Attempting to enroll in a long-distance learning program in South Africa can be daunting due to its far-flung locale, but the benefits of a degree from a prestigious foreign university can enhance both one's education and résumé. There are considerations, however -- primary among them that distance students lack the connection and tutelage often necessary when completing advanced degrees.
Of the many good universities in South Africa, three either offer or specialize in distance education. The first is Tshwane University of Technology (TUT); the next is the University of Pretoria; and the last is University of South Africa, more commonly known as Unisa. All three are headquartered in Pretoria and offer different types of programs.
While it appears to be a glamorous or inexpensive undertaking at first, long-distance study is not to be taken lightly. Just because the university you are looking at is in a foreign country does not mean it is a free ride. Do not mistake the lower tuition costs for an inexpensive education, because you will undoubtedly make up some of the difference in traveling to South Africa for possible residency or presentation requirements.
A degree from one of these three institutions will look wonderful on your résumé and could open otherwise closed doors; however, it should be noted that their accreditation for advanced degrees may not be recognized in the United States for purposes of teaching. Many U.S. institutions require regionally accredited degrees, which could leave you having done all the work for nothing if teaching is your ultimate goal.
TUT primarily offers tertiary degrees in humanities, education, public management and safety and security management. The University of Pretoria's distance learning focuses on the faculty of education, and Unisa has a variety of disciplines to offer, as it is one of the largest distance-learning universities in the world.
The benefit to gaining an advanced degree is without a doubt a good career move. Obtaining a degree from a foreign university shows determination, versatility, diversity and ambition. At the end of the day, the education received will be worthwhile (if not top notch) and it will be seen as an advantage to studying at a conventional local institution. This is especially true if your career path leads you to any type of field that would favor a degree earned in Africa.
- Photo Credit Morissa Pawl - 2007