Trade and Industry

Internationalization of Higher Education in Southern Africa with South Africa as the Major Exporter

  • Year: 2009
  • Organisation: Services Sector Development Thematic Working Group; TIPS, BIDPA and UoM
  • Publication Author(s): Kwaramba Marko
  • Countries and Regions: South Africa, Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Through the analysis of trends in South Africa's higher education enrollment of Southern African Development Community (SADC) citizens over the years, the study investigates the extent to which the country has strategically marketed its educational services and positioned itself as the educational hub of Southern Africa. The analysis reveals that South African universities' export of higher education services has been modeled in line with three of the four modes of supply identified in World Trade Organization's (WTO) General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The three modes that the country has utilized are: (i) cross-border supply, (ii) consumption abroad, and (iii) commercial presence, and as a result of that, it has become the educational hub of southern Africa.

The study found out that South Africa can act as the educational hub of Southern Africa. It has been found out that it is competent in most education attraction factors. It has the highest number of public universities in Southern Africa. South Africa universities dominated the top ten highly rated Universities in Africa. In terms of factors that lead to internalisation of higher education South Africa Universities offers international recognized academic qualifications. South Africa in general is highly rated in terms of local availability of research and training institutions, quality of scientific research institutions quality of overall infrastructure and institutions. The study further provides some policy suggestions as to how best South Africa and SADC countries can improve their respective higher education laws, regulations and strategies in order to attract more foreign students into their respective universities. Some of the possible regulations to enhance enrolment of regional citizens in the universities of member states includes: (i) allowing students on study permit to also work in the country of study whilst studying without having to get a separate work permit, (ii) harmonizing recognition of educational qualifications across the region thus making it easier for potential students from one regional country to apply and be accepted at a university in another country, and (iii) introduction (or increasing) of flexibility in studies for instance, through block release where students come for a limited period for face-to-face tuition whilst distance and online learning constitute a larger proportion of the qualification tuition.