Unlocking Opportunities: 7 Great Scholarships for International Students in South Africa

Unlocking Opportunities: 7 Great Scholarships for International Students in South Africa

Introduction: South Africa, with its vibrant culture, rich history, and renowned academic institutions, has become an increasingly popular destination for international students seeking quality education. Recognizing the value of diversity and global collaboration, South African universities and organizations offer a range of scholarships specifically tailored to support the academic pursuits of international students. These scholarships not only provide financial assistance but also foster cross-cultural exchange and promote excellence in education. In this article, we highlight seven great scholarships for international students in South Africa, providing insights into their eligibility criteria, application process, and the transformative opportunities they offer.

  1. Mandela Rhodes Foundation Scholarship: Named in honor of South Africa’s iconic leader, the Mandela Rhodes Foundation Scholarship is one of the most prestigious scholarships available to international students in South Africa. This scholarship program provides full funding for postgraduate studies (master’s or doctoral) at any accredited South African university. In addition to covering tuition fees, accommodation, and living expenses, the scholarship includes leadership development activities, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Eligible candidates must demonstrate academic excellence, leadership potential, and a commitment to community service. The application process includes submission of academic transcripts, recommendation letters, and a personal statement outlining the candidate’s achievements, aspirations, and contributions to society.
  2. Canon Collins Trust Scholarships: The Canon Collins Trust offers scholarships to international students from southern Africa (including South Africa) pursuing postgraduate studies in various fields, including humanities, social sciences, and law. These scholarships aim to support individuals who are committed to social justice, human rights, and democratic governance. Funding covers tuition fees, living expenses, and travel costs. Eligible candidates must be nationals of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, or Zimbabwe and must have obtained admission to a South African university. The application process typically involves submission of academic transcripts, a research proposal, and references.
  3. Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Fellowship: The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Fellowship is open to high-impact, entrepreneurial-minded students from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, and Lesotho. The fellowship supports undergraduate studies at select South African universities and covers tuition fees, accommodation, living expenses, and personal development activities. In addition to financial support, fellows receive mentorship, leadership training, and access to networking opportunities. Eligible candidates must be in Grade 12 or 1st-year university, demonstrate entrepreneurial potential, leadership qualities, and academic excellence. The application process includes an online application, psychometric assessments, interviews, and a selection camp.
  4. African Leadership Academy (ALA) Scholarship Programme: The African Leadership Academy (ALA) offers scholarships to outstanding young leaders from across Africa for the ALA Diploma Program. Located in Johannesburg, ALA is dedicated to nurturing ethical, entrepreneurial leaders who will drive positive change on the continent. The scholarship covers tuition fees, accommodation, meals, and other expenses. Applicants must demonstrate leadership potential, academic excellence, and a commitment to community service. The selection process includes an online application, essays, recommendations, and interviews conducted regionally.
  5. MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program: The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program provides comprehensive scholarships to academically talented but economically disadvantaged students from Africa. The program aims to develop a new generation of ethical leaders who will contribute to social and economic transformation in their communities. Scholarships cover tuition fees, accommodation, living expenses, and other costs associated with attending university. Eligible candidates must be citizens of African countries and demonstrate financial need, academic potential, and leadership qualities. The application process varies depending on the partner university, but typically involves submission of academic transcripts, essays, and recommendations.
  6. University-specific Scholarships: Many universities in South Africa offer scholarships specifically targeted at international students to attract top talent from around the world. These scholarships may cover partial or full tuition fees, accommodation, and living expenses. Eligibility criteria and application processes vary depending on the university and the specific scholarship program. Prospective international students are encouraged to explore scholarship opportunities offered by individual universities and inquire about application deadlines and requirements.
  7. Government-funded Scholarships: The South African government, through the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), also offers scholarships to international students from select African countries through bilateral agreements and partnerships. These scholarships may cover tuition fees, accommodation, and living expenses for undergraduate, master’s, or doctoral studies at South African universities. Eligibility criteria, application processes, and funding availability vary depending on the specific scholarship program and country of origin. Prospective applicants should consult the DHET or relevant government agencies for information on available scholarships and application procedures.


For international students seeking to pursue higher education in South Africa, these seven great scholarships offer invaluable opportunities to access quality education, develop leadership skills, and contribute to positive change in their communities and beyond. Whether through prestigious foundation scholarships, university-specific awards, or government-funded initiatives, these scholarships not only provide financial support but also open doors to transformative experiences and lifelong connections. Aspiring scholars are encouraged to explore these scholarship opportunities, carefully review eligibility criteria, and submit compelling applications that highlight their academic achievements, leadership potential, and commitment to making a difference in the world. With dedication, perseverance, and the support of these scholarships, international students can embark on a rewarding educational journey in South Africa and emerge as leaders and change-makers in their fields

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