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How do I apply as an international applicant?

An international applicant is a person who is not a citizen or permanent resident of South Africa, or a refugee/asylum seeker with a permit allowing study. The higher education institutions of KwaZulu-Natal welcome applications from international applicants for their formal degree, diploma and certificate programmes. Some institutions also offer the opportunity to study in South Africa for one semester or one year. DUT and UKZN do not accept international applicants into their access programmes. Applications to study Medicine at UKZN are consider ONLY from citizens of Lesotho and Mauritius and applicants must apply via their governments. You will require a study permit if you wish to come to South Africa to study. This does not apply to distance learning students who study in their home countries.

Where do I send my application as an international applicant?

If you are applying for short-term study, apply directly to the institution.

If you are applying to UKZN only, apply directly to the institution.

Study Permits

Once you have a letter offering you a place from the further or higher education institution, you can apply to the South African embassy, high commission, consulate or trade office for your study permit. The permit application will take up to eight weeks to be processed. Acceptance by an institution does not place any obligation on the South African government to issue or renew study permits. DO NOT leave home before your study permit is granted – you will not be allowed to study on a visitor’s permit. You cannot apply for your first permit after you arrive in South Africa. People who are in South Africa for study purposes are not eligible to apply for South African citizenship. Refugee and asylum seeker applicants require documentation from the Department of Home Affairs granting permission to study in South Africa.

Foreign qualifications

The following are considered to be equivalent to the South African degree entry requirements:


Five passes in GCE including two at `A` level:

  • "A" level passes must be A, B, C, D or E
  • "O" level passes must be A, B or C

Five passes in GCE as well as four at AS levell:

  • "A" level passes must be A, B, C, D or E;
  • "O" level passes must be A, B or C; and
  • "AS" level passes must be A, B, C or D.
  • Applicants from SADC countries who have five passes at ‘O’ level, including English language, may be considered for diploma study.


    Passes in five subjects, four of which must be at HIGCSE level:

  • HIGCSE passes must be 1, 2 or 3
  • IGCSE passes must be A, B or C
  • Applicants who wish to enter degree programmes are required to have passes in English language and one other language, and must usually have also passed Maths.

    The Matriculation Board gives details of requirements for those with other qualifications. Applicants should apply for a ‘Foreign’ or ‘Foreign Conditional’ Matric Exemption from the Matriculation Board. Institutions will usually assist with this, or you can consult the Matriculation Board directly.

    The Matriculation Board

    P O Box 3854, Pretoria, 0001

    1267 Pretorius Street, Hatfield, Pretoria, 0001

    ☎ 010 591 4401/2

    Website: • Email:

    Those wishing to enter diploma programmes may be required to have their qualifications assessed to confirm that they are equivalent to the South African Senior Certificate. This evaluation is carried out by SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority). If you need to contact SAQA, you must ask for the Quality Assurance Department. The cost of an assessment varies, depending on the level of priority. Conditions are on the SAQA website.

    SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority)

    Postnet Suite 248, Private Bag X06, Waterkloof, 0145

    ☎ 012 431 5000