List of universities in South Africa

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Location of South Africa

This is a list of universities in South Africa. For the purposes of this list, colleges and universities are defined as accredited, degree-granting, post-secondary institutions. As at September 2019 only South African public degree-granting institutions may call themselves a “university”, whereas other accredited private for-profit or not-for-profit degree-granting institutions tend to call themselves colleges, institutes or business schools.[1]

Some of these private institutions are local campuses of foreign universities. Degree-granting institutions (both public and private) must be registered with, and have their specific degree programs accredited by, the Council on Higher Education.

In 2004 South Africa started reforming its public higher education system,[2] merging and incorporating small public universities into larger institutions, and renaming all higher education institutions “university” (previously there had been several types of higher education institution). The country’s universities and “technikons” which were incorporated with others and thus no longer exist are listed at the end of the article.

Two new universities launched in 2013,[3] Sol Plaatje University and the University of Mpumalanga. They are tentatively classified in the universities of technology category, pending clarification of their programs.

Public universities

Public universities in South Africa are divided into three types: traditional universities, which offer theoretically-oriented university degrees; universities of technology (“technikons“), which offer vocational oriented diplomas and degrees; and comprehensive universities, which offer a combination of both types of qualification.[4][5]

Traditional universities

InstitutionNicknameFoundedUniversity statusUndergradPostgradTotalLocation(s)Medium
University of Cape TownIkeys / UCT1 October 1829[6]2 April 1918[6]18,42110,65329,074Cape TownEng
University of Fort HareUFH / Blues1916[7] 9,0742,00011,074Alice, East London, BhishoEng
University of the Free StateKovsies / UFS28 January 1904[8]1950[9]21,1935,08226,275[10]Bloemfontein, QwaQwaEng
University of KwaZulu-NatalUKZN / Natal / Impi1 January 20041[11]1 January 2004[11]33,45613,06446,520 (2016)[12]Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Pinetown, WestvilleEng
University of LimpopoTurfloop1 January 20051[13]1 January 2005[13]17,2733,32720,600Polokwane, TurfloopEng
North-West UniversityNWU / Pukke / Eagles1 January 20041[14]1 January 2004[14]43,5963,23544,008Mafikeng, Mankwe, Potchefstroom, VanderbijlparkAfr (Potchefstroom campus) Eng (Mafikeng campus) Setswana (Vaaldriehoek campus)
University of PretoriaTuks / Tukkies / UP[15]4 March 1908[16]10 October 1930[17]35,942212,541248,483[18]Pretoria, Johannesburg3[19]Eng
Rhodes UniversityRhodes / RU31 May 1904[20]10 March 19515,4561,1276,700GrahamstownEng
Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University4SMU (formerly MEDUNSA)16 May 2014[21]16 May 2014  6,410 (2018)[22]Ga-Rankuwa, PretoriaEng
University of StellenboschMaties, Stellies1866[23]2 April 1918[23]17,970 [24]9,85327,823Stellenbosch, Saldanha Bay, Bellville, TygerbergEng
University of the Western CapeUWC / Bush / U Dubs1959[25]1970[25]11,8363,39015,226Bellville (Cape Town)Eng
University of the WitwatersrandWits, Witsies1896[26]1922[26]24 621[27]13 234[27]38 353[27]JohannesburgEng

Note1: By merger of existing institutions

Note2: Exact and current numbers not available, these numbers are from the University of Pretoria’s wiki.

Note3: The university’s business school the Gordon Institute of Business Science has a campus in Illovo and an inner-city campus on Pritchard Street, in downtown Johannesburg.

Note4: Split out from the University of Limpopo into which Medical University of South Africa had previously merged.

Comprehensive universities

University of JohannesburgUJ1 January 20051 (1967 as RAU, Technikon Witwatersrand and the East Rand campus of Vista University)  >50,000[28]Johannesburg, SowetoEng
Nelson Mandela UniversityMadibaz / NMMU1 January 20052 (1964 as UPE)19,7682,88422,652Port Elizabeth, GeorgeEng
University of South AfricaUnisa1873 (UCGH)  300,000Distance education, headquartered in Pretoria, campuses and regional offices nationwideEng
University of VendaUniven1982  10,968ThohoyandouEng
Walter Sisulu UniversityWSU/ALL BLACKS1977 (Unitra)  32,081 (2018)[29]East London, Butterworth, Mthatha, QueenstownEng
University of ZululandUniZulu19606,4563696,825EmpangeniEng

Note1: By merger of existing institutions
Note2: By merger of existing institutions

Universities of technology

InstitutionNicknameFoundedUniversity statusUndergradPostgradTotal (2011)Location(s)Medium
Cape Peninsula University of TechnologyCPUT/Cats200512005  32,000Bellville, Cape TownEng
Central University of TechnologyCUT/Ixias1981   9,933Bloemfontein, WelkomEng
Durban University of TechnologyDUT200212002  23,000Durban, PietermaritzburgEng
Mangosuthu University of TechnologyMUT19792007   UmlaziEng
University of Mpumalanga 20132013   MbombelaEng
Sol Plaatje UniversitySPU20132013   Kimberley, Northern CapeEng
Tshwane University of TechnologyTUT/Vikings200312003  60,000Pretoria, Mbombela, Polokwane, Ga-Rankuwa, Soshanguve, WitbankEng
Vaal University of TechnologyVUT19662003  17,000Vanderbijlpark, Secunda, Kempton Park, Klerksdorp, UpingtonEng

Note1: By merger of existing institutions

Private degree-granting seminaries, Institutes and colleges

Theological seminaries

Two Oceans Graduate InstituteTOGI2017 Registered private higher education institutionCape Town/Online InstitutionEng
Auckland Park Theological SeminaryATS  Theological seminaryJohannesburgEng
Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa 1951 Theological seminaryJohannesburgEng
George Whitefield College 1989 Theological seminaryCape TownEng

University rankings

League tables of South African universities are largely based on international university rankings, because there have not as yet been published any specifically South African rankings.

University research collaboratives

Defunct institutions

Bond South AfricaSandton 2004[30]Now Varsity College, part of IIE
Border Technikon  2005Now part of Walter Sisulu University for Technology and Science
University of Bophuthatswana   Now part of North-West University
University of the Cape of Good HopeCape Town18731916Renamed University of South Africa
Cape Technikon   Now part of Cape Peninsula University of Technology
University of Durban-WestvilleDurban19721 January 2004[11]Now part of University of KwaZulu-Natal
Eastern Cape Technikon 19942005Now part of Walter Sisulu University for Technology and Science
Medical University of South AfricaGa-Rankuwa19761 January 2005[13]Now part of University of Limpopo
Technikon Natal   Now part of Durban University of Technology
University of the NorthPolokwane19591 January 2005[13]Now part of University of Limpopo
University of NatalPietermaritzburg, Durban19101 January 2004[11]Now part of University of KwaZulu-Natal
University of North-West, formerly the University of BophuthatswanaMafikeng 1 January 2004[14]Now part of North-West University
Port Elizabeth Technikon.Port Elizabeth, George1882[31]2005Now part of Nelson Mandela University
University of Port ElizabethPort Elizabeth31 January 19642005Now part of Nelson Mandela University
Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher EducationPotchefstroom29 November 18691 January 2004[14]Now part of North-West University
Rand Afrikaans UniversityJohannesburg19672005Now part of University of Johannesburg
Technikon SA  1 January 2004[32]Now part of University of South Africa
Transvaal University CollegeJohannesburg, Pretoria19061910/1930Predecessor of the University of Pretoria and the University of the Witwatersrand. The University of the Witwatersrand was named the Transvaal University College from 1906 to 1910. The University of Pretoria was established as the Pretoria branch of the Transvaal University College in 1908 and retained that name until 1930.
University of TranskeiTranskei19772005Now part of Walter Sisulu University for Technology and Science
University of GazankuluGiyani??Probably distributed between the University of Venda and the University of Limpopo
Vista UniversityMulti-city campus university19812004/2005Now merged with the Nelson Mandela University, the University of the Free State, the University of Johannesburg, the University of Pretoria, the University of South Africa and the Vaal University of Technology.
Technikon WitwatersrandJohannesburg19252005University of Johannesburg