7 Affordable Universities in South Africa 2024-2025

There are many important factors when searching for the right university to attend, and cost can be a huge deciding factor for some. Attending university can become very expensive, and many are stuck paying off tuition for most of their lives.

If you or someone you know is considering attending a university in South Africa and are not a native, I have compiled a list of some of the most affordable universities in South Africa for international students! South Africa has many well-accredited options for all areas of concentration and the tuition rates are fairly low for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

These price ranges do not include the cost of living, food, or other fees, strictly tuition costs.

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Cheap Universities in South Africa

1. North-West University

For the second year in a row, North-West University is ranked among the top 6 local universities in South Africa! They occupy three campuses, offer eight faculties, and even distance learning. The student body is highly diverse with students from all over the world and is continuously growing. North-West University may be one of the cheapest options, but the curriculum proves otherwise.

International undergraduate students can expect to pay as little as R30 000 – R45 000 each year for tuition and postgraduate students could pay around R20 000 – R25 000 per year. These costs makes North-West University one of the cheapest universities in South Africa for international students!

2. University of Venda

The University of Venda, also known as Univen, takes pride in its goal of “Creating Future Leaders,” as the motto reflects. This affordable university in South Africa offers top knowledge in its faculties of science, engineering, and agriculture; management, commerce, and law; and health sciences.

The annual cost for international undergraduate students is between R15 227-R58 786, depending on the course of study, and between R26 560-R35 413 per year for any postgraduate degree.

3. University of Forte Hare

The University of Forte Hare is known for being the leading institute of Agricultural Sciences in South Africa! It has three different campuses and six faculties to choose from including education, law, health sciences, and more. UFH takes great efforts in creating an inclusive environment for international students and providing the best sources for academic excellence.

An initial payment of R4 000 is required from all students before beginning classes, this is a separate fee from tuition. The undergraduate program cost is between R26 000 – R44 374 per year and postgraduates can find themselves paying an average of R27 000 per year. To pursue a master’s degree, the annual cost is around R20 000 and around R18 000 for a doctor’s degree.

4. University of the Free State

The University of the Free State is ranked 9th out of all Universities in South Africa! This affordable university in South Africa is best known for its studies in Education, Health Sciences, Humanities, Law, Natural and Agricultural Sciences, and Theology across three campuses. It is a research-led University that aims to contribute toward the equality and evolution of the world through its graduates.

The cost for international undergraduate students is an average of R58 053 per year. If a student wants to pursue a postgraduate degree, they could be looking to pay an estimate of R20 000 per year for a master’s degree and about R15 00 for a doctor’s degree.

5. University of Cape Town

Located in one of South Africa’s largest cities, The University of Cape Town is home to a community of over 28,000 students! The university is popular for its Commerce, Law, and Medicine faculty that has been continuously ranked in the top 100 faculties in the world. Fun Fact: UCT has been around since 1829, making it the oldest higher education facility in all of South Africa!

Such a prestigious university is surprisingly affordable for most. The yearly tuition rate for undergraduate students is an average of R85 000 and between R24 000 – R66 000 for any postgraduate degrees.

6. Rhodes University

Rhodes University is a smaller university with just over 8,000 students. Its faculty helps produce some of the best success rates in South Africa due to the low student-to-teacher ratio. For students interested in studying pharmacy, science, law, commerce, education, or humanities, this could be a great option. Its mission is to provide the best support and mentorship for students to become great leaders.

At this affordable South African university, the average tuition cost for an international undergraduate student is around R50 000 per academic year plus some initial fees that average at R43 000. For masters’ students, the yearly average cost is R25 000 and about R22 000 for doctorate students.

7. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

This University was indeed named after the legendary Nelson Mandela! Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University is a highly diverse school that focuses heavily on innovation and integrity. This cheap university in South Africa offers seven different faculties from education to health sciences and engineering.

Before beginning any course, incoming students can expect to pay an international fee of R70 290. Based on the desired undergraduate degree, tuition can cost anywhere from R30 564 – R56 614 annually. As for postgraduate students looking to earn their master’s degree, there is an initial fee of R84 744, and prices range anywhere from R24 100- R60 00 per year. Doctor’s degree students will also pay the initial fee of R84 744 and about R21 000 yearly.


Most universities offer an online quoting service that can calculate a more accurate estimate based on a desired degree path. Things like books, residence, application fees, and other miscellaneous expenses should be considered also. Tuition rates are subject to change every year, so make sure any research is up to date!

Universities in South Africa are quite affordable compared to other regions in the world but are some of the top-ranked schools and are worth looking further into. Attending university is a big investment of time and money, so choosing one that fits within certain lifestyles and budgets is crucial. Most universities have an International Affairs Office that can help with any other questions or concerns. Hopefully, this can help narrow down university options in terms of price checking and give a better perspective of what to expect. Good luck on this journey to finding the perfect university!

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