The University of the Witwatersrand: Your Complete Guide

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Located in the heart of Johannesburg, South Africa, the University of the Witwatersrand, or WITS, is known for its academic excellence and innovation. Founded in 1896, WITS has grown into one of Africa's top research universities, famous for its dedication to learning, community involvement, and transformative education. This article provides a detailed look at WITS, including its history, academic programs, facilities, and useful information for future students.

History and Legacy

The University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) started as the Kimberley School of Mines in 1896 in Kimberley, South Africa. It was created to meet the growing need for skilled workers in South Africa's booming mining industry, especially in diamond and gold mining. The school focused on technical education in fields like mining engineering, metallurgy, geology, and mine surveying. It quickly became known for its practical education and its role in training professionals crucial to the mining sector. As South Africa grew economically and socially, the need for broader educational opportunities arose. Responding to this, the Kimberley School of Mines expanded and moved to Johannesburg in 1904, which was becoming the country's economic and cultural centre due to its mining activities. By 1906, the school started offering courses in science and engineering beyond mining, recognizing the importance of diverse scientific and technical education for the country's development.

In 1922, it was officially established as a university and named the University of the Witwatersrand, or WITS. This was a key moment in its history, marking its place as a leading higher education institution in South Africa. The university grew to include various faculties such as humanities, commerce, law, health sciences, and the arts, along with its strong science and engineering programs. Throughout its history, WITS has significantly influenced South Africa's intellectual and social development. It has educated many leaders, thinkers, and professionals who have contributed to the country's progress in various fields, advocating for equality, justice, and positive change.

WITS is known for its academic excellence, research innovation, and community involvement, making it one of Africa's top universities. It attracts a diverse group of students, faculty, and researchers, creating an environment that fosters critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. The transformation from the Kimberley School of Mines to a comprehensive university shows WITS' ability to adapt to South Africa's changing needs and its ongoing dedication to education, research, and societal impact.

Chancellors and Leadership

Throughout its history, WITS has been guided by visionary leaders who have steered its course with distinction. The university's chancellors have included eminent figures from various fields, each contributing their expertise and commitment to advancing WITS' academic mission.

 Former Chancellors of Wits University

- Prince Arthur of Connaught (1922-1938)

- Jan Hofmeyr (1939-1948)

- Richard Feetham (1949-1961)

- Oliver Deneys Schreiner (1961-1975)

- Bertrand Leon “Birch” Bernstein (1975-1982)

- Aanon Michael “Mike” Rosholt (1983-1997)

- Richard Goldstone (1996-2007)

- Dikgang Moseneke (2012-2018)

Awards and Achievements

WITS has garnered numerous accolades for its academic prowess, research contributions, and societal impact. It consistently ranks among the top universities in Africa and has earned international recognition for its research output and innovative programs.


The University of the Witwatersrand is ranked #244 among the Best Global Universities. This ranking reflects the institution's performance based on a comprehensive set of widely recognized indicators of excellence. It is frequently ranked within the top universities in Africa and continues to enhance its reputation on the world stage.

 Open Days and Campus Visits

WITS regularly hosts open days and campus tours to provide prospective students with an opportunity to explore its facilities, meet faculty members, and learn about its academic programs. These events offer invaluable insights into life at WITS and help applicants make informed decisions about their educational journey.

 Why Choose WITS?

Prospective students are drawn to WITS for its academic excellence, diverse community, and vibrant campus life. The university offers a stimulating environment where students are encouraged to question, innovate, and engage critically with global issues.

Facilities and Departments

WITS boasts state-of-the-art facilities across its multiple campuses, equipped with modern amenities to support teaching, research, and student life. Its faculties and departments span a wide range of disciplines, including:

- Humanities

- Science and Engineering

- Commerce, Law, and Management

- Health Sciences

- Built Environment

Each department is staffed by esteemed academics who are leaders in their respective fields, ensuring a rigorous and intellectually stimulating educational experience.

Courses Offered

WITS offers a diverse array of undergraduate and postgraduate programs designed to cater to the interests and career aspirations of its students. From arts and humanities to science and technology, the university provides opportunities for specialization and interdisciplinary study.

 Minimum Admission Requirements

 Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission to the University. The University has a limited number of places for first-year undergraduates, as approved by the Department of Higher Education and Training. Final selection depends on the availability of places, academic results, and other entry requirements.

To be considered for entry into any of the five faculties, applicants must have:

- A National Senior Certificate (NSC) from the Department of Basic Education (DBE), the Independent Examinations Board (IEB), or the South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI).

- Certain levels of achievement and a Bachelor’s degree pass.

- Completion of any additional Faculty or School requirements, if applicable.

Application Process

Prospective students can apply to WITS online through its dedicated admissions portal. The application process typically involves submitting an online application form, academic transcripts, standardized test scores (if applicable), and any other required documentation.

Click here to apply WITS Applications

-          You can apply for up to three programmes, and the order of choice does not matter.

-          Ensure you meet the admission requirements for your chosen degree.

-          Submit your application before the closing date.

-      Use your full names as they appear on your ID book/card or passport (avoid using initials or nicknames).

-      If you are applying for two programmes within the same Faculty, consider also applying for one programme in a less restricted Faculty (such as Humanities, Commerce, or Science) to keep your study options open, especially for programmes in faculties like Health Sciences or Engineering.

-          Do not specify the duration of the programme; you are applying for the first year of study.

  In line with the POPI Act, applicants must complete their own applications and accept the University's legal declaration of indemnity and undertaking. The University will not engage with third-party agents facilitating applications on behalf of applicants.

Documents Required

Upload your supporting documents at the time of application. Alternatively, you can upload them after submitting your application via the student self-service portal at

- Current Matrics: Upload your final Grade 11 results (no hard copy required).

- Already Matriculated: Upload certified copies of all your matric certificates or foreign school leaving certificates.

- Other Tertiary Institutions: Upload a certified copy of official academic records for all tertiary registrations, including a statement or certificate of good conduct stamped by the institution’s registrar. (Interim, self-service generated results will be accepted for initial assessment purposes for GEMP applicants only).

Closing Dates

- 30 June: Faculty of Health Sciences (all programmes), Bachelor of Architectural Studies, Bachelor of Audiology, Bachelor of Speech-Language Pathology, BA Film and TV

- 30 September: All other University programmes

- 30 September: Residence applications

Application Fee

An application fee of R100 for South African citizens and R700 for foreign citizens is required. Log into the self-service portal to make payments before the closing dates, and use only your Person Number or T Number as the reference.


At Wits, the residences serve as both living and learning centres. They offer a wide variety of accommodation options, including single-gender residences, catering residences, and mixed-gender residences.


Residence students can take a Wits bus from the main campus to all nearby campuses, and enjoy free weekend buses to Rosebank shopping mall.

 Contact Details

For more information about WITS, including admissions inquiries, campus tours, and academic programs, prospective students can contact:

- Website: WITS website

-  Tel: +27 (0) 11 717 1888

- Email:

The University of the Witwatersrand stands as a bastion of academic excellence and innovation in Africa, offering students a transformative educational experience and a gateway to a world of opportunities. Whether pursuing undergraduate or postgraduate studies, WITS provides the ideal environment to grow intellectually, professionally, and personally, preparing students to make meaningful contributions to society and thrive in a globally interconnected world.


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