Cape Town University Guide

Cape Town University | 20 November 2019 | ExpatCapeTown

Cape Town university degrees are recognized internationally for their academic excellence and research. In South Africa, there are currently 26 public universities catering for over one million students, of them 400,000 are registered with Unisa, the South African distance learning institution with the largest number of registered students.

University education is not free in South Africa, and international students have to pay about double the annual fees as locals. 

UCT - Cape Town University at the foot of Table Mountain

Universities in Cape Town

Of the 26 public universities in South Africa, four are located in the Western Province, again of these three in Cape Town and one in nearby Stellenbosch. There are also several private colleges and community colleges, distance learning facilities and MBA programs offered in and around Cape Town as well, but the following varsities we list here are the four primary institutions for higher education. The four universities in the Western Cape are actually ranked among the top ten South African universities. They are not only popular with local students but also account for the biggest numbers of international students who come to South Africa for further studies, academic exchanges and participation in postdoctoral and research programmes. University registration takes place annually from September to November. The academic year start mid of January and ends in November.

University of Cape Town 

The University of Cape Town (UCT) was founded in 1829 and is therefore the oldest institution for higher education in South Africa. It is also currently ranked at first place of the South African universities in the Times Higher Education rankings of universities worldwide. More than 23,500 students are registered at UCT for the various study programmes. Website 

There are six faculties in the UCT which are located on four campuses around Cape Town. While the main Cape Town university campus is situated in Rondebosch on Rhodes Estate, there is another campus in nearby Observatory (Health Sciences), another one campus in Gardens (Fine Art, Film, Media and Drama Studies) and a forth campus at the Waterfront (Graduate School of Business). With more than 4,300 international students coming from more than 100 countries. 

Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University is one of the most prestigious universities in South Africa. This university is well known for its high quality postgraduate study programs and there are more than 30,000 students registered at the various campuses. The uni offers various study and summer programs also for international students. Website 

The Stellenbosch University (SU) houses ten faculties of which two are located off the main campus in Stellenbosch. These off campus facilities include the Health Science Faculty which is housed at the Tygerberg Campus and the Business School which is located at Bellville Park. The University is predominantly Afrikaans speaking, however instruction is in English and Afrikaans.

University of the Western Cape

The University of the Western Cape is the largest university for technology in Africa. It is also the second largest university in Cape Town with more than 22,000 students. The main campus houses six faculties and is located near the main train station and in the District Six while another campus is located in Bellville. Website 

Cape Peninsula University of Technology

The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) is the fourth university catering for the students from all over the Western Province. This university in Cape Town has got seven faculties and offers higher education courses for more than 18,000 students, most of whom come from the poorer and rural areas around the province. Website

More Cape Town Universities and Private Colleges

Higher Education at UNISA

The University of South Africa (UNISA) is one of the largest open distance learning universities in the world. It actually was the first of its kind worldwide. This is South Africa's largest university in student numbers. Every year about 35,000 students earn a degree from UNISA, of these almost one third are master's and doctoral degrees. Website.

Cape Town University Studies: What international students should know...

  • There are international student offices at all South African universities and colleges that will be able to provide advice on education and study programmes and entrance requirements. Places at student residences are limited and may be subject to specific entry requirements but the international offices will be able to advice new students.
  • International students need to possess a valid study visa for taking up studies at any school, college or university in South Africa. Study visa are only valid for the specific study programme and a change of institution will require a new study visa. Also be aware that should you leave and withdraw from your university studies your visa will become invalid. Educational institutions have to notify the Department of Home Affairs of respective student enrolments and withdrawals.
  • Foreign students who are in possession of a study visa are allowed to work part-time up to 20 hours as part of practical training.

References for our Cape Town University Guide

  • "The 8 Best Universities in South Africa." BusinessTech. 15 August 2019. Accessed 20 November 2019
  • "Study SA Guides". IEASA, the International Education Association of South Africa. Accessed 20 November 2019

For more info on Cape Town Universities & Education, read on here:

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