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University Application Process for Namibians

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Are you a Namibian finding the South African university application process a bit tricky? Read this article for a guide to make it easier for you.

I’m assuming that you’re reading this article right now because you live in Namibia and you potentially want to study in South Africa upon the completion of high school. Great decision, we have some pretty kickass universities.

This is just a general guideline to guide you and help make the application process an easy journey. Each university has different requirements, fees and processes. Be sure to do your own research and make 100% sure of the requirements of your chosen university.

Application Process Checklist:

Checked all of the below boxes? You should be well on your way to apply to more than one institution in SA:

  • Matriculation Exemption
  • National Benchmark Tests
  • How to Apply (Online versus Hardcopy Applications)Medical Aid
  • Study Visa
  • Time for the Waiting Game

1. Matriculation Exemption

First things first, in order to apply to any university in SA, it is important that you pass the matriculation exemption to ensure that your marks are up to standard and that you meet the admission requirements.

As a Namibian studying at any university in SA, the Matriculation Board requires you to have:

  • 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 pass marks in four approved HL subjects and one approved OL subject credit, including English or English Language but no second language. This means that you’re able to apply to SA universities – woohoo!

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.

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For more information, contact the Matriculation Board directly:

SA callers: 010 591 4401/2

International callers: +27 (0)12 481 2922

Fax: 086 677 7744 (SA only)


2. National Benchmark Tests

All learners who wish to study at a university in SA are required to write the National Benchmark Tests. Watch the video below for more information.

There are six writing centres in Namibia. To see the exact venues, go here.  If none of these venues are close to you and you can’t get to them, you can contact the NBT centre and request a remote writing centre, look at point 9 for more information. 

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3. How to Apply

  1. Apply Online or Submit a Hardcopy Application
  2. Submit Supporting Documents
  3. Pay Application Fee

As an international student, you will follow the same application processes as a South African applicant. You can choose whether you would prefer online applications or hardcopy. Online is definitely easier.

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*Take note of the application closing dates. Some universities have the same application dates for internationals and South Africans while others have earlier closing dates for internationals. It’s important to be aware of this and give yourself enough time to apply.


Some universities no longer accept hardcopy applications, like the University of Witwatersrand, while others only accept hardcopy. You will need to make 100% sure of this. Find out what each university requires here.

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To apply 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

* Universities like Stellenbosch require Grade 11 marks, so check up on the required documents before starting your application.

The documents needed may vary from university to university so it’s important that you check which documents they require. If in doubt, rather have all copies certified.

After you have completed your application and submitted all of your 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 so ASAP.

Online applications are easier as you can do everything from the comfort of your home and it isn’t necessary to post any documents. As a Namibian, this is a lot less hassle and makes your life easier.

Another note: Institutions in KwaZulu Natal use the Central Applications Office (CAO) as their medium for applications. 

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With a hardcopy application you’ll need to do the following:

  • Download the application form off 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.

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Once you’ve completed your online application and submitted your documents, you will be required to pay the application fee. The easiest way to pay is using your guardian’s credit card. The universities will provide alternative methods, so choose the easiest for you. The amount you need to pay depends on the university, so check up on this before you pay.

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.


4. Medical Aid Cover

Before being able to apply for a study visa or at any university in SA, you need to be able to prove that you have medical cover for your stay in SA. Without medical aid, you can’t apply for a Visa, i.e. – you won’t get very far. Whether you get international medical cover through your Namibian 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.

5. Study Visa

Your visa doesn’t need to be sorted out and approved before you apply to university, but it does need to be approved before you can register at any university.

As soon as your medical aid is sorted, apply for your visa. As an international, you’ll need to obtain 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. So get your medical aid sorted out as soon as you can.

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

6. The Wait

This is probably the worst part of any application – waiting to hear whether you were accepted or not. It can take a while. Generally, they’ll only let you know a month or so after the applications close.  As you can imagine, they have thousands of applications to go through.

Applying to university as an international is the easy part. Getting your study visa and sorting out some sort of medical aid is the most difficult and time-consuming part. Make sure you do this at the beginning of your matric year so that you’re prepared for when university applications open. It’s ALWAYS better to apply sooner rather than later. You may even get early acceptance this way.

EduConnect 2Cents

Applying to study in a foreign country can be scary. Luckily many have done so before you and have been successful. If you’re feeling stressed about it, try and chat to a fellow Namibian who has studied or is currently studying SA. Either way, we think South Africa is amazing and beautiful. You’ll love it here.

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