11 Unique Things You Will Love About Studying in Johannesburg | Top Universities

11 Unique Things You Will Love About Studying in Johannesburg

By Stephanie Lukins

Updated June 30, 2022 Updated June 30, 2022

Sponsored by University of the Witwatersrand

Johannesburg, Joburg, Jozi, eGoli (City of Gold), whatever you want to call it – is a melting pot of cultures and languages.

A progressive city undeterred by its complicated social and political history, Johannesburg oozes urban regeneration as it lures thousands of international students to study in the city each year, thanks to its well-priced tuition fees, high standard of education, excellent hospitality, pleasant weather all-year-round and much more. It’s also been recognized as a top 100 student city in the latest QS Best Student Cities ranking.

Here’s a snapshot of what you’ll love and what you can expect when you study your postgraduate degree in Johannesburg.

Johannesburg is a buzzing city that loves to live fast



You’d be mistaken for thinking Johannesburg is one of the three capital cities of South Africa, such is its international reputation. However, while it lacks the official title, it’s widely considered to be the financial and cultural hub of the country.

From hipster coffee shops to fashion boutiques, art galleries to museums, botanical gardens to theaters, there’s a lot to get excited about in the city, and there’s definitely enough to keep you busy during your time here.

When it comes to bright lights and late nights, Johannesburg is home to some of South Africa’s most exciting entertainment and party scenes. Bassline and Artivist are located in the popular suburbs of the city near the University of the Witwatersrand, and is a real hub for students and locals alike who love all things music, especially jazz and Afro-beat, as well as comedy and impromptu music sessions.

Moving to Johannesburg to live and study is an exciting adventure, but just like all major and unfamiliar cities, it’s always good to take precautions. As long as you act and behave like you would in any new city – which means no showing off expensive possessions, or having large amounts of money in your wallet or purse, you should be ok.

Universities in Johannesburg, such as the University of the Witwatersrand consider student safety to be of paramount importance and have several protection services in place for students across its campus.

Johannesburg is one of the most affordable student cities in the world

In the QS Best Student Cities 2023 ranking, Johannesburg ranked 13th in the world for affordability, reflecting its relatively low tuition fees and living costs while making sure to not compromise on its high standards of living and quality of education.

Speaking of which…

Johannesburg is home to some of the country’s best universities


Credit: University of the Witwatersrand


Image credit: University of the Witwatersrand

University of the Witwatersrand is home to a growing postgraduate student community with over a third of students studying a postgraduate degree.

Around 39,000 students study at the university, and Emman Raj Munduthara, an MSc in Computer Science student from India, is one of them. When asked what made him decide to study at Wits University, he considered its international exposure and top reputation to be the biggest factors.

While Hwajin Sung, a student studying Honors in Portuguese believes the education at the university “well-structured and developed.”

Johannesburg is full of exciting business opportunities

Johannesburg is South Africa’s largest populated city and is an ever-evolving international hub full of networking, internship and job training opportunities. There is a huge demand for those with industry talent, knowledge and skills – especially recent graduates.

Salary prospects are also good, which is something to bear in mind should you want to stay once your university experience eventually comes to an end.

Johannesburg has an incredibly diverse nature



Such cultural immersion in Johannesburg today is both vigorous and uplifting, thanks to the uniting of 11 official languages, diverse cultures and vibrant people. “The people are really friendly, and you get to experience other people’s religion and cultures, which is great. Campus safety is also good,” said Isheanopa Chipumha, an Accounting Science student at Wits University.

It also has a fantastic arts and culture scene

For those who love all things art and culture, Johannesburg has lots to offer. In recent years, Johannesburg has seen itself transform into a cosmopolitan city where its arts and culture scene takes center stage in showcasing Johannesburg’s history and personality.

The central suburb of Braamfontein is where you’ll find the Wits Theater, Joburg Theater and the Wits Art Museum. Elsewhere in the city you can visit the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill as well as the National Cultural History Museum to better your understanding of the city’s and country’s past.

Witness Johannesburg in bloom


Credit: University of the Witwatersrand


Image credit: University of the Witwatersrand

Once a year between the months of September and November, Johannesburg is illuminated in magnificent shades of purple hue, thanks to hundreds of Jacaranda trees that line the city’s parks and streets.

Melville, Munro Drive in Houghton, Jameson and Victoria Avenues in Melrose, as well as James and Ethel Gray Park are where you can get the best views of this yearly phenomenon.

Johannesburg tends to boast pleasant weather all-year-round

For many international students, the thought of living abroad in a country that boasts a fairly pleasant climate all-year-round sounds absurd.

However, in Johannesburg, the average temperature for most of the year is 71 degrees Fahrenheit, which means winters tend to be short and mild, so snow is unfortunately a very rare sight. Students from the Northern Hemisphere will have to get used to the concept of a hot Christmas too, as the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere and the summer months of November-January can be as hot as 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

You’ll no doubt experience a South African braai



If you’re a meat lover in Johannesburg, you’ll definitely be in your element here as meat is a massive part of South Africa’s food culture and menu. Biltong is one such classic South African delicacy, a form of dried, cured meat and should definitely be tasted, even just once.

There’s also no doubt you’ll be invited to a braai or two, or even host a couple yourself. Although it should be noted a braai is definitely not the same as a barbeque (any South African will tell you that)!

If you love sport then you’re definitely in the right place


Credit: University of the Witwatersrand


Image credit: University of the Witwatersrand

Rugby, cricket and soccer (football) are considered the nation’s most popular sports to watch and play. The South African national rugby team, aka the ‘Springboks’ are the fifth-best national rugby team in the world and their home matches at Ellis Park stadium in the heart of Johannesburg are always worth attending.

When it comes to sport and recreation at the University of Witwatersrand, there’s something for everyone, from hockey to basketball, swimming to athletics and so much more.

A big deciding factor for Tristan Mohamed, a Civil Engineering student to study at Wits University was the sports facilities as he wanted to continue playing rugby. While he knew of Wits University’s high academic reputation, he also wanted to discover the sports opportunities available to him.

He told us: “I was given a tour of Wits and the sports facilities and was taken through their achievements and alumni. It made me realize how under acknowledged Wits sport is - it was amazing.

“I ended up registering right then and there, and even joined the rugby team.”

You’ll have the chance to get off the beaten track and explore South Africa



Beyond the boundaries of university campus, Johannesburg is the ideal destination for those who crave adventure. Although the city itself is several hours by road away from the nearest beach, there are plenty of other activities and trips for adventure and travel lovers to enjoy.

For example, Pilanesberg National Park is definitely worth the three-and-a-half-hour drive from Johannesburg. Make a weekend of it and experience one of the country’s most captivating game reserves. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the ‘Big Five’ on a safari – lion, leopard, buffalo, giraffe and rhino. 

Just north of Johannesburg, you’ll find the location which is believed to be the origin of all mankind. In 1999, the world-renowned archaeological site, Cradle of Humankind was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is where over a third of all the world’s human ancestor fossils have been discovered.

This article was originally published in October 2019 . It was last updated in June 2022

Want more content like this Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.

+ 2 others
saved this article

+ 3 others saved this article

Explore Events

Get assisted by higher education experts

Our expert teams can help start your academic journey by guiding you through the application process.

Related Articles Last year

Most Shared Last year

Most Read Last year