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Wits – A leading research University in Africa

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Posted on 29 March 2012 by Gaurav Malik

The University of the Witwatersrand, also known as Wits, is one of Africa’s leading research universities, ranked in the top 400 universities in the world. It celebrates 90 years of academic excellence, research distinction and social leadership in 2012.

Internationally accredited programmes

The vibrancy of its academic endeavours is reflected in the more than 3 000 courses that it offers in English across five faculties and 34 Schools: Commerce, Law and Management; Health Sciences; Humanities; Science; and Engineering and the Built Environment.

Its internationally accredited programmes are offered from the Bachelors level upwards. Almost 65% of all its doctoral candidates and about half of all its enrolments are in the Science, Engineering and Technology fields.

A research leader on the continent

A leading research University, Wits is home to five Centres of Excellence, seven research institutes, 20 research units, 10 research groups, 15 prestigious South African Research Chairs and dozens of endowed chairs.

Wits is currently establishing six prestigious multidisciplinary research institutes which will seek  to produce highly specialised forms of knowledge to tackle the challenges of the  21st Century in the following areas: The Evolutionary Sciences; Global Change and Sustainability; Mining; Molecular Biosciences; Development: Population, Health and Society and Cities.

Global graduates

Wits has developed over 130,000 graduates in its 90 years of existence, including four Nobel laureates and the 91 Rhodes Scholars.

Wits graduates have made and continue to make their mark in South Africa and around the world. The University has served as the foundation for entrepreneurs, activists, social scientists, leading business and legal stalwarts, musicians, artists, scientists, engineers, doctors and sportspersons.

Research shows that 90% of Wits graduates find permanent employment  within a year, after graduation.

World-class facilities

A diverse institution, Wits is home to over 2 000 international students who hail from more than 80 different countries, speaking over 130 languages. Students can choose to join over 100 clubs and societies and can visit 14 museums, including the Wits Art Museum, the Planetarium, the Origins Centre, the Wits Theatre Complex and the Life Sciences Museum.

The University’s library system comprises two main libraries and 14 divisional libraries. Students have access to over 1,000,000 book volumes; 400,000 journal titles and 50,000 new electronic resources.

The University can accommodate about 20% of its students in 18 residences. A new world-class residence complex, the Wits Junction, was opened in 2011.

The University has in recent years undertaken an ambitious infrastructure development and renewal programme to renovate buildings and to upgrade existing facilities to world-class standards.


“Renowned for its academic and research excellence, Wits contributes to the global knowledge economy and local transformation through generating high level, scarce skills and innovative research.

At the forefront of a changing society, Wits is an engaged institution, dedicated to advancing the public good. It fosters intellectual communities and promotes sustainable social and economic development in a globally competitive environment.” Prof. Loyiso Nongxa, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Wits University

Quick Facts

  • A socially engaged University committed to academic and research excellence, with a strong social leadership reputation
  • Located in Johannesburg, the economic heartland of Africa
  • Home to about 30 000 students serviced by 6 200 staff members of whom 3 900 are academic
  • Over 250 buildings spread across seven campuses – 18 residences can accommodate about a fifth of the student population
  • Boasts five Centres of Excellence in Biomedical Tuberculosis Research, Strong Materials, Aerospace, Advanced Drug Delivery Technologies and  Viral Gene Therapy

International Office

The Wits International Office facilitates agreements for exchange programmes, assists international staff and students and serves as a hub for  foreign students.  Wits welcomes applications from international students – about a tenth of its student population are international students, over half are female and a third are postgraduates.


Ms Samia Chasi: Manager, International Partnerships

Wits International Office

Private Bag x3, University of the Witwatersrand, 2050, South Africa

Tel: +27 (0)11 717 1054

Fax: +27(0)11 717 1059

Email: studysa.international@wits.ac.za

Website: www.wits.ac.za

WITS Building

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