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 nameBABComBScLLBBEng
University of Cape TownR64 880 – R91 040R69 120 – R88 910R68 940 – R79 540R66 010R73 140 – R75 480
University of Witwatersrand JohannesburgR45 252 – R59 600R50 120 – R56 510R55 990 – R78 820R44 150R53,710 – R60,960
University of KwaZulu NatalR46 618R45 891 – R48 547R39 957 – R44 626R41 907R38 850 – R49 538
Stellenbosch UniversityR47 626R49 739R58 901R56 169R67 561
University of PretoriaR41 000 – R50 000R46 000 – R51 000R43 000 – R65 000R45 000 – R54 000R51 000 – R61 000
University of JohannesburgR41 117 – R50 874R23 050 – R51 851R43 121 – R71 947R41 661 – R47 837R48 689 – R86 347
North-West UniversityR47 680R63 850R56 530 – R70 560R48 220R64 030
University of the Free StateR40 815R43 310R49 082R32 770not offered
AverageR50 090R66 110R56 499R49 390R62 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 nameAnnual price university university
University of PretoriaR52 600 – R84 000
University of the Western CapeR22 490 – R42 980
Stellenbosch UniversityR35 930 – R64 170
University of KwaZulu Natal~R35 690
University of Cape TownR60 960 – R79 020
UniWitwatersrandwatersrandR 48 675 – R102 306