Despite being the smallest of the BRICS in population and having a relatively small number of public institutions of higher education (HE), South Africa (SA) has several world class universities and is the HE leader on the African continent. This paper presents an overview of various demographic aspect of HE in SA including types of institutions, popular fields of study, faculty demographics, government expenditures on HE, and the availability of financial aid. However, the focus of the paper is on globalization factors such as distance education, the presence of foreign university branch campuses, SA as a destination for international students (especially for students from southern Africa), and the regional and global rankings of SA universities. The research presented is informed by the author’s personal experiences as a doctoral student at the University of South Africa. The paper concludes with a brief critique.

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