Higher Education and Tuition in Northern Africa


Admission to universities in Northern Africa is generally based on a students score on a Secondary School Certificate Examination and their secondary school transcripts. Higher education costs in some areas are free, however the government’s higher education budgets have been significantly decreased and funds have been redirected to other social, political and economic needs. Governments and universities may charge minimal, annual student fees as a result of lack of funding and cost recoupment.


Access to higher education in Africa has traditionally been very limited due to limited availability of academic seats for students and lack of faculty. The Ministry of Education has made great strides toward increasing the availability of local higher education centers, distance education and expanding the number of public universities.


Below is a sampling of higher education systems in Northern Africa and the range of tuition costs that may be found in Northern Africa. The people of Northern Africa are generally very helpful and hospitable, however it is always wise to guard personal safety when traveling or living in a foreign country and a culture that is much different than your own.




Egypt is home to nearly 81 million people and provides the largest overall higher education system to both the Middle East and North Africa. The higher education system is governed by the Ministry of Education, which reports that higher education is comprised of both private institutions (16 private universities, 89 private higher institutions) and public institutions (17 public universities, 51 technical institutes).


Egypt’s tertiary population is increasing at significant rates that are expected to exceed more than 60,000 new students per year. At this time, Egypt’s higher education system struggles with providing adequate facilities and teaching staff to meet the demands of rapidly increasing numbers of undergraduates. Previously the government focused on equity and accessibility of higher education which has resulted in an extreme lack of up to date curriculum and poor standards of service.


Egypt’s government has historically been committed to providing free education at all levels, including the tertiary education system. The idea of charging students for post-secondary education is highly controversial; however some public universities are beginning to charge students nominal fees (< $1000 USD). Students are outraged by the implementation of student fees because attaining a college degree does not guarantee access to better paying jobs. The government maintains control over all job placements, including most jobs in the private sector.




Students attending universities and professional technical institutions are required to pay a minimum of a percentage (generally 15%) of tuition costs that covers instruction and instructional materials. Students are required to pay the entire cost of their food and lodging but are eligible to participate in a government loan program that requires loans to be repaid in full within 15 years of graduation.


Fees for instruction expenses (classes, tuition, books and student fees) are between $250 USD and $900 USD per academic year. Living expenses (room, board, food, transportation, personal items- clothing, entertainment, etc) start around $1500 USD and increase to as much as $2200 USD annually.


The cost of living in Ethiopia is afordable. A one bedroom apartment can be rented for approximately $500 per month. If you are willing to live in a room that has been renovated by the owner of the house it is attached to, then monthly rental could be $300 or less. Internet cafes are very popular hangouts and offer hourly access for about $4 UDS per hour. Transportation averages $2.80 USD per day roundtrip. American’s living in Ethiopia recommend hiring around the clock, English speaking security guards, this is estimated to cost approximately $35 USD per month. On the average, eating out at a Westernized restaurant will cost between $5 – 15 USD and restaurants are plentiful. Those who learn to eat Ethiopian food can eat for less than $1 USD per day.




Tunisia is the smallest country in North Africa. Tunisia is a popular tourist attraction due to its host of international festivals celebrating its rich French colonial history and Arabic culture. Tunisia is considered a favorite tourist destination by European travelers.


Tunisia’s government dedicates nearly 25% of government funding to support thirteen public universities that are governed by the Ministry of Higher Education that works in collaboration with other governmental agencies to provide supervision and leadership to 193 institutions of higher education and research. More then 24 Private Higher Education Institutions are established in Tunisia and provide a wide range of programs.

Tuition fees in Tunisia are approximately $29.50 USD annually for students to attend a public university; this includes instructional costs and educational supplies only. Tunisian Public Universities have made more of an effort to create local educational centers to minimize costs for transportation and living arrangements.


Living costs in Tunisia: Presented in USD

Renting a house ranges from $110 to $370 a month.

Doctor’s visits- $15-$30 each visit

Electricity/Water Paid every 3 months- is not very expensive $5 to $17 depending on use.

Gas is incredibly expensive and is not advised if you are living on a budget.



Ghana’s higher education system is comprised of 5 public universities and more than 100 private higher education institutions that include universities, professional institutes, teachers colleges, technical colleges and training institutes, however less than 14% of private institutions are licensed.


Due to a redirection of funds to increase educational opportunities for children ages 3 to 16 years of age, the government has encouraged alternative funding options for students seeking higher education. Alternative funding for higher education includes cost sharing from both public and private sponsors. Approximately 25% of students attending universities receive a portion of some form of government financial aid assistance; this is equal to approximately 4,000 students. Government funding is only available to students who attend public universities. Students are required to finance their own education (approximately 80% of students pay their own tuition, room and board), unless they can score above the cut off on the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education Examination. Students who score above the cut off are permitted to attend public universities at no cost


Tuition costs for public universities in Ghana range from $8,000 USD to more than $22,500 USD annually(low range includes government assistance with living expenses and increases fees at the higher end of the spectrum that is based on student paid accommodations at universities), depending on living arrangements, transportation costs and personal expenses for clothing, entertainment, insurance and medical needs. Tuition costs for attending a private institution in Ghana ranges from $28,500 to more than $30,000 USD annually, to include costs for tuition, registration, student fees, educational supplies & books, housing accommodations (room, board, meals), transportation and personal expenses.

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