How much it costs to study at South Africa’s top universities

 ·17 Jul 2022

South African universities could see a significant change in tuition costs with the department of higher education planning to create a new student funding model.

Higher education, science and innovation minister Blade Nzimande said that the government has committed to and is working on a comprehensive student funding model for universities and colleges.

The new model is planned to account for students in the ‘missing middle’ income bracket and post-graduate students who cannot secure funding.

Earlier this year, the minister announced a CPI-linked increase in tuition fees for 2022, noting that the sector relies heavily on tuition and residence fee income from universities to remain operational.

On average, the first year of a degree in South Africa costs approximately R62,000.

BusinessTech looked at how much it costs to study a variety of degrees at some of South Africa’s top universities.

The following undergraduate degrees were assessed:

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

Fees are typically charged per module needed to make up the credits of a given degree; thus, the fees represented below give a broader idea of the cost of a single year of study rather than a comprehensive overview.

University name BA BCom BSc LLB BEng
University of Cape Town R64 880 – R91 040 R69 120 – R88 910 R68 940 – R79 540 R66 010 R73 140 – R75 480
University of Witwatersrand Johannesburg R45 252 – R59 600 R50 120 – R56 510 R55 990 – R78 820 R44 150 R53,710 – R60,960
University of KwaZulu Natal R46 618 R45 891 – R48 547 R39 957 – R44 626 R41 907 R38 850 – R49 538
Stellenbosch University R47 626 R49 739 R58 901 R56 169 R67 561
University of Pretoria R41 000 – R50 000 R46 000 – R51 000 R43 000 – R65 000 R45 000 – R54 000 R51 000 – R61 000
University of Johannesburg R41 117 – R50 874 R23 050 – R51 851 R43 121 – R71 947 R41 661 – R47 837 R48 689 – R86 347
North-West University R47 680 R63 850 R56 530 – R70 560 R48 220 R64 030
University of the Free State R40 815 R43 310 R49 082 R32 770 not offered
Average R50 090 R66 110 R56 499 R49 390 R62 598

Note: All fees were gathered from the latest yearbooks available to the public. The fees listed below give a range in which various bachelor’s degrees in the respective faculties fall. The fees are applicable to first-year studies for 2022. If a BA General was not offered, a BA Humanities was taken into account. 

Residence fees

South Africa’s universities also offer different residence options, both on and off campus – self-catering and with food options.

Prices for residences vary depending on location, size (single or double) and gender (men and women have different fees).

Below are the price ranges students can expect at the various universities:

Note: All residence fees exclude meal fees; only accommodation is accounted for.

University name Annual price university university
University of Pretoria R52 600 – R84 000
University of the Western Cape R22 490 – R42 980
Stellenbosch University R35 930 – R64 170
University of KwaZulu Natal ~R35 690
University of Cape Town R60 960 – R79 020
University of Witswatersrand R 48 675 – R102 306

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