Overview Pre-Covid-19, the number of South African students studying in the United States increased to 2040 students, placing South Africa 5th in the continent in terms of students studying in the U.S. With 17 percent of the total South African population aged between 17- 24 there is significant potential to increase this number The South African education system is divided as follows:  Pre-high school (# of years): 07 (Grade R to Grade 6) High school (# of years): 06 Lower secondary (also known as the “senior phase”) lasts through grade 9 and is mandatory. Students typically begin lower secondary at age 12 or 13. The curriculum for lower secondary school includes the home language, an additional language, mathematics, natural science, social science, technology, economic and management sciences, life orientation, and arts and culture. Students receive 27.5 hours of classroom instruction per week. Upper secondary, also known as further education and training (FET), lasts through grade 12, and is not compulsory. Entry into this phase requires an official record of completion of grade nine. Just as in the intermediate and senior phases, this phase comprises 27.5 classroom hours per week. The Academic year calendar runs from mid-January to early-December. Traditionally the recommended times for U.S. educational institutions to visit are May, July (Private Schools), August (Public Schools), and September. Market Trends The top five receiving states for South African students are New York, California, Massachusetts, Texas, and Pennsylvania. Students in the U.S. by Academic Level Number percent / Change 2017- 2018 Undergraduate – 1156 / +10.6 percent Graduate – 550 / +6 percent Non – Degree – 334 / +13.1 percent Optional Practical Training /  -9.1 percent Students in U.S. by U.S. Institution Type / percent Undergraduates in 4 – year institutions / 87 percent Undergraduates in 2 – year institutions / 13 percent Public Institute vs Private Institute 50 percent / 50 percent Resources Universities South Africa ( Council on Higher Education ( South African Department of Education ( The International Education Association of South Africa [IEASA] ( The United States – South Africa Higher Education Network ( For More Information, the U.S. Commercial Service, South Africa, can be contacted via email:, Phone: +27 (0)31 305 7600 X3150, or visit our website at

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