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South Africa's Universities

 South Africa's universities are leading the way in Africa. The country's 23 public higher education institutions were restructured to offer a range of study and research options for both local and international students. The restructuring focused, and in some cases reconfigured, the programmes on offer at South Africa's universities - which previously still reflected the structure and priorities of the old apartheid-based system. The restructuring also brought in comprehensive universities, a new type of institution designed to cater for the merger of some universities with former "technikons". Comprehensive universities offer a broad range of degrees, diplomas and certificates, and will help widen access to tertiary education in the country. Here's a quick rundown of South Africa's 23 universities, in alphabetical order:



Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Incorporating the former Cape and Peninsula technikons, the university is the largest in the Western Cape, with over 25 000 students on two main campuses, in Bellville and Cape Town.

The university's IT Centre is the largest of its kind in Africa, housing 1 400 computers, various laboratories, a state-of-the-art video conference room and lecture theatre, and two e-business rooms.

Central University of Technology

Incorporates the former Technikon Free State and Vista University (Welkom campus). Although the language of instruction is English, the university plans to offer parallel instruction in Afrikaans and Sesotho. Over 100 courses are offered in three faculties: management; engineering, information and communication sciences; and health and environmental sciences.

The university is based in Bloemfontein and has a number of centres that can provide research and other technological services to private companies, particularly smaller businesses. This fits in with the university's vision of engaging with its community and providing its students with opportunities for experiential learning.

Durban University of Technology

Incorporates the former ML Sultan, Natal and Mangosuthu technikons, as well as the former University of Zululand (Umlazi campus). The university has major campuses in Durban and Pietermaritzburg as well as satellite campuses in Umlazi.

Mangosuthu Technikon

Mangosuthu Technikon is a modern higher education institution offering superior quality, technologically advanced programmes and services in engineering, natural sciences and management sciences to almost 10 000 students.

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

Incorporates the former PE Technikon, University of Port Elizabeth and Vista University (Port Elizabeth campus). The university has more than 20 000 students and about 2 000 staff members spread across eight campuses in the Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape and George in the Western Cape.

North West University

North West University has more than 45 000 students spread over four campuses, offers parallel instruction in Afrikaans, English and Setswana - and is experimenting with simultaneous instruction on its Potchefstroom campus.

Rhodes University

Situated in the Eastern Cape town of Grahamstown, Rhodes University has a 100-year history of academic excellence. Perhaps best known for its journalism department, Rhodes has around 500 academic staff and 7 000 students.

Stellenbosch University

Situated in the wine-growing region of Stellenbosch, 60km from Cape Town, Stellenbosch University is one of South Africa's leading research institutions.

The university's Centre for Invasion Biology, a Department of Science and Technology centre of excellence, studies the impact of invasive plant species on southern Africa's agriculture, biodiversity and ecotourism.

The university has four campuses: the main campus at Stellenbosch, the health sciences faculty at Tygerberg Hospital, the business school in Bellville, and military sciences faculty in Saldanha.

Tshwane University of Technology

Incorporating the former Northern Gauteng, North West and Pretoria technikons, the university offers over 180 programmes, some of these unique to the institution, such as sport and exercise technology, equine studies, medical orthotics and prosthetics, and environmental management.

The university offers masters and doctoral programmes in addition to degrees, certificates and diplomas, and boasts more postgraduate students than any other South African university of technology.

University of Cape Town

South Africa's oldest university, founded in 1829, 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 one of the top research institutions on the continent, with more "A" rated scientists than any other South African university. According to National Research Foundation criteria, "A" rated scientist are "leading international scholars in their field [known] for the high quality and impact of their recent research outputs".

The university is home to Groote Schuur Hospital, where the world's first heart transplant took place in 1967.

University of Fort Hare

Fort Hare, dating back to 1916, is the oldest historically black university in the country. It has been the academic home of many of South Africa's most prominent leaders, including Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Govan Mbeki, and Mangosuthu Buthelezi. In 2005, the university was awarded the Order of the Baobab - SA's highest civilian honour - for its contribution to the country's leadership.

Fort Hare has three Eastern Cape campuses, in Alice, Bhisho and East London. The university offers a range of degrees and diplomas in its faculties of education, science and agriculture, social sciences and humanities, management and commerce, and at the Nelson Mandela School of Law.

University of Johannesburg

Incorporating the former Rand Afrikaans University, Technikon Witwatersrand and Vista University (Johannesburg campuses), the university offers both technical and academic programmes for around 45 000 students. The university has built a new School of Travel and Tourism on its Auckland Park campus, at a cost of about R70-million.

University of KwaZulu-Natal

Incorporating the former Durban-Westville and Natal universities, the university covers five campuses in Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

University of Limpopo

Formerly the University of the North, which was home to many prominent anti-apartheid activists of the 1970s and '80s. Situated in South Africa's northern Limpopo province, the university provides training in three faculties: humanities; management sciences and law; and sciences, health and agriculture.

University of Pretoria

Officially established in 1930 - but with roots stretching back to the founding of the Normal College for teacher training in 1902 - the university is one of South Africa's largest, with almost 40 000 students, including over 2 000 international students from 60 countries.

The university's Gordon Institute of Business Science, established in Johannesburg in 2000, has already earned an international reputation, while its faculty of veterinary science at Onderstepoort is the only one of its kind in South Africa.

University of South Africa

Incorporating the former Unisa, Technikon SA and Vista University (distance education), the Pretoria-based University of South Africa offers distance education programmes - both academic and technical - to students across the country and the region.

The university's Centre for African Renaissance Study is an interdisciplinary research institution with a mandate to develop outward to the whole of Africa and diasporic Africa.

University of the Free State

Established in 1904, the university is home to around 20 000 students, 16 000 on the main Bloemfontein campus and 3 000 enrolled in the university's distance and internet learning programmes.

University of the Western Cape

Originally established in 1959 as an ethnic college for "coloured" students, the university has grown into an internationally recognised institution, providing facilities for over 12 000 students across 68 departments and 16 institutes, schools and research centres.

University of the Witwatersrand

Situated in Johannesburg, Wits University is one of the country's leading research institutions. A cosmopolitan campus close to the city centre, Wits attracts a large number of students from across Africa. Since full university status was granted in 1922, Wits has produced more than 100 000 graduates across a range of disciplines.

The university offers degrees in the faculties of engineering and the built environment, humanities, health sciences, science and commerce.

Wits hosts the Department of Science and Technology's Centre of Excellence in Strong Materials, the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, and the Wits Business School.

University of Venda

The University of Venda for Science and Technology, situated in Thohoyandou in Limpopo, offers career-focussed programmes in the fields of health, agriculture and rural development; humanities, management sciences and law; and natural and applied sciences.

University of Zululand

Based in KwaDlangezwa, the university positions itself as the leading local, rurally based comprehensive institution offering career-focussed undergraduate and postgraduate education, including wide ranging research opportunities.

Vaal University of Technology

The university has around 15 000 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.

Walter Sisulu University

Incorporating 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. The university offers a range of degrees, certificates and diplomas in 11 faculties, and hosts an MBChB programme in Mthatha.


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