Home      SA Universities

Many of South Africa's universities are world-class academic institutions at the
cutting edge of research in various spheres. Together, the country's 23 public
higher education institutions offer a range of study and research options for
both local and international students.

South Africa began restructuring its higher education system in 2003 to
widen access to tertiary education and reset the priorities of the old
apartheid-based system.  Smaller universities and technikons (polytechnics)
were incorporated into larger institutions to form comprehensive universities.
The so-called comprehensive universities, of which there are now six, offer a
combination of academic and vocational diplomas and degrees, while the six
universities of technology focus on vocationally oriented education. The 11
traditional universities offer theoretically oriented university degrees.
Subsidised by the state, South Africa's universities are governed in terms of
the Higher Education Act. They remain autonomous, however, reporting to their
own councils rather than to the government.
Here's a quick rundown of South Africa's 23 universities, arranged according to
type of institution.

Traditional universities

Rhodes University

Based in the Eastern Cape town of Grahamstown, Rhodes University
is more than a century old. The university has around 6 000 students, of which
a quarter are international students from 57 different countries. Nearly half
the student body live on campus, in residences.

Rhodes offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in
the faculties of humanities, science, commerce, pharmacy, law, and education.
It boasts the highest academic staff to student ratio of any university in
South Africa and is perhaps best known for its journalism and media studies department.·       
Website: www.ru.ac.za

North-West University

North-West University was formed in 2004, with the merger of the
Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education and the University of
North-West, formerly the University ofBophuthatswana. It is now one of South
Africa's biggest universities, with about 32 000 fulltime and distance

It has three campuses in two provinces: the Mafikeng and Potchestroom campuses
are in the North West province, while the Vaal Triangle campus is in Gauteng.
It upholds the promotion of multilingualism as a core practice, with key innovations
in place to meet the needs of its diverse student body.       
Website: www.nwu.ac.za

University of Cape Town

South Africa's oldest university, founded in 1829, UCT has one of
the most picturesque campuses in the world, situated on the slopes of Table
Mountain’s Devil’s Peak and overlooking Rondebosch in Cape Town.

The university is regarded as the top research institution on the
continent, with more "A" rated researchers than any other South
African university. It is the highest ranked African university in both the QS
World and the Times Higher Education world university rankings.

The university is home to Groote Schuur Hospital, where the
world's first heart transplant took place in 1967, and lists five Nobel
Laureates among its alumni.       
Website: www.uct.ac.za

University of Fort Hare

The University of Fort Hare, dating back to 1916, is the oldest
historically black university in the country. It was the academic home of many
of South Africa's most prominent leaders, including Nelson Mandela, Oliver
Tambo, Govan Mbeki, and Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Fort Hare has two Eastern Cape campuses, in Alice and East London.
It offers a range of degrees and diplomas in faculties of science and
agriculture, social sciences and humanities, management and commerce, and at
the Nelson R Mandela School of Law.       
Website: www.ufh.ac.za

University of the Free State
The University of the Free State, which was established in 1904,
has its main campus as well as a second smaller campus in Bloemfontein. Its
third campus is in Qwaqwa, in the Eastern Free State.

With around 33 000 students, the university offers a full range of
under- and post- graduate degrees and diplomas in the faculties of education,
health sciences, including a medical school, the humanities, law, natural and
agricultural sciences, theology, as well as economic and management sciences,
which also houses the UFS business school. All classes are offered in Afrikaans
and English.

Under the leadership of Professor Jonathan Jansen, the university
is committed to its vision of becoming an equitable multicultural and
multilingual university.       
Website: www.uvos.ac.za

University of KwaZulu-Natal

Incorporating the former Durban-Westville and Natal universities,
the university covers four campuses in Durban and one in Pietermaritzburg. With
around 42 000 students, it comprises four colleges: agriculture, engineering
and science; health sciences, including schools of clinical medicine and
nursing; humanities; and the college of law and management studies.       
Website: www.ukzn.ac.za

University of Limpopo

The University of Limpopo has two main campuses: one at Turfloop,
to the east of Polokwane in Limpopo province; the other at Ga-Rankuwa, just
north of Pretoria. The university represents a merger between the University of
the North and the Medical University of Southern Africa (Medunsa), which was
incorporated as a full medical faculty.

Its other faculties are humanities; science and agriculture; and
management and law. The university focus is on finding solutions to meet the
needs of African rural communities.       
Website: www.ul.ac.za

University of Pretoria

Established in 1930, the university is one of South Africa's
largest, offering around 1 800 academic programmes in English and Afrikaans. It
has the highest research output in South Africa, a position it has held proudly
since 1997.

The university has nine faculties spread over seven campuses –
economic and business sciences; education; engineering; built environment and
information technology; health sciences; humanities; law; natural and
agricultural sciences; theology; and a faculty of veterinary science at
Onderstepoort, which is the only one of its kind in South Africa.

Its business school, the Gordon Institute of Business Science, was
established in Johannesburg in 2000. GIBS was ranked as the top MBA in Africa
by the Financial Times in 2011.       
Website: web.up.ac.za

University of Stellenbosch

Situated in the wine-growing region of Stellenbosch, 60km from
Cape Town, Stellenbosch University has four campuses: the main campus at
Stellenbosch, which hosts the faculties of arts and social sciences, science,
education, agrisciences, law, theology, economic and managements sciences, and
engineering. The health sciences faculty is at Tygerberg Hospital, while the
business school is in Bellville, and military sciences faculty in Saldanha.

The university, home to around 26 000 students, is committed to
using and sustaining Afrikaans as an academic language in a multilingual
context. So while predominantly Afrikaans, many courses are lectured
bilingually, and students are allowed to write their assignments and exams in
English. At postgraduate level, the language of tuition is determined by the
composition of the class.       
Website: www.sun.ac.za

University of the Western Cape

Originally established in 1959 as an ethnic college for coloured
students, the university now provides facilities for more than 12 000 students
across 68 departments and 16 institutes, schools and research centres.

Based in Tygerberg, just north of Cape Town, the university has
faculties of arts, community and health sciences, dentistry, economic and
management sciences, education, law, and natural sciences. UWC is dedicated to
the research and development of free and open-source software. It is the only
African member of the Open Courseware Consortium.       
Website: www.uwc.ac.za

University of the Witwatersrand

Based in Johannesburg, Wits University is one of the country's
leading research institutions, attracting students from across Africa. Wits has
produced more than 120 000 graduates across a range of disciplines since being
granted full university status in 1922.

The university, with about 28 000 students, offers degrees in the
faculties of engineering and the built environment; science; the humanities;
health sciences; as well as commerce, law and management. The highly regarded
Wits Business School is one of the oldest in South Africa.

Wits is also home to one of the largest fossil collections in the
southern hemisphere and its Institute for Human Evolution is dedicated to
palaeoanthropological research.       
Website: www.wits.ac.za

Comprehensive universities

University of Johannesburg

Established in 2005, the University of Johannesburg incorporates
the former Rand Afrikaans University, Technikon Witwatersrand, and Vista
University's Johannesburg campuses. It offers both technical and academic
programmes to around 50 000 students.

There nine faculties spread over five different campuses: art,
design and architecture; economic and financial sciences; education;
engineering and the built environment; health sciences; humanities; law;
management; and science.       
Website: www.uj.ac.za

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

The university, with its 25 000 students, has five campuses in
Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape and one in George in the Southern Cape. It
incorporates the former PE Technikon, University of Port Elizabeth, and Vista
University's Port Elizabeth campus.

As a comprehensive university, it offers vocational and
professional training across the faculties of arts; business and economic
sciences; education; engineering, the built environment and information
technology; health sciences; law; and science.       
Website: www.nmmu.ac.za

University of South Africa

Unisa is one of the largest open distance-learning institutions in
the world and has more than 300 000 students in 130 countries. Its roots
stretching back more than 130 years, a “new Unisa” was formed in 2004 when it
merged with Technikon SA and Vista University's distance education division.
Based in Pretoria, but with regional offices in all nine provinces, it offers
distance education programmes – both academic and technical.       
Website: www.unisa.ac.za

University of Venda

Established in 1982, the University of Venda for Science and
Technology is in Thohoyandou in Limpopo. It offers academic, professional and
career-focused programmes in the fields of education; environmental sciences;
agriculture; health sciences; human and social sciences; law; management
sciences; as well as mathematical and natural sciences.       
Website: www.univen.ac.za

University of Zululand

The University of Zululand is a rural-based comprehensive
university, with its main campus in Kwadlangezwa, just south of Empangeni, a
second campus in Richards Bay, as well as other off-campus centres. With just
under 9 000 students, it offers career- focused programmes and courses that
have been structured with potential employees and employers in mind. It has
four faculties: arts; commerce, administration and law; education; and science
and agriculture.       
Website: www.uzulu.ac.za

Walter Sisulu University

Billing itself as a “developmental university”, Walter Sisulu
University’s location in the Eastern Cape presents it with unique challenges
and opportunities. Since its 2005 merger with the former Border and Eastern
Cape technikons and the University of the Transkei, the university has around
20 000 students spread across its campuses in East London, Butterworth,
Queenstown and Mthatha.
It offers a range of degrees, certificates and diplomas in four
faculties (science, engineering and technology; health sciences; business,
management sciences and law; education). It hosts an MBChB programme in
Website: www.wsu.ac.za

Universities of technology

Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Incorporating the former Cape and Peninsula technikons, the
university is the largest in the Western Cape, with more than 32 000 students
on four campuses in and around Cape Town and a fifth in Wellington. CPUT
emphasises in-service training, which often comes in the form of a six-month
Website: www.cput.ac.za

Central University of Technology

Incorporating the former Technikon Free State and Vista
University's Welkom campus, the university is based in Bloemfontein. It has a
regional learning centres in Welkom and Kimberly in the Northern Cape. Almost
50 programmes are offered in three faculties: management sciences; engineering,
information and communication technology; and health and environmental
Website: www.cut.ac.za

Durban University of Technology

Incorporating the former ML Sultan and Natal technikons, the
university has major campuses in Durban and Pietermaritzburg as well as
satellite campuses in Umlazi. As a university of technology, DUT focuses on
applied research as well as on technological innovation.

It operates on five different campuses in Durban, and two in
Pietermaritzburg, offering tuition through its six faculties of accounting and
informatics; applied sciences; arts and design; engineering and the built
environment; health sciences; and management sciences. It also has a Business
Studies Unit.       
Website: www.dut.ac.za

Mangosuthu University of Technology

Mangosuthu University of Technology was established as a technikon
in 1979 by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, then the chief minister of KwaZulu, a
“homeland” created under apartheid. It is based in Umlazi, 25km from Durban.
Now a university of technology, it has 10 000 students studying in three
different faculties: management sciences, engineering, and natural sciences.       
Website: www.mut.ac.za

Tshwane University of Technology

Incorporating the former Northern Gauteng, North West and Pretoria
technikons, Tshwane University of Technology offers masters and doctoral
programmes in addition to degrees, certificates and diplomas. It has campuses
in four of South Africa’s northern provinces and annual student enrolment is
around 60 000 students. There are seven faculties: engineering and the built
environment; science; humanities; management sciences; information and
communication technology; arts; as well as economics and finance.    
Website: www.tut.ac.za

Vaal University of Technology

The university has around 21 000 students spread across its main
campus in Vanderbijlpark, 60km south-west of Johannesburg, and four satellite
campuses, which include the Sebokeng campus of the former Vista University. It
has four faculties: engineering and technology; applied and computer science;
human sciences; and management sciences.       
Website: www.vut.ac.za

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