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Why more and more South Africans are studying at private varsities

BY: SGI|23 January 2019
BLOG| Deciding to study online

You’ve worked incredibly hard your whole high school career, studied your head off for matric finals, achieved great marks and a university exemption– you’ll definitely get into university, right? Wrong… Unfortunately there is a shortage of space in South Africa’s public universities.

Here are the stats according to the Dept of Higher Education and Training (DHET) Vital Stats Report:

  • Each year about 314 000 South African matriculants are eligible for a place in university.
  • There are only 208 000 spaces available in public universities.
  • So as many as 106 000 do not get the opportunity to study.

This means a large number of people whose matric was good enough for a varsity but until now have not been able to study at one due to limited spaces.


Luckily, there is an alternative. The lack of space has led to a growth in private higher education institutions aiming to fill the gaps. In 2015, 13% of all students were studying at private higher education institutions in South Africa. This was an increase from 8% in 2010. Unfortunately, these are the most recent stats, but with the increase in numbers of private education institutions, the next set of stats will almost certainly show an increase.


When the subject of private education comes up, there are often question marks around how affordable the courses will be. When you consider that only 22% of people that enter the public education system graduate in the original length of time for the degree and some studies seem to indicate that only as many as 60% ever graduate – it can end up getting quite expensive.


Private higher education is often more affordable because it takes less time and a higher level of support. This translates into a higher percentage of students graduating. Good private institutions have graduation rates as high as 90%. If you want to know what the "A to Z of being a digital student is" then you should read our blog with the same title.

Public institutions often have hidden costs that includes:

  • Very high textbook fees that are not reflected in the primary costs of the qualification. Textbooks can be as much as 50% of the total costs of studies.
  • Poor materials that have not been updated regularly and that is dependent on text-book lecturing
  • High drop-out rates
  • You can only enroll once a year when it is convenient for the university system to accept you.
  • There is no flexibility in your work, learning pattern or the fact that you may have to earn an income in the process of studying

So while you may pay a little bit more for a private higher education, the possibility that you will graduate is significantly higher, textbook prices are often included in your fees, materials are state of the art and up-to-date and you get a qualification that is as credible as one from a public institution.

Read more about how Stellenbosch Graduate Institute's offering compares to that of a physical business school.

Stellenbosch Graduate Institute is a new private company which offers the opportunity to study entirely online through world class content delivered in the most on-trend ways possible. Through online and scaling for growth, it is possible to admit as many students as are willing to study without compromising on quality or student experience!

At Stellenbosch Graduate Institute, with us:

  • You can start anytime
  • You can pay per module
  • Our micro modules allow you to study small bits and complete these according to your timing and budget
  • All textbooks are included
  • We offer state-of-the-art, student-centred learning programmes
  • Our courses are developed and taught by top faculty (lecturers)
  • All our students get support from a dedicated learning coach
  • We offer meaningful assessments that equip students for the job world

We, at Stellenbosch Graduate Institute, have a bold vision of placing 25 000 students annually in South Africa and 250 000 students across Africa in business studies. Be part of our big dream and vision and support the evolution of education in Africa! Apply here.


If you are keen to know what it is like to be a digital online student with SGI, then you should read our eBook here.


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