Citizenship-By-Investment and Global Education

Citizenship-by-investment Programmes open up the world of international education for South African families

Access to world class education has become a key driver in the demand for a second citizenship or residency, not just for wealthy South Africans, but for the wealthy from key hubs across East and West Africa.

Nadia Read Thaele of LIO Global, a specialist in residency and citizenship-by-investment planning for private clients, says that she has seen a notable rise in South Africans investing in a second citizenship, stating their decision is often based on access to world-class higher education opportunities for their children. We are also seeing this amongst wealthy Nigerians, Kenyans and many more.

In the 2016-2017 edition of the QS World University Rankings, 33 of the top 100 universities in the world were located in the EU and 32 in the US.  South Africa’s weak economic outlook and growing political instability is unfortunately raising red flags and parents are wanting alternative options for their children according to Ms Read Thaele.

International Education

In a world of globalisation where South Africa and other African countries are increasingly taking their place in a highly competitive world, skills and superior educational credentials has become what sets one apart when it comes to those highly prized corporate boardroom positions.

However, as a foreign student, a student is most likely to be saddled with significant, often prohibitive costs. Furthermore, being accepted at many of the top European and US universities, becomes harder as an international student. This is where obtaining EU residency or citizenship can offer significant advantages..

When it comes to education, Ms Read Thaele says that it often enables studies at a more favourable EU rate or might be taken into consideration when applying for acceptance at a specific institution. For instance, when it comes to the Eurozone, European citizens studying at a university in another EU country other than their own, cannot by law be required to pay higher course fees and are also entitled to the same grants to cover course fees as nationals of that country. This treatment does not necessarily apply to support or maintenance grants and loans. Some countries may nevertheless choose to provide maintenance grants to other EU students, on their own initiative.

International education

With the European university system mostly based on public funding, their universities can provide excellent quality for very low or even no tuition fees at all for EU citizens. In certain countries e.g. Greece students who have acquired their permanent residency has the same rights as Greece citizenship when it comes to access to higher education.

Citizenship and education

If one looks at the top UK universities, the average annual cost an EU citizen might pay is approximately EUR 10 000 as opposed to EUR 27 000 for a non-EU citizen (  In Germany, tuition for international students is at least double or triple what EU citizens pay if there is any cost at all.

A stint in France for art and literature students is very valuable, and for engineering and technology, Germany ranks tops. The Financial Times ranks Europe’s business schools amongst the top in the world (together with those of the USA) and for medical studies too, the top ranked institutions of Europe are on the list of highly desired institutions.

When seeking an institution for study abroad, students are also starting to consider additional aspects beyond just the brand, ranking and reputation of an institution. The British Council report claims that the quality and value, including costs, career prospects, potential for further studies and student experience at an institution have increasingly become important in the student choice process.

Paris University

Paris University

When it comes to Europe one can access the European Union via residency programmes in Malta or Cyprus for as little as EUR 300 000. As mentioned, certain residents of EU countries might get some benefit when it comes to study costs .

However, for an investment of EUR 2 million, one can fast track to citizenship in as little as four months in the case of Cyprus and fourteen months for Malta (programme from EUR 1 million).

Surprisingly the Caribbean citizenship-by-investment programmes also offer some interesting options for education.  Grenada is a good example.  Today, 1 in 4 physicians practicing in the United States is trained at a foreign medical school.  Of that almost 1 in every 10 of those, were trained at the School of Medicine at St George’s University in Grenada.  In nearly four decades, they have graduated more than 15,000 physicians to the global health care system. Last year the St. George’s University’s US and Canadian Students achieved a 97% first-time pass rate on the US Medical Licensing Exam I, surpassing students from US and Canadian Schools 6 years in a row.  With more than 900 US residencies in 2017, no other medical school in the world provided more new doctors to the US health care system than St George’s and they have been numbered the number one provider of doctors into first-year US residencies for the last seven years combined.  Of their eligible 2016 US graduates who applied for a postgraduate position, 93 percent obtained one within one year.

St George's University, Grenada

St George’s University, Grenada

Grenada’s university provides a thriving multicultural environment on the True Blue campus, offering all the amenities and technologically advanced facilities of a world-class institution. The University offers medical and veterinary medical degrees in the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, and independent and dual graduate degrees in the sciences, public health, and business. The University fees compare favourably with other top medical universities, but approximately 80% of the students in the School of Medicine can obtain financial aid to pay for part or all of their medical school costs.

Grenada’s Citizenship-by-investment programme requires an investment from as little as USD 350 000 for a family of four with citizenship being obtained within 3 – 5 months.  With the added benefit of the E2-Treaty with the USA, Grenadian citizens also have the right to start a business and live in the States.

For most South Africans, it is about access and gaining a foothold in the global market, rather than emigration. They are keeping their options open and almost all families we assist, are not looking to physically emigrate. However, for their children, they want options.  And Citizenship-by-investment programmes open those new opportunities for them.

For more information, contact Isabella Meye at

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Residency, Citizenship & Real Estate


All Caribbean Citizenship applications to increase significantly from 1 August 2024.