When the 2021 undergraduate distribution of students’ home language is compared to 2017, both English and other official South African languages increased by two percentage points, whereas Afrikaans decreased by five percentage points. The 2021 distribution is as follows: 48,7% (47,8% in 2017) identify English as their home language; 37,4% (42,4% in 2017) Afrikaans and 6,8% (4,9% in 2017) other official South African languages, with the remaining 7,1% (4,9% in 2017) identifying an international language as their home language.
English as the preferred language of learning and teaching for undergraduate students increased from 68,2% in 2017 to 80,8% in 2021. In 2021, nearly 100% of undergraduates with a home language other than Afrikaans, as well as 49,5% of undergraduates with Afrikaans as home language, preferred English as their language of teaching and learning.
In 2021, almost 100% of black African and Indian/Asian undergraduates preferred English as language of teaching and learning, as well as 80,7% of coloured and 73,8% of white undergraduates.
In 2017, approximately a quarter of undergraduates and newcomer first-years with Afrikaans as home language preferred English as language of teaching and learning. By 2021, this proportion had increased to nearly half in both instances, namely 49,5% for undergraduates and 46,1% for newcomer first-years.
This year (2021) the Faculties of AgriSciences, Education and Theology have the highest percentage of students who prefer Afrikaans as language of teaching and learning: between 35% and 39%. A total of 26,2% of undergraduates in the Faculty of Engineering prefer Afrikaans. In each of the remaining faculties, less than 20% of undergraduates prefer Afrikaans as language of teaching and learning.