University of the Witwatersrand

University of the Witwatersrand, commonly known as Wits University or Wits, is a public research university situated in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, South Africa.

The University of the Witwatersrand, affectionately known as Wits University or simply Wits, traces its roots to the South African School of Mines, established in Kimberley in 1896. The school was founded to address the growing demand for skilled mining engineers and metallurgists in the wake of the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand, a region south of Johannesburg. In 1904, the school was relocated to Johannesburg and renamed the Transvaal Technical Institute. Two years later, it gained university college status and became known as the Transvaal University College. In 1910, the institution was renamed the South African School of Mines and Technology, reflecting its expanded scope beyond mining education.

In 1921, the university received full university status and was officially named the University of the Witwatersrand. This marked a significant milestone in the institution's development, granting it the authority to award degrees in a wider range of disciplines. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the university experienced rapid growth, expanding its academic offerings and establishing new faculties, including the faculties of Medicine, Dentistry, and Arts. The university also played a crucial role in the development of Johannesburg, contributing to the city's transformation into a major economic and cultural hub.

During World War II, the University of the Witwatersrand played a vital role in the Allied war effort. Faculty members and students made significant contributions to research and development, particularly in the fields of radar and medicine. The post-war era brought continued growth and development for the university. The institution expanded its physical footprint, constructed new buildings, and established new research facilities. The university also became increasingly involved in social and political issues, becoming a vocal critic of the apartheid regime.

The period of apartheid in South Africa (1948-1994) was a challenging time for the University of the Witwatersrand. The university was subjected to government interference and restrictions, and its students and staff were often at the forefront of anti-apartheid activism. Despite these challenges, the university remained a bastion of academic excellence and social justice. It continued to attract talented students and faculty from around the world, and its graduates played a leading role in the struggle against apartheid.

The advent of democracy in South Africa in 1994 marked a new chapter for the University of the Witwatersrand. The university embraced the challenges and opportunities of the new era, working to transform itself into a truly inclusive and representative institution. The university has made significant strides in promoting equity and diversity, and it has become a leading center for research and innovation in Africa. The university is also committed to addressing the challenges facing South Africa, such as poverty, inequality, and disease.

Today, the University of the Witwatersrand stands as a leading university in Africa and a global institution of higher learning. With its rich history, strong academic reputation, and commitment to social justice, the university is well-positioned to continue to make a significant impact on the world.

Based on the QS World University Rankings of 2024, University of the Witwatersrand is positioned as the #264 top university in the world, which makes it the #2 top university in South Africa.

University Profile

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2024 Ranking #2
University Name University of the Witwatersrand
Acronym WITS
Year Established 1922
Motto Scientia et Labore
Motto in English Knowledge and Labour
Colors Blue and yellow


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Address Private Bag 3, Wits, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Phone +27 (11) 717 1000
Fax +27 (11) 717 1065
Website University of the Witwatersrand 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 n/a
Engineering n/a n/a
Language & Cultural Studies n/a n/a n/a n/a
Medicine & Health n/a n/a
Science & Technology n/a n/a

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Admission Info

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International Students Allowed Yes
Student Body Men and Women

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