renamed Nelson Mandela University, its current name.

It has attracted a large number of foreign students from various countries, including other African countries, Belgium, France, China, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Sweden.


Nelson Mandela University has distinguished itself as an institution that offers advanced study techniques and options while also welcoming new ideas in terms of creativity, innovation, and technology. It encourages students to confront problems head on, tackle them, and find long-term and beneficial solutions.

Nelson Madela University provides undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Tuition for undergraduate courses is approximately 94,000 Rand, while tuition for postgraduate courses ranges between 18,000 and 20,000 Rand.

The University offers courses in Economics, Law, Psychology, Architecture, Accounting, Languages, Medical Sciences, and Computer Science, as well as managing the Nelson Mandela Business School.


4. UNIVERSITY OF FREE STATE: The University of Free State was established in 1904 and is located in Bloemfontein, South Africa. In 1950, it was elevated to the status of university and given the name ‘University of Orange Free State.’ The current name was given to the company in 2001.

They provide high-quality education at reasonable prices. They also have favorable policies for international students, though the fees for indigenous students differ from those for international students. Tuition fees for indigenous undergraduate students are approximately 17,000 Rand, while tuition fees for international students are approximately 20,000 Rand.

Humanities, Law, Education, Sciences, and other courses are available at the University.

5. UNIVERSITY OF FORT HARE: The University of Fort Hare was once a victim of apartheid policies. However, it later evolved into a tool for higher education for Africans, adopting Western learning styles and policies commonly used in the education of the majority of Sub-Saharan Africa. It has educated and produced many reputable men and women of the society since 1916, when apartheid’s hold on it was lifted.


Tuition fees for indigenous students at this university differ from those for international students. Indigenous students pay between 19,000 and 45,000 Rand, while international students pay between 26,000 and 45,000 Rand. Postgraduate students, on the other hand, must pay tuition fees ranging from 12,500 to 22,000 Rand.

6. CAPE PENINSULA UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY: The Cape Peninsula University of Technology was formed through the merger of two institutions, the Peninsula Technikon and the Cape Technikon. This resulted in the establishment of the University in 2005. It is the largest university in Western Capetown, with over seventy course offerings.


7. UNIVERSITY OF KWAZULU NATAL: The University of Kwazulu Natal was founded in 2004 and consists of four tertiary colleges and five campuses. Pietermaritzburg, Pinetown, Kwazulu Natal, Durban, and Westville are among the campuses.

It arose from the union of two universities, the University of Natal and the University of Durban. It provides a high-quality education while keeping tuition costs low. They pay between 24,000 and 54,000 Rand for undergraduate studies. Tuition fees for postgraduate programs, including Master’s and Doctorate degree programs, range from 31,000 to 45,000 Rand.

They provide a diverse range of courses in both the sciences and the arts.

8. UNIVERSITY OF STELLENBOSCH: The University of Stellenbosch is not just a low-cost institution; it is also one of South Africa’s major universities. Along with its reputation for academic excellence, it is also a research institution, particularly for its tuberculosis research. If you want to specialize in Medical Research, this university is a great choice. They also provide arts courses such as theology and African studies.

Stellenbosch University also welcomes many international students, having enrolled over 30,000 students from over a hundred different countries. Tuition fees for students begin around 44,000 Rand.

9. UNIVERSITY OF THE WESTERN CAPE (UWC): With tuition fees ranging from USD 1,750 to USD 5,400 per year, UWC makes our list of South Africa’s cheapest institutions. The University of the Western Cape (UWC) was founded in 1959 and is now regarded as one of South Africa’s premier institutions, ranking among the top 1000 in the QS World University Ranking.


The United World College is well-known for its pivotal role in the anti-apartheid movement. Its campaign for equal rights is still ongoing today, with its Children Rights Project serving as an example. Community and health sciences, economic and managerial sciences, natural sciences, arts, dentistry, law, and education are the seven faculties. Every year, approximately 22,000 applications are received by UWC.

Every academic year, students from Africa and the SADC pay local fees ranging from R 30,140 (approximately USD 1,750) to R 58,180 (approximately USD 3,400). International students from other countries will pay between USD 3,800 and USD 5,400 for the academic year.

10. NORTH WEST UNIVERSITY: North West University is one of South Africa’s most seasoned institutions of higher learning, owing to the South African government’s efforts to improve the quality of learning in the country. It is also the most populous, with approximately 64,000 students enrolled. It has three campuses, which are as follows:

Potchefstroom, Mahikeng, and Vanderbijlpark are the three main university campuses.

Tuition fees range from 31,000 to 47, 000 Rand.

They provide a variety of Medical Sciences, Engineering, Business, and other programs.


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