Differences Between College And University In South Africa

There are several colleges and universities in South Africa, as the country is one of the most elite in the continent of Africa, even in terms of education and academics.

Differences between college and university in south africa majorly revolve around the fact that while colleges offer certificates and diplomas, universities offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

Differences Between College And University In South Africa

While there are various peculiarities attached to a college and a university, you should be aware that the major difference between them is that colleges offer certificates and diplomas, while universities offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

A traditional university in South Africa offers a wide range of degrees while the students also get a great deal of knowledge in a specific field. The University of Technology is meant to help students focus more on practical training as well as technological innovation.

On the other hand, there are several private colleges in South Africa, which are independent institutions that are privately funded.

Here is everything you need to know about colleges and universities:

Types Of Universities

As stated already, there are several types of universities in South Africa. These institutions are primarily established as higher educational institutions where one can study towards getting degrees and doing academic research.

We have the traditional university that was made to offer different types of courses (the students can choose from any of the courses that they qualify for). Many times, the average traditional university offers undergraduate and postgraduate education. Some of the institutions in this category include the University of Cape Town, the University of Witwatersrand, Stellenbosch University, and so on.

On the other hand, there are Universities of Technology (used to be referred to as technikons). These offer career-specific programmes and are interested in technological innovation.

Types Of Colleges

These institutions offer various forms of qualifications (like certificates and diplomas). At a college, one can complete their Matric Certificate. In South Africa, there are also arrangements to improve one’s Matric results.

Here are the three types of colleges in South Africa:

1. Private Colleges

These are independent institutions located in different parts of the country with their own policies and are privately funded. Some popular colleges in this category are Varsity College, Rosebank College, etc.

2. Distance Learning Colleges

In such a setting, you can decide to study from anywhere you are, without any in-person classes. Therefore, you can decide to do other things even when you are studying. Some of the best distance learning colleges here are Ember Academy, Matric College, Skills Academy, and so on.

3. Further Education and Training Colleges

FET colleges are made to offer occupational training. Also known as Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, their qualifications are highly esteemed too. In such places, the student will gain occupational training and can be made adequately ready for the workplace.

University Or College?

A country like South Africa gives great attention to education, and whether you are going to a college or university, you will benefit a lot from studying. Nevertheless, we should talk about the advantages and disadvantages of both types of higher education.

Benefits Of University

Indeed, it is a very nice thing to go to the University, as several doors will be easily opened for you. There are several global opportunities that may not come without passing through the university. Some of the very nice things about passing through the university include:

A. Having a Degree: One can get a degree at a university and such status can be very helpful in getting a high-paying job anywhere in the world.

B. Do research: If you have a great affinity for research and the rest, you should try a university. The institutions allow taking part in crucial research projects. If a student has the drive, they can even publish their own research works and end up becoming successful academically.

C. University culture: The University community is an exciting one that is a melting point for different types of great people from different places and environments. As a student in one, you will be a part of a culture-rich environment too.

Disadvantages Of Universities

We can say the advantages attached to attending a university far outweigh the disadvantages. However, this doesn’t mean there are no disadvantages that can be highlighted. They include:

A. Being Expensive: In many places, you must spend a lot to attend a university. However, if you don’t have enough resources, you can still apply for a bursary.

B. Little practical experience: You won’t get in-depth practical training in the average traditional university, although they teach a lot of in-depth knowledge about a specific field.

C. It takes time: You must be ready to spend a lot of time just to get your university degree.

Advantage Of Colleges

Folks that are really career-orientated may want to give great priority to a college. Here are some benefits of studying at a college in South Africa:

A. Get qualified: You can get the chance to get valuable qualifications that are highly regarded in the country from a college.

B. Study without a matric: There are colleges that can bring you in even without a matric.

C. It is less expensive: You don’t have to really spend so much in the average college as you would in the university.

D. Work and study: There are Distance learning colleges that allow one to work and earn an income


While you can get superb qualifications at a college, here are some disadvantages attached to it:

A. It has limited programmes: Unfortunately, unlike in universities, not all study paths can be studied via colleges in the country.

B. It is a lower level of education: It is generally known that the place where you can get a degree is in the university.

C. Less social: Those that are studying a distance learning course for instance may not have the chance to engage in a lot of social in-person interaction.

In Conclusion

While there are various peculiarities attached to a college and a university, you should be aware that the major difference between them is that colleges offer certificates and diplomas, while universities offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.