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South African Universities Offering Free Online Applications for 2023

Applying to university is a crucial milestone for many, and the cost can be a significant factor in the decision-making process. While much attention is paid to tuition fees and living expenses, the application fee itself is often overlooked. It’s a one-time payment that, despite being non-refundable, can accumulate to a sizable amount when applying to multiple institutions. As of 2023, some South African universities are offering free online applications, a move that could lighten the financial burden for aspiring students.

The Reality of Application Fees

Traditionally, most universities in South Africa have required an application fee, a sum that is not returned even if the application is unsuccessful. This can prove demoralizing for those operating on a tight budget, effectively discouraging them from applying to multiple institutions to broaden their chances of acceptance.

Read also: High Court Rules Four Months Parental Leave for All Parents, Declares Sections of Labor Laws Unconstitutional

Universities Offering Free Online Applications

University of Johannesburg (UJ)

As a public educational institution with a diverse student body of over 50,000, UJ provides a wide range of courses across various disciplines. The university allows prospective students to apply either online or through printed forms. Importantly, the online registration process is free, and UJ has cautioned applicants to beware of scams that suggest otherwise.

Rhodes University (RU)

One of the country’s oldest educational institutions, Rhodes University is well-regarded for its robust postgraduate research rate and academic achievements. Applicants interested in applying to Rhodes University are required to submit a high school transcript and an academic writing piece, along with their online application, all of which can be done without a fee.

University of Free State (UFS)

Founded in 1904, UFS offers a broad spectrum of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. As of 2023, the University of Free State is another institution that does not require an application fee for online submissions.

Universities Charging Application Fees

While the initiative to offer free application processes is laudable, it’s essential to note that several universities still require an application fee.

University of Pretoria (UP)

UP is a prominent public research university that has nine campuses and a business school. The university charges an application fee of R300 (roughly 30 US Dollars) for online submissions as of 2023.

University of South Africa (UNISA)

UNISA, Africa’s largest educational institution by enrollment, offers both vocational and academic programs. As for the application fee, an online registration payment of R12500 is required during the registration process.

Stellenbosch University (SU)

Stellenbosch University is another public research institution that has an application fee of R100 for 2023, except for certain categories of students, including international students.

Tshwane University Of Technology (TUT)

TUT, a merged institution created from three technikons, requires an application fee of R240, which can be paid through various methods, including bank deposits and electronic transfers.

Balancing the Equation

For students struggling with financial constraints, the absence of an application fee could be a determining factor in choosing where to apply. Yet, it’s crucial to remember that while the application fee is one consideration, other variables like tuition, course offerings, and institutional reputation should also be weighed in the balance. Offering free online applications not only democratizes the application process but also makes higher education slightly more accessible to a broader swath of the South African populace.

Degrees to Consider Carefully: Balancing Passion and Job Market Realities

Selecting a college major is a significant decision that can influence your future career path. While some degrees lead to high-paying roles right after graduation, others may not guarantee immediate financial return but offer intellectual or artistic rewards. Here’s a list to help you weigh your options:

1. Music

While many successful musicians have not had formal training, degrees in Music offer a deep understanding of musical theory, history, and the opportunity for disciplined skill development.

2. Culinary Arts

Though culinary school is not strictly necessary to become a chef, formal education in this field can provide specialized skills and networking opportunities that may be beneficial in the long run.

3. Anthropology and Archeology

Jobs in this field may be limited, but for those passionate about human history and culture, the intrinsic rewards can be considerable. Some positions may require advanced degrees.

4. Advertising

This field is highly competitive, and while a degree can offer a foundational understanding of marketing strategies, real-world experience often counts for more.

5. Art History

Though job opportunities may be limited, the degree provides rich intellectual rewards and can serve as a unique entry into areas like museum curation, teaching, or art restoration.

6. Criminal Justice

Direct job opportunities in law enforcement or investigation may be limited and competitive. However, this degree can serve as a pathway to various other roles in the legal system.

7. Travel and Tourism

While the industry offers fewer high-paying roles, for those passionate about travel, this degree can lead to fulfilling roles in tour operation, travel consulting, and event planning.

8. Theatre Arts

A degree is not mandatory to become an actor, but formal training can refine your skills and offer networking opportunities in the highly competitive entertainment industry.

9. Studio and Fine Arts

In fields like painting or sculpture, your portfolio often matters more than your degree, but formal education can offer technique, discipline, and valuable mentorship.

10. Biology

Though foundational, a Biology degree often serves as a stepping stone for specialized fields like Biochemistry or Environmental Science.

11. Communications

This versatile degree can be applied in many fields but may require supplementary skills or specialization for specific roles.

12. Ethnic Studies

Cultural awareness is increasingly valued in various sectors, but this degree may be more impactful when paired with another field of study.

13. Journalism

As traditional media evolves, journalism graduates should consider diversifying their skills to adapt to the digital landscape.

14. Philosophy

While jobs directly related to philosophy may be rare, the critical thinking skills acquired can be applied in various sectors, including law and public policy.

15. Computer Science

Though technology evolves rapidly, foundational knowledge in computer science provides a basis for adaptation and specialization.

16. Entrepreneurship

While useful, this degree is most impactful when combined with real-world business experience.

17. Fashion and Design

The fashion world values creativity and portfolio quality, making this degree useful but not the only path to success.

18. Languages

Language skills are increasingly valuable in our globalized world, though practical experience or dual majoring may enhance job prospects.

Choosing a degree should involve considering multiple factors, including your passion, intellectual curiosity, and the realistic job opportunities in your chosen field. Always remember that the journey doesn’t end with a degree; it’s just the beginning of lifelong learning and career adaptation.

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