University fees have skyrocketed in the past years, making it hard for disadvantaged students to enter higher education. This has led to students looking for alternative ways — such as free online courses — to teach themselves new skills and gain new knowledge.

Various universities around South Africa have partnered up with a number of online educational platforms, to provide free online courses. This was done to promote distance learning throughout South Africa. These free online courses have made it possible for disadvantaged students to access higher education, with a promise of a certificate at the end of the course. Another great advantage that these free online courses have is that they can be done in the comfort of your home or anywhere, as long as there is good internet connection you’ll be sorted. These are some of the universities that offer free online courses in South Africa, University of Cape Town (UCT), University of Witwatersrand (WITS), University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Oxfam International. But this article will focus on free online courses offered at UCT and WITS.

List of UCT free online courses

There are 23 free online courses offered at UCT, these free online courses are divided into five categories. Which are Popular Courses for Everyone, Courses for Research and Development Professionals, Courses focused on Innovation and Technology, Courses for Health Professionals and Courses focused on Teaching and Learning. 

1. Popular Courses for Everyone

Becoming a Change Maker: Introduction to Social Innovation

In this course, students will learn about social innovation knowledge.

Extinction: Past and Present

This course is about the diversity of life on earth, where you’ll learn about the effects of the past five mass extinctions and the sixth possible one.

Medicine and the Arts: Humanising Healthcare

This course combines medicine and art, where you get to explore the intersection of medical humanities and the arts.

What is a Mind?

This course goes deep into detail in exploring the human mind, leaning towards the scientific and philosophical concepts of the mind.

2. Courses for Research and Development Professionals

Climate Change Mitigation in Developing Countries

This course challenges you to critically think about how one can mitigate poverty in developing countries while also trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate Adaptation in Africa

This course focuses on the effects of climate change in Africa. It looks into adaptation, sustainable development, the concept of vulnerability, and climate-resilient development.

Large Marine Ecosystems: Assessment and Management

In this course, you learn about the tools and concepts to help you manage and access Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs).

Research for Impact

This course is made to deepen your research skills, where you get to learn a set of practices and principles to make your research more insightful.

3. Courses focused on Innovation and Technology

Innovative Finance: Hacking Finance to Change the World

This course teaches you about building and designing innovative finance strategies to help accelerate the social impact in a community or a business.

Fintech Regulation in Emerging Markets and the Rise of Fintech Companies

In this course, you can learn about the major financial crises and how fintech regulates the financial market by using case studies.  

How Entrepreneurs in Emerging Markets can master Blockchain Technology

Here you learn the potential that artificial intelligence and blockchain has for start-ups in emerging markets.

Building Start-ups in Emerging Markets

This course provides step-by-step guidelines to help you in your entrepreneurial journey in the fintech industry. It offers basic business tools and they also help you set up interviews with various start-up companies.

Julia Scientific Programming

This course introduces you to a new programming language, which was made for the sole purpose of high-performance scientific computing.

4. Courses for Health Professionals

Understanding Clinical Research: Behind the Statistics

This course teaches students how to interpret the result section of medical papers, such as the p-value or confidence interval.

Doing Clinical Research: Biostatistics with the Wolfram Language

In this course, you’ll learn how to do biostatistical analysis for clinical research and you’ll be doing this using the programming language called Wolfram.

Organ Donation: From Death to Life

This course will teach about organ donation and when is the right time to take an organ from a deceased body. This is called the science behind death determination.

5. Courses Focused on Teaching and Learning

The Unbundled University, the Market and Digital Technology

This course asks you what you think is the future of Universities? During the duration of the course, current issues affecting higher education will be explored.  

Education for All: Disability, Diversity and Inclusion

This course explores inclusive education, putting more focus on where there are limited resources.

Writing Your World: Finding Yourself in the Academic Space

While this course is about improving your writing skills, it also explores how you engage with the world around you using concepts of mobility, identity and culture.

Disability Inclusion in Education: Building Systems and Support

The support teachers require to address the learning needs of kids with severe to profound hearing, visual, or cerebral disabilities is explored in this course.

Educating Deaf Children: Becoming an Empowered Teacher

This course teaches you the skills needed to provide a holistic and good quality education to deaf children.

Severe to Profound Intelectual Disability: Circles of Care and Education

This course teaches about how one can support the needs of children with profound intellectual disabilities. It makes you easily understand what intellectual disability is about, how to build relationships of care and respect and how to plan learning activities. The course is tailored towards caregivers, parents, therapists and anyone involved in the education and caring of children with profound intellectual disabilities.

Teaching Children with Visual Impairments: Creating Empowering Classrooms

This course is catered towards teachers. It illustrates to them how to make their classrooms to be more inclusive, attuned and accessible to children with visual impairments.

List of WITS free online courses

Wits introduced three free online courses which launched in 2016, they did this in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Havard University. The three courses are System Dynamics for Health Sciences, Research Methods: An Engineering Approach, and Result-Based Project Management: Monitoring and Evaluation.

1. System Dynamics for Health Sciences

In this course, people learn to use system dynamics, which will help them understand complex medical interventions and issues. 

2. Research Methods: An Engineering Approach

This course helps you learn the steps of how to successfully plan, tailor and design your research from an engineering perspective, with this you are able to understand the underlying principles of postgraduate research. 

3. Research-Based Project Management: Monitoring and Evaluation

The course focuses on how to carry out result-based and design public sector programmes that optimise the use of resources.

The above free online courses offered by WITS are all free, but to get your certification you’ll have to pay $49 which is equivalent to R890.

Frenchside Translation Agency

Frenchside is a translation agency based in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town. We will translate your transcripts, certificate, diplomas and degrees, so you’ll be able to enrol in time for your free online course at UCT or WITS. We have high-quality translators who are native speakers of the language they translate into. Our translators have over 10 years of experience and are experts not only in translations but in other fields as well. So we guarantee you accurate and clear translations, without compromising the meaning and language of the source material. We translate into French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and any of the 11 official South African languages. For more information about our translation services please contact us and we’ll be happy to help you. Call us at 012-348-3134 or 081-347-6060, or send an email to

Free online courses offered at UCT and WITS
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Free online courses offered at UCT and WITS
WITS and UCT are some of the universities in South Africa which have partnered up with some online educational platforms to provide free online courses. These online free courses were created to promote distance learning and offer those who are disadvantaged the opportunity to access higher education through learning new skills and gaining knowledge.
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    June 21, 2023 Reply

    How can one enroll for such free courses

    • admin
      June 21, 2023 Reply

      Hi, Galimamaka.
      Please visit the universities’ websites. You’ll be able to get more information there, including how to enrol. Thanks.

  2. Francois
    September 20, 2023 Reply

    Hi, I am interested in the free online Researched- Base Project MANAGMENT: MONOTORING AND Evaluation course

    • admin
      September 27, 2023 Reply

      Good day Francois,
      Kindly contact the University of the Witwatersrand for more information about course and enrollment.

  3. boitumelo
    February 7, 2024 Reply

    I would like to be part of the free online course

    • admin
      February 8, 2024 Reply

      Good day Boitumelo,
      Kindly contact the University of Cape Town for
      more information regarding the listed free courses.

      Kind regards.

    • admin
      February 16, 2024 Reply

      Good day Edson,
      Thank you for reaching out, kindly note that we highly recommend that you get in touch
      with the universities directly since this article is published primarily on the basis of
      providing information.

      We value your support.
      All the best.

  4. Shanice
    April 18, 2024 Reply

    I want to study

  5. Lungelwa Jimana
    May 31, 2024 Reply

    I would like to do the Researched Base Project management

    • admin
      June 11, 2024 Reply

      Good day Lungelwa,

      We kindly recommend that you contact the Universities for more

      Kind regards.

  6. Lungelwa Jimana
    June 7, 2024 Reply

    I am interested in these courses but i have been sending emails no response

    • admin
      June 11, 2024 Reply

      Good day Lungelwa,

      We kindly recommend that you contact the Universities for more

      Kind regards.


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