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back to school

Some students don’t have access to universities and tertiary education, either because of limited space, location, lack of money or the necessary qualifications, while others prefer more personalised education.

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According to 2 recent reports on IOL, South African school-leavers are battling to find a place in university, with demand far outstripping supply, while higher fees are stretching family budgets

The rise in more affordable distance learning, online courses, and the MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) movement means school-leavers planning to study, and employees who want to learn a new skill, have more options than ever.

Let’s look at some of the available alternatives:


Distance learning

The what

You get to study at your own pace, and have a variety of courses to choose from. Depending on the institution you choose, you can study from marketing to childcare, with short courses lasting a few months to full degree programmes of up to 8 years.

All your study material is sent to you and you also need access to the Internet for at least one hour a week.

The where

Search online and you’ll find quite a few distance learning institutions. Start exploring with these:

Some universities such as  North-West University and the  University of the Free State (UFS) also offer distance learning.

The cost

Fees can range from R1 500 for a short course to over R60 000 per year for a degree programme.

The qualification

Certificate to master’s and doctoral degrees.


Online learning

The what

With the global growth in smart devices, students can access information more easily. Bandwidth quality is also improving, providing better access to the Internet. And although still high, data costs are decreasing every year, if not every month, allowing more people to go online. There’s been massive growth in online learning providers, with some who offer free  MOOC courses while others charge a once-off, monthly, or yearly fee.

You are spoilt for choice when deciding. Maths? Writing? Marketing? Artificial Intelligence?

All your material is delivered online – in some cases you can download PDFs of the course notes or video lectures to read or watch offline later. 

The where

Universities are also getting involved in the online learning world, with  Harvard MIT and  Yale among the growing number offering online courses.

The cost

Free to $3 000 and up.

The qualification

Self-learning pathways with no certification, or a specialisation certificate, to a diploma.


Paying for your education

There are a number of ways to pay for an education. When it comes to distance learning, most institutes accept debit or credit cards, postal or money orders, bank deposits or Internet payments. You can also consider applying for credit of up R200 000 over 84 months.

When choosing online learning you can pay with a credit card, electronic funds transfer or direct deposit for Red & Yellow and Get Smarter. Places such as Khan Academy and Coursera offer free courses, while Udemy and Lynda provide a mix of free courses and ones you pay for, normally with a credit card.

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