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Students encouraged to study abroad as universities can only admit less than half who applied

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International universities look for students with academic potential, and who were intellectually curious, passionate and enthusiastic.

The entrance to the University of Pretoria. Local universities can only admit half of those who applied, so South Africans students are urged to spread their wings and study overseas. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

TOP performing students in South Africa are encouraged to consider studying abroad as local universities can only admit less than half of those who applied.

This was according to manager at Crimson Education, Rebecca Pretorius, who said international universities looked for students with academic potential, and who were intellectually curious, passionate and enthusiastic.

Pretorius said for students to increase their chances of acceptance abroad they needed to start working on their applications as early as possible.

Most importantly, they needed to understand the differences between applying at home and overseas and what the requirements were, Pretorius said.

“One of the main barriers to entry for local students looking to study at top universities abroad is meeting the application criteria, which differs from South African universities in many ways,” she said.

She explained that beyond academics, a large part of an application to an international university, particularly in the United States, was based on extracurricular activities that show depth and a high level of success.

Despite the long and protracted application to get admitted abroad, South African students stood the chance of being admitted like any applicant provided they have put in the time and effort necessary to build a competitive application, according to Pretorius.

“An estimated 12,000 South African students are studying abroad, a number that is steadily increasing, despite the competitiveness of applying overseas. This is a positive sign that being accepted into an international university is achievable for local students,” she said.

She also encouraged students to do research on universities they intended on applying to and consider certain factors when choosing a university to avoid not being able to fit in and excel.

“We encourage students to think about a variety of factors when choosing a university: the location, transport connections to particular countries or cities, city or campus university, historic background, LGBTQ+ societies and the stance of the university, quieter or secluded or louder social scene, and reputation for particular sports or societies.”

According to her, students need to look for funding because, for example, the US was the most expensive country to study at while the United Kingdom has some cheaper options available.

“Europe is the most affordable option especially for students who hold EU citizenship and can access local, even free options.

“The caveat here is that some of these options, like Germany, require fluency in the local language.

“Italy is very affordable for example. Canada remains a popular option for South Africa with some well-ranked universities at a fraction of US fees,” she said.

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