South Africa Study Visa Procedures

The inbound mobility in South Africa is quite massive, as of 2014, South Africa was the fourth most popular destination for internationally mobile degree seekers from across Africa, behind France, the U.S., and the U.K.

The largest sender by far is Zimbabwe, which, per UIS, sent a reported 10,602 degree-seeking students to South Africa in 2014. Other top countries of origin include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, Lesotho, Nigeria, and Swaziland, each of which accounted for more than 2,000 enrollments in 2014.  The low cost and relatively high quality of these institutions is likely one factor. The only non-African country of origin among the top ten senders is the United States. According to IIE’s Open doors report for 2015/16, South Africa was the eleventh leading destination for U.S. study abroad participants. That year, some 5,337 American students studied on South African campuses, 17.6 per cent more than the previous year. With these statistics, one might want to ask for this urgent move into South Africa for education, studies have shown that most immigrants travelled into the country, because of it’s the quality education system. Hence, this piece shall take a look into South Africa’s Education growth so far.

South Africa Study Visa Procedures


Looking deeply into the inbound mobility of this, wesr.wes.org showed a 2014 survey ” about 1,700 South African-enrolled students from countries in  Southern African Development Community represents one of the few research efforts to examine, in-depth, the reasons that tertiary-level students from other African countries come to South Africa. Survey responses and follow up interviews indicated that top draws were affordability, proximity, ease of visa approval, “the reputation of the South African higher education system, the ‘currency’ of South African qualifications [in terms of job prospects back home], flexible admission policies, the lack of the preferred course in the home country, a stable and peaceful academic environment, and diversification of the academic experience.”

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South Africa’s education system is split into three levels: elementary, secondary and tertiary.  Prior to 2009, the National Department of Education was responsible for higher education as well as elementary and secondary education. Since then, oversight has been split to enable greater focus on radically different educational systems and to increase the government’s focus on post-secondary education. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) now oversees elementary and secondary education. The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) oversees post-secondary-level education, including both academic institutions and post-secondary technical training.


The South African government has devoted substantial resources to education in recent years. In 2013, it spent 19.7 per cent of its total budget on education, a relatively high figure by international standards, and one that represents about 6 per cent of the country’s GDP (2014). The lion’s share of the national education budget is allotted to the elementary and secondary school systems, which are administered by the provincial governments. In 2013/14, 57.7 per cent of funds were devoted to elementary and secondary schooling, although this percentage is expected to drop in favour of increased spending on post-secondary education in the coming years.

Again, South Africa’s estimated 26,000 schools and 425,000 educators are overseen by the Department of Basic Education. District and provincial DBE offices in nine provinces and 86 districts administer these schools and have considerable influence over the implementation of the policy. The DBE’s provincial offices work through local district-level offices to administer elementary and secondary schools. As of 2016/17, the DBE reported that it was working closely with provincial education departments (PEDs) “to assess management at the classroom, school, district, and provincial levels to heighten accountability at all levels of the system.” For the duration of the effort, which is slated to continue through 2020, the DBE seeks to “strengthen [the] capacity to monitor and support provincial departments, especially in PEDs that performed poorly in the 2015 [National Senior Certificate examination] to ensure that learning outcomes are improved.”

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Elementary and secondary schools in South Africa are most often public and account for the bulk of enrollments. In 2012, for instance, 4.64 million pupils were enrolled in public secondary schools compared to only 292,331 at private schools, as per data provided by the UIS. However, independent private schools exist in South Africa have recently gained some traction as an alternative to struggling public schools. “Low-fee” independent schools cater to lower-income households and are eligible for government subsidies. Although still low by comparison to the public system, enrollments in these and other private schools have risen substantially in recent years.

The South African government efforts have been encouraging so far as, In 2019, the report showed that education and culture received the largest share of the budget, with an R262.4bn allocation. The country’s education system receives funding which is about 20% of the national budget and 6% of GDP, exceeding that of many sub-Saharan African countries, but they achieve far better educational outcomes than South Africa does. Other bodies are also participating in the country’s growth as companies such as Curro, ADvTECH, Educor, Spark, Pembury and Stadio continue to grow to accommodate the growing need for private education, particular as education continues to remain in crisis and as parents opt for a safe environment, individual attention and quality of learning. At the higher education level, private institutions are providing courses that are relevant and matching skills to the requirements of the industry.

Again, In 2019 the government allocated about R30bn for building new schools and maintaining existing infrastructure. There are also plans to introduce technology-focused subjects to the curriculum, such as coding and data analytics, at a primary school level. Coding as a subject will be piloted at 1,000 schools across five provinces starting in 2020. In April 2019, the Department of Basic Education said it had trained 43,774 teachers in computer skills and would begin training teachers for the new coding curriculums from June to September 2019.

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Now today, the ultimate aim of the South African government is to meet the overarching plan for the basic education sector, encapsulates the long-term vision of education priorities, targets and programmes articulated for the sector in the National Development Plan (NDP). The department continues to focus on: accelerating delivery and improving school infrastructure; enhancing teaching and learning by ensuring access to the high-quality learner and teacher support materials; providing educational opportunities to learners with severe to profound intellectual disabilities; increasing the supply of quality teachers; monitoring performance, and providing nutritious meals to learners in schools through the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP).

Wherefore, the percentage of individuals aged 20 years and older who did not have any education decreased from 11,4% in 2002 to 4,5% in 2018, while those with at least a grade 12 qualification increased from 30,5% to 45,2% over the same period. Also, Inter-generational functional literacy has also decreased markedly. While 57,8% of South Africans over the age of 60 years did not at least complete a Grade 7 qualification, this figure dropped to only 4,4% for those aged 20 to 39 years of age. Less than six per cent (5,5%) of adults over the age of 20 years were considered illiterate. The government has thus continued to focus on creating a transformed education sector that is of high quality, is demographically representative, and provides students and staff with opportunities through the implementation of the university capacity development programme.


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