Apply to local and international universities from South Africa

“Did you know? South African high school students can complete secondary education in a manner that allows them to qualify to apply to BOTH local & international universities”

Currently all state schools and most private schools in SA, offer the CAPS curriculum. This is a school curriculum designed & approved by the National Department of Education. This curriculum is most common in SA, hence everyone knows it, and is comfortable with it. CAPS schools do have some shortcomings in the South African context with the current status of our state schooling system as a whole (overcrowding, accessibility to good schools, shortage of qualified teachers etc.)

This leaves South Africans with very few alternatives, but don’t despair. A high school alternative is available with great benefits too – The Cambridge International Examinations curriculum. Globally recognised and highly regarded, the Cambridge Curriculum is offered in 160 countries worldwide and by more than 50 private schools in SA. 6000 schools across the world administer the Cambridge International examinations.

The benefit of completing your high school education with the Cambridge International Curriculum, is that a student could receive South African university exemption too. This gives the student the option of applying to local and international universities, and thereby greatly increases their chances of acceptance into a highly regarded tertiary institution.

Why would you want the option of local and international university application?

Well, 3 key reasons come to mind here:

  1. South African University spaces are very limited – the top 10 SA universities cater for less than 400 000 students in total – even less in terms of first year entrants
  2. The World is your oyster – global trends mean that people compete in a global village, and need to be competitively educated.
  3. Exposure to diverse cultures, places and people – ALL while studying.

Grades eight, nine or ten students in South Africa, who are considering studying at international tertiary institutions, have the option of completing high school at institutions that offer the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE).

Schools that offer these examinations will allow you to study IGCSE, AS and A level subjects.

The Cambridge A Level, and the precursor AS Level, are qualifications recognised by universities around the world and are a key entrance criterion for many. The Cambridge syllabus allows South African high school students a qualification that is acceptable by all South African universities, universities of technology, and most notably universities in 165 countries internationally.

It usually takes two years for a student to complete both their AS and A levels, the final secondary qualification levels of Cambridge International.This means that South African students can gain an internationally recognised school leaving qualification in the same amount of time as a South African matriculation qualification, perhaps even with fewer subjects.

All universities in the UK and most universities in the US and Canada, accept Cambridge International A Levels as adequate qualifications to apply for tertiary studies. The South African equivalent National Senior Certificate (done on CAPS or IEB syllabus), is not readily acceptable to most international tertiary institutions.

The dual-certification process

South African students who complete their Cambridge IGCSE and AS/A Levels need to apply to Universities South Africa (USAf) Matriculation Board for exemption. Universities South Africa, formerly known as Higher Education South Africa (HESA), is a membership organisation representing South Africa’s universities. The Matriculation Board will help you assess your current qualifications to determine if they are suitable for South African universities and, if not, how to go about getting the correct exemption.

USAf will issue conditional or full exemptions to students who meet certain requirements in terms of the Higher Education Act (Act 101 of 1997) no. 1317, dated 5 December 2008.

There are 3 options to the USAf requirements for exemption. A student studying the Cambridge curriculum with Cambridge IGCSE and AS/A Level subjects could choose from:

Option 1: A levels (2 A level subjects + 3 IGCSE subjects)
Option 2: A levels (3 A level subjects + 1 IGCSE subject)
Option 3: AS Levels (4 AS Level subjects + 1 IGCSE subject)

These 3 options give students a variety of workload choices, allowing them to best manage their personal study and learning capacity. No more stressing about subjects that they don’t really need or want to study.

The CIE subject choice requirements for exemption by USAf are as follows:

  • Must have a Group I subject (First language)
  • Must have a Group II subject (Second or additional language)
  • Must have a Group III subject (3rd language, biology, chemistry, combined science, coordinated science, mathematics, physics or physical science)
  • If offering a subject from Group V, then must have maths at IGCSE level with at least a C grade. Minimum grades pass requirement for CIE subjects, to qualify for USAf exemption are as follows:

A Level subjects – E grade (40-49%)
AS Level subjects – D grade (50-59%)
IGCSE subjects – C grade (60-69%)

Please contact the USAf at for further info regarding the exemption application process.

Minimum University Entrance Requirements

The fact that a student may qualify for a certificate of exemption does not imply that the university is obliged to accept the student or that the student meets the requirements of the faculty. For example, the medical faculty of the University of Pretoria requires a minimum of 6 AS subjects.
Therefore, it is vital that students/parents consider carefully their tertiary institution of choice, as well as the qualification the student wishes to pursue and select the correct CIE subjects accordingly. It is best to investigate this directly with the tertiary institutions you are considering.

At CambriLearn, an online homeschooling platform, we integrate modern learning and studying techniques that is aligned with the International British curriculum.

CambriLearn provides high quality lessons using the globally recognised International British syllabus, recorded video lessons, and live Q&A sessions with online access to our staff of trained teachers.

CambriLearn offers in-house content, multi-sensory learning materials to keep students engaged, the ability to download assignments, and upload completed assignments for grading and constructive commentary from the subject teachers. Additionally, there is guided learning, used to direct a student to appropriate content, where they need extra focus.

CambriLearn has the following subjects on offer at International GCSE, AS-Level and A-Level: English Afrikaans, mathematics, history, French, business studies, accounting, chemistry, physics, biology, and economics. So, in a nutshell, if you wish to broaden your horizons and study internationally, contact CambriLearn and we will gladly assist you on your journey to academic excellence.

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Apply to local and international universities from South Africa

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