The South African Department of Higher Education and Training, DHET oversees universities and other post-secondary education in South Africa. Higher education was segregated under Apartheid. However, since 1994 students have been free to enroll in any institution, and institutions have worked hard to increase the diversity of both the students and staff. The South African higher education system, while not without its problems and challenges, is recognized as the best on the continent, with several institutions comparable to the best globally in a variety of international rankings.
Opportunities abound for U.S. scholars to forge collaborations with South African counterparts across many disciplines. The goals of the Fulbright Scholar Program in South Africa are to support collaborative research in all disciplines, strengthen South African graduate education through teaching, and contribute to broader and longer term U.S.-South Africa institutional linkages. DHET and other governing bodies have identified the lack of staff possessing a Ph.D as a priority and are addressing this within South Africa. We encourage applications that would support this initiative. Proposals will be considered from mid-career and senior academics for teaching and early-career, mid-career and senior academics for research.
There are three main institutions of higher education: universities, universities of technology and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. Universities offer degree courses that take a minimum of three to four years to complete. Universities of Technology offer mainly diploma and certificate courses, but also offer degree courses that take about three years to complete. A University of Technology places emphasis on innovative problem-solving and career-directed courses, in addition to the basic responsibilities of a university. TVET colleges provide students with skills that would lay a foundation for higher education and facilitate the transition from school to work.
A Bachelor's degree is a three-year program and the curriculum tends to be a little more structured with less flexibility than at U.S. universities. Students graduating with high enough scores can apply to stay on for a fourth (honors) year. During this fourth year, students take honors classes and write a thesis.
The South African academic year is usually divided into either two terms or four terms. If two terms, they are from Jan/Feb to June and from July to early December. If four terms, they are from Jan/Feb to March/April; April/May to June; July to September; and Sept/Oct to Nov/Dec.
Dependent children of Fulbright Scholars have previously attended private South African schools. The South African school system follows the United Kingdom Standard form of schooling. The South African school year begins in mid-January and ends in early December. The schools have a four-term year. Term dates vary from year to year and depending on the school, but are approximately as follows:
- Term 1 - mid-January to late March;
- Term 2 - mid-April to late June;
- Term 3 - mid-July to late September;
- Term 4 - early October to early December.
Students transferring from a U.S. curriculum based school need to be cognizant of the difference in school year start times. Schools are also available that are based on the American curriculum and follow the U.S. academic calendar. Contact the Office of Overseas Schools for more information.