As South Africa enters matric examination season, there has been an increase in enquiries at the local branch of an international
a global citizenship and residence advisory firm from local high net worth individuals (basically the super rich) wanting to secure international education opportunities for their children.
This is according to Amanda Smit, managing partner and head of South, East and Central Africa at Henley & Partners.
Since 2018, there has been an increase of 364% in interest from South Africans for a second passport, according to Marisa Jacobs, director at Xpatweb.
"South Africans are looking to their future and that of their children, the idea of having the opportunity to study and work in any country across the EU remains appetising," she says.
Ease of travel is also a key reason. A Cyprus passport allows visa free travel to 169 countries, Greece 183 countries, Malta 182 countries and Portugal allows visa free travel to 184 countries.
Henley & Partners has received a noted increase in international education related enquiries from throughout Africa so far this year. The year-on-year increase in enquiries were South Africa (1000%); Gabon (200%); Kenya (1000%); Malawi (100%); Congo (240%); Namibia (233%); Swaziland (500%); Tanzania (150%); Uganda (750%).
Universities Popular with SA students are Edinburgh, York, Bristol, Oxford and Cambridge in the UK and Leuven in Belgium, Leiden, Utrecht and Erasmus in the Netherlands, University College and Trinity in Ireland in Europe.
She said the last few months have been the busiest the company's SA branch has ever been. She told Fin24 that so far this year 45% of all enquiries received by the firm regarding investment migration programmes, were about options in Portugal.
"I think it is a combination of the volatility of the rand and safety concerns," says Smit.
"Even if these super rich people enquiring with us do not plan to leave the country immediately, they want to try and put some type of 'insurance' in place," says Smit.
"They are concerned about their children's future and the first step that comes to mind for them it to look at their university education."
She told Fin24 that it is getting harder to secure study visas in both the US and UK, particularly for African and Asian students. This is due to tighter immigration controls over the refugee influx into Europe over the past five years.
"While international students usually take it for granted that they would be able to remain in the country they’d studied in after graduation, tighter immigration controls are starting to make it almost impossible to count on this fact," says Smit.
On the other hand, if parents are taking part in an investment migration programme, it could mean their dependant children will pay less for their international tuition.
If a parent is regarded as an EU citizen, for instance, tuition could be up to 50% less than for international students. It will also enable the children to stay on in the parent's "adopted country" to work without any restrictions.
She mentions investment migration options in Cyprus and Malta as examples of programmes with minimal stay requirements.
Smit says research indicates that the UK's private boarding schools are still seen as the gold standard and in her experience the UK's Tier 1 Investor Visa is the favourite among the super reach she deals with who are seeking to access international education for their children.
She points out that investment migration options usually have a property component, such as the ones offered by Greece, Portugal, Cyprus and Australia. The EU programmes grant rights to education, healthcare and citizenship which can be passed down to generations.
The EU investment migration programmes usually require between €500 000 to €2.1m (about R7m to R30m), which is usually retrievable after a number of years.