South Africa is home to countless towns and cities, each with their own unique flavour and personality. Over the next few weeks, we will be profiling the big, bustling cities of Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg and giving you the lowdown on what makes these cities tick and what they have to offer in terms of academic institutions.
Whether you’re planning a visit or relocating to start your university career in a new city, this series of posts will give you a little taster of what to expect in three of Mzansi’s favourite places. This week, it’s Jozi’s time to shine.
South Africa’s largest city and the economic engine of the country, Johannesburg (also known as Joburg or Jozi) is a dynamic, fast-paced urban centre with an interesting history and its own unique personality. The Greater Joburg area is home to some 8 million people and is one of the 50 largest urban areas in the world. With it’s roots in the gold rush of the late 1800’s, it is also known as Egoli, or The City of Gold, due to the significant gold deposits in the area.
As well as a vibrant energy and a diverse population, Joburg also boasts a number of quality tertiary education institutions.
University of the Witwatersrand
The University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) was initially founded in Kimberley in 1896 as the South African School of Mines. Following a move to Johannesburg in the 1900s, WITS established itself as one of the prominent public universities in the country and currently sits at number 3 in the South African rankings and 182 in the world rankings, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. WITS has upwards of 33,000 registered students across its 5 faculties, which are all located on the sprawling campus in Braamfontein, just outside the city centre. The university has a vibrant student life and offers excellent academic programmes and is also the proud home of the Wits University soccer team, current PSL champions.
University of Johannesburg
Also known as UJ, the University of Johannesburg was established in 2005 following the merger of Rand Afrikaans University, Technikon Witwatersrand and two of the Vista University campuses. Given this merger of a number of institutions, UJ is one of the largest comprehensive universities in the country with a student population of 50,000 of which 3,000 are international students from 80 different countries. The merger of different categories of tertiary institutions has also resulted in UJ offering standard under-grad and post-grad degrees, as well as National Diploma and B-Tech programmes. The university has 8 distinct faculties located across its 4 campuses and offers a wide range of sporting and cultural clubs and societies to students.
University of Pretoria
Although not located in Johannesburg, the University of Pretoria (UP) is another excellent tertiary institution that is worth a mention. A short-drive of roughly 65kms from Joburg, UP is South Africa’s second best university, according the the Times Higher Education University World Rankings. From its humble beginnings with just 32 students in the early 1900s, the university now has almost 50,000 full-time students registered across nine faculties. The Faculty of Veterinary Science at Onderstepoort is the only faculty of its kind in the country while UP’s business school, the Gordon Institute of Business Science, is ranked as one of the best in Africa.
Tshwane University of Technology
Also located in Pretoria, the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) has become the largest residential education institution in South Africa with upwards of 60,000 students registered across 7 faculties on 9 separate campuses. TUT confers National Diploma and B-Tech degrees. The university has a focus on the development of research and innovation capacity that is relevant to national and regional needs and prioritises building collaborative networks and partnerships.
Lifestyle and fun stuff
Joburg is a bustling, energetic city with plenty to offer. It is the economic centre of South Africa and Joburgers are known to work hard and play hard. Scratch the surface of this sprawling metropolis and you’ll discover a diverse and contrasting city, from the vibrant streets of Soweto to the high-end suburban shopping malls and the skyscrapers that dominate its unmistakable skyline. Although not a typical tourist destination like Cape Town or Durban, Jozi has a number of excellent museums, galleries and markets and the city’s once decaying and overpopulated centre is the focus of various urban renewal projects. It’s fast-paced but friendly and provides a fantastic snapshot of the rich cultural history and wonderful diversity of South Africa.
It has a reputation as a fast, dangerous city but Joburg is so much more than that. Make sure you visit to witness its energy first-hand!