Kenyan’s Applying to SA Universities: Application Process


As a Kenyan, you may be finding the process of applying to a South African university a little tricky. This article can guide you through the process!

If you’re a Kenyan and looking for a South African university (or any other tertiary institution) to study at, you’re probably wondering exactly how to go about applying to study here. Where do you even start? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered!

What do you need to apply to a South African university?

First things first. What do you need in order to apply to study at a South African university?

Before you start applying for a study visa and packing your bags, it’s important to make sure that you pass the matriculation exemption. This is a way to ensure that your marks are up to standard.

  • Four Higher-level subject passes (grades 1 to 3 are required)
  • One Ordinary-level pass including English Language on first or second language Higher-level
  • Approved Higher or Ordinary Level language on first level (if English is taken at second language level) or a foreign language (if English is taken at first level language).
  • And two Higher level subjects selected from two of the following groups:

Group 3: Third language, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Physical Science or Biology

Group 4: Art, Economics, History, Geography or one subject from Group 3 excluding third languages

Group 5: Accounting, Computer Studies or Design and Technology – subjects must be accompanied by a pass mark in Mathematics on at least an OL

To Note: A certificate of foreign conditional exemption is issued to a candidate who has passed four approved HL subjects and one approved OL subject credit, including English or English Language but no second language. 

You need to apply for the Matric Exemption through the matriculation board.  You can apply online and through hard copy. For more detailed requirements, go here. It can take up to 8 weeks for the exemption to be awarded so keep that in mind when applying for university.

Tip: Make double sure of the application closing dates before applying.

Each South African university has their own methods of application. Some universities only accept online applications, while others prefer hardcopy applications.

Generally, each university will request the following:

  • Online Application or a Hardcopy Application
  • Submit Supporting Documents
  • Pay the Application Fee

When applying online, you will complete the same online application process as a South African. Make sure that you tick off the international student section.

Generally, you will be required to submit the following documentation:

  • Certified copy of your valid passport
  • Proof of medical coverage
  • Most recent school report

The documents you need, will vary from university to university so make sure that you check which documents they require when you are applying to the different universities. Make sure you have all your documents certified.

After you have completed your application and submitted all the documents, you will need to pay the application fee. You will be required to pay the international application fee. You can find the banking details to do an EFT on the university website. You will probably need to send proof of payment to the university. Make sure you do this as soon as possible.

If you will be completing a hardcopy application you’ll need to do the following:

  • Download the application form off of the university website.
  • Complete the application form.
  • Pay your application fee online.
  • Post your completed application, proof of payment and certified documents to the university.

You can find the postal address on the university website. It is probably better to use Registered Post, because this will ensure the safety of your application and give you the peace of mind that will arrive at the university in time.

Once you’ve completed your online application and submitted your documents, you will be required to pay the application fee. The amount you will need to pay will vary depending on the university. Often, the universities provide alternative methods for paying the fee, so choose the easiest for you.

* With hardcopy applications, you will need to pay your application fee before posting your application and documents. You will need to send your proof of payment with these documents.

All learners who wish to study at a South African university are required to write the National Benchmark Tests. They use the results when considering your application.

You can go to the NBT website to find out what is covered in the tests and where you can write the test.

In order to apply for a study visa, you’re going to need to prove that you have medical aid. In fact- without medical aid, you can’t apply for a Visa! Whether you get international medical cover through your local medical aid or whether you choose a South African one (some universities, like Wits will only accept SA medical aids), you need to have the proof that you won’t be relying on South African government hospitals and doctors when you fall ill. You don’t need to be covered in South Africa when you apply, but you do need a clear statement that your cover will start upon your arrival in SA to start your studies.

Here are some medical aids in SA that you can take a look at:

Note: You only need to apply for medical aid once you’ve been accepted. You need proof of medical cover when you register at the South African university at the beginning of the academic year.

This is when things get exciting! Once you have received your university acceptance letter, you can begin applying for your study visa.

As an international student, you will need to get a study visa from the South African Embassy in order to study in SA. You’ll need medical aid coverage to be able to apply for the study visa too (as stated in the section above).

Remember, it can take several weeks for your study visa to be approved. So, make sure that you apply with time to spare.

EduConnect 2Cents:

Applying to study at a South African university is an exciting process. Make sure that you do everything with plenty of time to spare and do your research carefully, so that you are not caught out. As always- contact the university you are applying to if you have any specific questions and they will be able to guide you.

And remember, having medical aid and a study visa is needed when you study at any university, university of technology, TVET and any private institution.

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