University of South Africa

University of South Africa (UNISA) is the largest university system in South Africa by enrollment, attracting a third of all higher education students in the country.

The University of South Africa (UNISA), originally established as the University of the Cape of Good Hope (UCGH), boasts a rich and intricate history, spanning over a century of academic excellence and transformative impact on South Africa's higher education landscape.

In 1873, the UCGH emerged as a beacon of higher education, granting degrees to students throughout the British colonies in southern Africa. Initially serving as an examining body for the prestigious universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the UCGH played a crucial role in establishing academic standards and fostering intellectual pursuits in the region. As South Africa underwent political and social transformations, the UCGH evolved alongside the nation's changing landscape. In 1916, the university shed its colonial ties and adopted the name "University of South Africa" (UNISA), reflecting its commitment to serving the newly formed Union of South Africa.

UNISA's defining moment arrived in 1946 when it pioneered tertiary distance education, a revolutionary approach that democratized access to higher education for individuals across vast geographical distances and diverse backgrounds. This bold move transformed UNISA into a leading provider of distance learning, catering to a growing demand for higher education opportunities.

UNISA's legacy extends beyond its own academic achievements. Throughout its history, UNISA has served as an incubator for numerous other South African universities. As constituent colleges matured and gained autonomy, they emerged as independent institutions, shaping the nation's higher education landscape. UNISA's contributions to South Africa's social and economic development are also noteworthy. The university has consistently championed inclusivity and access, empowering individuals from marginalized communities to pursue higher education and contribute to the nation's growth.

Today, UNISA stands as a leading open distance learning institution, offering a comprehensive range of undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications across a diverse spectrum of disciplines. The university's commitment to academic excellence remains unwavering, attracting students from across South Africa and beyond. With a strong track record of innovation and adaptability, UNISA continues to embrace technological advancements to enhance its distance learning offerings and expand access to quality education. The university's online learning platforms and virtual learning environments provide students with flexible and engaging learning experiences, catering to their diverse needs and lifestyles.

The University of South Africa's legacy is deeply intertwined with the nation's educational and social progress. Through its unwavering commitment to academic excellence, its pioneering role in distance learning, and its contributions to fostering inclusivity, UNISA has earned its place as a cornerstone of South Africa's higher education landscape. As the university continues to navigate the ever-evolving educational landscape, it remains steadfast in its mission to empower individuals and transform lives through the transformative power of education.

University of South Africa is ranked as the #8 top university in South Africa during 2024. The rank decreased by 1 point from last year.

University Profile

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2024 Ranking #8
University Name University of South Africa
Acronym UNISA
Year Established 1873
Motto Pro Gentibus Sapientia
Motto in English Learning in Service to Humanity


The university is located in Pretoria, Gauteng. Find the address and map of the university below.

Address Preller Street Muckleneuk, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa


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Phone +27 (11) 670 9000
Website University of South Africa Website
Email Click here to send email
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Programs and Courses

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Bachelor's Degrees Master's Degrees Doctorate Degrees Diplomas
Arts & Humanities n/a n/a
Business & Social Sciences n/a n/a
Engineering n/a n/a n/a n/a
Language & Cultural Studies n/a n/a
Medicine & Health n/a n/a
Science & Technology n/a n/a

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Ranking History

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Admission Info

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International Students Allowed Yes
Student Body Men and Women

Scholarship and Financial Aids

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