South Africa has 26 public universities which are distributed within all nine provinces of South Africa.
Each province has at least one university, with Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape provinces having just acquired its own institutions during 2014/2015.
Pretoria is home to as many as five universities, despite its relative size (2.1 million people), when compared to Johannesburg (9.4 million), and Cape Town (3.7 million).
Cape Town has three universities, housing the best university in South Africa and Africa at large, which is UCT. Cape Town has an additional university nearby in Stellenbosch.
Johannesburg is serviced by three universities, while Bloemfontein and Durban each have two.
South Africa’s universities accommodate in excess of 1 million students, with plans by the South African government to add 500,000 to that total by 2030.
A tally of the most accurate figures shows that 25 of the 26 schools have a combined total exceeding 622,000.
That said, what is the largest university in South Africa?
The largest university in South Africa in terms of student population is the University of South Africa (UNISA) with over 400,000 students.
The country’s universities are divided into the following categories:
- 9 universities of technology focused on vocationally oriented education;
- 6 comprehensive universities offering a combination of academic and vocational diplomas and degrees;
- 11 traditional universities offering theoretically oriented university degrees.
The table below lists the public universities in SA and their student population.
|University||Location||No. of students|
|University of South Africa (UNISA)||Pretoria||400,000|
|University of Pretoria||Pretoria||50,000|
|Tshwane University of Technology||Pretoria||50,000|
|University of Johannesburg||Johannesburg||48,500|
|University of KwaZulu-Natal||Durban and Pietermaritzburg||40,000|
|University of the Free State||Bloemfontein||33,000|
|Cape Peninsula University of Technology||Cape Town||33,000|
|University of the Witwatersrand||Johannesburg||32,703|
|University of Stellenbosch||Stellenbosch||30,150|
|University of Cape Town||Cape Town||26,322|
|Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University||Port Elizabeth and George||26,000|
|Walter Sisulu University||East London and Mthatha||25,000|
|Durban University of Technology||Durban and Pietermaritzburg||25,000|
|University of Limpopo||Turfloop and Pretoria||20,000|
|Vaal University of Technology||Johannesburg||17,000|
|University of Zululand||Empangeni||16,100|
|University of the Western Cape||Tygerberg, Cape Town||15,200|
|Central University of Technology||Bloemfontein||13,534|
|University of Fort Hare||Alice and East London||12,000|
|University of Venda||Thohoyandou||12,000|
|Mangosuthu University of Technology||Umlazi, Durban||10,000|
|Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University||Pretoria||5,060|
|University of Mpumalanga||Mbombela||140|
|Sol Plaatje University||Kimberley||135|