South Africa is home to the world’s most stunning and exotic wildlife. Not only that its natural environment and beautiful tourism attract foreigners, but it also offers low-cost tuition fee rates for international students seeking to obtain higher educational attainment in the country. On top of that, most of its higher education institutions offer courses taught in English, which makes it favorable for most international students who don’t master any African languages. Aside from the welcoming ambiance of South Africa, its people are also amicable, which makes the country an ideal place for international students to live and study.

Below, we talk about some of Africa’s best English-taught universities.

Top Universities for English-taught Programs in

1. University of South Africa

The University of South Africa (UNISA) is among the most prestigious and best English-taught universities in South Africa. It is widely known as the largest university in the country by enrollment. UNISA attracts about a third of all tertiary education students in Africa and enrolls thousands of international students from 130 countries worldwide, making it one of the world’s so-called “mega-universities.” It offers a range of vocational and academic degree programs that are internationally accredited.

The institution is also known as the world’s first university to offer a distance learning system to cater to individuals seeking higher educational attainment but who cannot attend residential colleges due to personal circumstances and occupational obligations. Moreover, UNISA played a significant role in giving access to high-quality tertiary education to previously disadvantaged Africans who were victims of the apartheid system in the early 1990s. On top of that, UNISA has majorly contributed to the higher education system of South Africa, in which most of the African universities descended from its establishment and became autonomous. The institution has educated many notable names in the country, including the country’s first democratically-elected black president, Nelson Mandela.

As a huge distance-learning university, it offers a range of English-taught undergraduate courses for English Studies in an open-distance e-learning setting. The university also offers postgraduate degree programs taught in English.

2. University of Cape Town

The University of Cape Town (UCT) is South Africa’s number one university. It is the top-rated South African university in major global academic league tables, including the 2022 QS World University Rankings (226th), Times Higher Education (183rd), and Center for World University Rankings (269th). UCT is the oldest higher educational institution in South Africa, founded in 1829 as the South African College. It is also known as one of the world’s oldest existing universities in continuous operation.

Located in one of Africa’s three capital cities, Cape Town- UCT offers an international learning community, a culturally diverse campus environment, and lively student-staff relationships. What’s more exciting is that it is the country’s most international university welcoming thousands of international students from over 100 countries worldwide. The university offers the best quality of education. It provides a vibrant student community with different societies and clubs that offer many fun and engaging cultural, recreational, and sports activities that cater to its students’ diverse interests. As a world-class university, UCT provides a range of internationally accredited degree programs in many disciplines. English, isiXhosa, and Afrikaans are the official languages of UCT, with English as its primary language of instruction and administration.

UCT focuses on the commitment to education and research excellence, continuous transformation to cope with modern challenges and the needs of society, and the courage to innovate and do things differently.

3. Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University (SU) is one of Africa’s benchmarks for research excellence, producing many groundbreaking research and discoveries in various disciplines. The university created Africa’s first microsatellite known as SUNSAT. It received its full university status in 1918, the same day as the University of Cape Town, which eventually became the two oldest higher educational institutions in South Africa. Stellenbosch is a research-intensive university that offers a range of prestigious degree programs in arts, economics and management, education, sciences, agriculture and forestry, health sciences and medicine, military and defense, law, theology, and engineering.

Being among South Africa’s top English-taught universities, Stellenbosh attracts an astounding number of international students from over 100 countries, making it one of the most international universities in Africa. The institution uses a multilingual model of instruction. Depending on the degree programs, lectures could be in English or Afrikaans in undergraduate and graduate studies.

4. University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

The University of Witwatersrand (Wits) is a prestigious public research-intensive university in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is among the top-rated research universities in the country with an outstanding reputation for producing applied and innovative research in natural sciences, medical and health sciences, social sciences, humanities, and engineering. Wits is a founding member of the African Research Universities Alliance and has many active collaborative partnerships with African and international institutions. The university was founded as the South African School of Mines in 1896 and became the third-oldest university in the country.

Wits is home to many world-class researchers and has produced many notable alumni, including the first democratically elected black president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, who studied law there before becoming president.

The institution offers a diverse and multicultural learning environment that enrolls thousands of international students from over 100 different countries worldwide. Wits Language School offers basic and intensive English Language Training to individuals who want to improve their English skills. With its staff and students coming from different places, it follows a multilingual model of instruction being, English combined with African languages.

5. University of Kwazulu-Natal

  • Study Program
  • Degrees taught in English: Bachelor’s, Master’s, Ph.D.

The University of Kwazulu-Natal, another one of the best English-taught universities in South Africa, is a top-ranking research-intensive and state-funded university. It is a multi-campus spread over the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. After merging two prestigious universities, namely, the University of Natal and the University of Durban-Westville, the University of Kwazulu-Natal was formed in 2004. Along with its commitment to providing high-quality education, it aims to continuously contribute to the economic development of the African continent by giving access to higher learning to previously disadvantaged people during the apartheid years. The university has many strategic partnerships with different institutions from over 46 countries, opening opportunities for student scholarships and experience. Its primary language of instruction is English and isiZuluone of the indigenous African languages.


We hope you found this article on the best English-taught universities in South Africa informative and helpful. Make sure to also check out our Scholarships Page for different information on scholarships and universities across the globe!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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