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Universities in South Africa have over time made and sustained their marks on the African continent. Apart from being among the best in the continent, South African universities are among the largest universities in Africa. In fact, the single largest university in the continent is the University of South Africa.

University of South Africa: History

The University of South Africa (Unisa) began in 1873 as the University of the Cape of Good Hope. In its earliest times, the university was an examining center for Oxford and Cambridge universities. In 1918, the university was created as an examining university alongside the University of Cape Town and the University of Stellenbosch, which were teaching universities.

It grew to a distant learning degree offering institution in 1946 and in 1973 its Muckleneuk campus was established. From that year it began to offer certificate, diploma, and bachelors as well as postgraduate degrees to doctoral level.

Unisa merged with Technikon Southern Africa and Vista University in 2004. With that, it became the continent’s largest distance learning institute and one of the largest in the world.

Structure of University of SA

The university has three campuses: Muckleneuk Campus, Sunnyside Campus and the Florida Campus. While the Muckleneuk and Sunnyside campuses are in Pretoria, the Florida campus which is the university’s science campus is located in Johannesburg.

Also, the university has seven regional centers. The centers are

  • Eastern cape
  • Guateng
  • Kwazuku-Natal
  • Limpopo Province
  • Midlands
  • Mpumalanga
  • Western Cape

The centers stand to serve all areas in the nine provinces of the country.

The institution has eight colleges. They are in Agricultural Sciences and Environmental Sciences, Accounting Sciences, Economic and Management Managements Sciences, Education, and Graduate Studies. Others are Human Sciences, Law, Science, Engineering and Technology as well as the university’s Graduate school of Business Leadership.

University of SA, as it is called, has various bureaus, as well as centers, institutes, museums and units to promote its education targets. The university also provides for both vocational and academic progrmmes. Most of the programmes have been accredited internationally.

With broad courses, the university is home to close to 400 thousand students. The students are drawn from South Africa and other African countries, as well as from other parts of the world. The courses offered by the students include in both diploma and undergraduate certificates as well as postgraduate programmes.

Among the notable alumni of the university are South Africa’s finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan; the country’s vice president, Cyril Ramaphosa; and the former president of the country, Nelson Mandela.

In 2013, the university celebrated its 140 years in existence

Study in Uni SA

Application into the University of South Africa’s undergraduate programmes for 2017 session is open from 1st September 2016 to 21st October 2016. Under the undergraduate qualifications are higher certificates, diplomas, bachelor degrees, BTechs, as well as the PGCE.

Application into the university’s undergraduate programmes can be done online on the university’s website.

Also, one can apply for postgraduate courses for the 2017 session on the website of the university.  This include for MTech, as well as master’s and doctoral programmes.

The application date for the 2017 postgraduate programs into the University of South Africa is from 12th September to 11th November 2016.

Short learning programmes are also offered by the university. These non formal qualification programmes are provided for by the university across its different schools.

Through its Directorate for Students Funding, the university provides study loans and bursaries for students. The loan and bursaries provided by the university are available to financially needy and academically deserving students.

Some of the provided bursaries and loan services are available to undergraduate students while others are available to postgraduate students.

Other South African Universities

South Africa has for a long time been a heavy weight in university education in Africa. This has motivated by the fact that over 19% of the country’s expenditure is channeled towards education. Of this, over 12% is spent on higher education.

Most of the country’s universities keep emerging among the top in university rankings in the continent. Among the universities in South Africa are: University of Johannesburg, Stellenbosch University, University of the Witwatersrand and University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Between mid and late 2016, South African universities have been caught in a widespread protest. The protests have been as a result of the government’s attempt to increase tuition fee by 8%.


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