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Top SA universities: how much they cost

Top SA universities: how much they cost

As thousands of students enter university for the first time, BusinessTech looks at the tuition fees and living costs at the top tertiary education institutions in South Africa for 2015.

BusinessTech looks at how much SA students at the top universities in South Africa will need to cover their chosen Bachelor’s costs for the first year of study and includes the following undergraduate degrees:

  • Bachelor of Commerce (BCom);
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA);
  • Bachelor of Science (BSc);
  • Bachelor of Law (LLB, undergraduate);
  • Bachelor of Science/Engineering (BEng).

It should be noted that university fees are determined by the modules taken to complete the respective courses, not as a complete degree.

The fees listed below give a range in which various bachelor degrees in the respective faculties fall. The fees are applicable to first year studies for 2015.

For institutions where no Bachelor of Engineering is offered, a Bachelor of Science in Engineering is featured.

University BA BCom BSc LLB BEng
University of Cape Town R43,500 – R59,000 R50,000 – R62,500 R51,000 – R64,500 R46,500 – R52,000 R51,500 – R53,000
University of the Witwatersrand R33,640 – R43,320 R42,010 – R43,320 R41,080 – R58,580 R32,470 R40,170 – R48,150
Stellenbosch University R32,534 R33,164 – R46,338 R37,880 – R40,749 R39,606 R45,070
University of KwaZulu Natal R38,160 – R46,700 R39,170 R30,940 – R39,600 R36,500 R39,150 – R40,000
University of Pretoria R25,710 – R36,270 R34,720 – R39,610 R36,880 – R54,620 R31,800 R35,530 – R43,670
Rhodes University R37,200 R40,700 R38,700 – R40,700 R41,730 n/a
University of Johannesburg R29,170 – R35,970 R29,140 – R37,000 R30,600 – R50,940 R29,460 – R33,840 R34,500 – R42,600
North-West University R28,140 – R49,200 R38,600 – R41,050 R38,400 – R44,650 R36,500 R43,900


Universities also offer various housing and accommodation for students.

The University of Cape Town’s mountain views come at the greatest cost to students looking for accommodation, with a single residence (self-catering) costing R50,100 per student per year, with double rooms coming in at R35,800 per student per year.

On the opposite end of the scale, North-West University’s residences are less than half that, at R18,280 for a single room residence, and R17,630 for a double room sharing residence.

Wits res students can expect to pay R30,192 for single and R27,232 for double sharing accommodation – the second highest fees.

Stellenbosch students will pay approximately R35,000 (for girls) and R36,000 (for boys) and R29,000 – R30,000 for single and double residences, respectively.

More government-sponsored students

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced on Monday (12 January 2015) that the government has increased funding to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to cater for poor and disabled students.

The NSFAS will be funding 205,000 first-time entering and continuing eligible students at universities and 200,000 students at technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges in 2015, the minister said.

The government scheme would provide loans and bursaries totalling R9.5 billion.

More on education

Government to fund 205,000 university students

UCT rated best university in South Africa

SA’s ‘real’ matric pass rate: 42%

BusinessTech's Staff Writer is directly plugged into the South African Internet backbone, and spits out press releases and other news as they receive it. They are believed to be cl...
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  • CharlieTango

    We really do need more technikons and trade schools that are affordable and well-run.

    • Belter

      Agreed. This country badly needs the option of a proper early school-leaving apprentice system as in Europe. An academically Inferior matric only serves to dumb-down our nation and does not address unemployment. Instead of corruption and wasteful expenditure, government should be subsidising business to provide on the job training for apprentices.

  • Debugger

    How come a Bachelor of Technology does not appear on the list? Most “people” don’t consider it to be a real degree but it is a degree.

    • Joe


    • Belatu

      Bachelor of Technology would fall under a Bsc since it is considered a science.

    • Mike_cpt

      Why would anybody not consider it a degree? It is a degree, and that’s not debatable.

      • Jo

        Agreed. However, when it comes to jobs and salaries and responsibilities. There is little or no difference between university and tech graduates with private companies. But with both provincial and national government, and parastatals, especially at public works departments, those with university degrees seem to have a double halo with blue eyes, and therefore get better salaries, better benefits, quicker promotions.

        • Cleo

          No Salary difference at small private or not so big private companies but at giant companies like sasol, Mining companies you the house hold names there is because they have a very clear structured salary levels based on qualification B tech is NQF level 7, B Eng or BSc Eng degree is NQF level 8

    • Dawid

      It is a degree, however it seems the article was more focused on traditional university degrees and not specialist ones. All the universities listed don’t offer a BTech degree, so a price comparison across those universities wouldn’t be possible if it was included.

  • Not too bad given that by 4 year old’s kindergarten will cost me R30 000 this year (It does include lunch though).

    • Ben

      Just curious…do you believe you are getting the value for your money paying R30k per year for kindergarten?

  • Fezot

    Where is Unisa on the list? It is also a popular institution.

    • Belatu

      The Article is about the Top Uni’s not the Popular ones.

      • Craig M

        lol what an answer….hahahaaaaaa i like this

    • Mike_cpt

      They say “top universities”, but I don’t know on what basis.

      • Belatu

        University of Cape Town and Wits is ranked in the top 300 Universities in the world, Stellenbosch and University of KZN are ranked in the Top 500, Unisa does not make it into the top 1000

        • David

          But the reason behind it is bad feedback, bad service ect. Not really a bad degree @ all…

    • Alex

      I would have loved to see how UNISA prices stack up to this. I find their courses of low quality with very little real assistance from lecturers. So would be interesting to see how their fees stack up with real universities where the lecturers give class and assist students in learning.

  • Guest

    What about Durban University Of Technology (previously NatalML Sultan Tech)?? It’s also a University as the name suggests and is more prevalent as a technical tertiary institution than most of the above. Seems this article adopts an old school ‘Technikon diplomadegrees’ are menial, mindset.

    • Dawid

      The article says Top SA Universities, not all SA universities.

      • Guest

        Yes I get that but this is an I.T site and it’s relevant to have the Technology institutions as priority.

        • Maestro

          What you are referring to is the Old Technikon, DUT is no longer regarded or classified as a Technology institution after it’s merger. It offers a variety of courses that fall outside it’s initial Technology focus of the past.

          • Guest

            The merger was between Natal Technikon and ML Sultan Technikon which became DUT, about 11 years ago.

        • Livelife

          Dude, all universities are offering IT. Many of them at much higher levels than DUT. DUT is not in the top 100 of universities (in africa). So let it go.

    • Jo

      No one talks about UT’s! Ever heard any student saying he’s at a UT? And everyone discriminates between Tech and Uni. It’s just another social status issue! Check how fun is made of some UT’s. Pta has a TUT(ankamen) or a TUTu, and Cape Town has a Kaput/CPUT! Even Professional organisations such as ECSA will label a UT graduate a Technologist, not an Engineer.

  • deathgrind

    Plus all the booze, drugs ant anti pregnancy crap the dumb students need.

    • Elena Genuos

      My children are expected to get a part-time job and pay for their own drugs.

  • Maestro

    Yes these fees are regarded as expensive, but compared to some High Schools of today, this actually looks like a discount…

    • Alex

      my kid is in a normal high school and fees are over R24000 per year (excluding uniforms, books, extra-murial, …)

  • Hein Pienaar

    My brother does a EE (BEng) degree at TUKS and I’m doing a CS (BSc) degree at Unisa and most of my books are the same they use at Tuks. He has more electronic modules where I have more IT modules. From experience I really like Unisa so far.

    • Hein Pienaar

      To go up to Honors (4 years) with my degree will cost me total under R50 000. Gives me room financially to also fit in an MBA.

  • jayceevanrooyen

    Amazing how things have changed. In the 1960’s the annual tuition fee for a first year BA was about the same as the monthly starting salary for such a graduate in a government service. Which means that a BA graduate today should start with a monthly salary of more or less R30 000 per month! Things don’t add up nicely but then this comparison doesn’t take all factors into account.

  • Mohamed Imtiyaz

    Lol thankfully I’m with Unisa so I do save quite a bit. Lol in practice they also a top uni.

  • Sizwe Khumalo

    Correction on the UCT part. There’s no sharing room for self-catering in any of the residences. All UCT residences, except post-grad level, cost R35 000 for both catering and non-catering, meal options come at separate prices. PLEASE REVIEW YOUR ARTICLE.

  • ryan
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