Graduates sit in a tent on the premises of the University of Mannheim during a Master's graduate party.
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  • The cost of some degrees at universities in South Africa vary widely.
  • A variety of factors influence what you'll pay for, including the institution's prestige, location, specialisation.
  • Popular bachelor degrees like BAs and BComs vary by as much as R30,000 depending on where you choose to study.
  • Here's how much first-year studies cost at some of the country's prominent universities.
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Although there are many factors to consider besides cost when picking a tertiary institution, it's a crucial starting point for many. The cost of studying for a bachelor degree at South African universities varies significantly. And how much you pay for your studies depends mainly on what courses you choose, what qualification you will end up with, and where you decide to study. 

Fees for similar degrees at different institutions can vary significantly, and costs often hinge on global recognition and accolades, included materials and excursions, specialisations, and location.

A university renowned for its courses in a particular subject, such as journalism, medicine, or law, may also price these at a premium, with other less-popular courses coming in cheaper than competitors. But broadly speaking, some universities are also just more expensive than others - even if they're in the same city.

The first year of studies for a Bachelor of Commerce or Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of the Western Cape, for example, is up to R30,000 cheaper than at the nearby University of Cape Town. 

Fees for first-year studies in other degrees also vary widely. 

First-year law degree fees vary by as much as R25,000 depending on where you choose to study. And there's a R30,000 difference between the cheapest and expensive first-year medicine degrees. 

Identifying the total cost of first-year studies is also complex. Universities in South Africa tend to publish their rates slightly differently from one another. Some offer an estimated range, some quote per course or stream, and others exclude various fees in their published estimates. There are other costs like application fees, course materials, and residence fees that students will also have to consider.

The cost of the full degree also varies. But in general, most universities charge roughly the same for subsequent years of studies, depending on the institution and course.

Here's how estimated fees for popular degrees vary across some of the country's most prominent universities:

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