The University Of South Africa (UNISA); which was founded in 1873 is not just the largest open distance learning institution in Africa, but the oldest operational dedicated distance education university in the world.

In 1946, the university became the first public dedicated distance education university in the world. The university was one of the few institutions in South Africa to provide education for all; regardless of race or colour, even during the years of Apartheid.

UNISA History

The history of this university is a unique one which has lasted a life time. The history begins in 1873; when the University of the Cape of Good Hope was established. Eventually in 1918, a number government university bills were passed; creating three universities, two teaching universities (the University of Cape Town and the University of Stellenbosch) and one examining university (UNISA).

1918 was also the year the University of the Cape of Good Hope was incorporated into UNISA. In 1946, the External Studies division was established by Prof AJH van der Walt and trials in correspondence learning began. In 1959, the university became a fully fledged correspondence university.

In 1973, the university’s Muckleneuk Campus was established. There was also an increase in the use of radio, audio and video cassettes; as the university embraced technologies to bridge the distance between the university and its students.

In 2013, the university marks a monumental achievement as the university celebrates its 140th anniversary.

UNISA Courses & Degrees

The university offers a range of study choices, ranging from short courses and certificate programmes, to three and four year degrees and diploma.

  • Short Learning Programmes

The university offer contact-taught and distance certificate courses, for example; in Teaching English as a Foreign Language to Adults, Business Writing Skills and an introduction to creative writing (poetry only). Some of these courses are intended for beginners.

Undergraduate degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Arts in creative Writing

Honours degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts Honours in English Studies

Master’s degrees

  • Master of Arts in English Studies (Full Dissertation)
  • Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

Doctoral degrees

  • Doctor of Literature and Philosophy in English

UNISA Application

There are various application options when planning to study with the university, the options include:

  • Undergraduate higher certificates, diplomas & degrees.
  • Honours degrees & postgraduate diplomas
  • Master’s & doctoral degrees, and
  • Short Learning Programmes

All applications for admission must be submitted online or via a self-help terminal at a UNISA Regional Office during the prescribed application period (hard copy applications will only be accepted for non-degree purposes).

Furthermore, applicants who plan to enrol for classes at a Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College under the UNISA-TVET agreement may apply via the relevant TVET College, or at UNISA via the online or self –help options.


My UNISA is an online platform on the university’s website where enrolled students get all they need regarding their studying affairs, scholarships, the UNISA Radio and lots more.

Most importantly, this platform aims at giving tips and information to students regarding what they need to do to succeed at the university, advice on planning studies, ways to connect with the university, how to prepare for exams and how to study.