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University of the Witwatersrand

Region: Johannesburg Country: South Africa

About The University
The origins of Wits lie in the South African School of Mines, which was established in Kimberley in 1896 and transferred to Johannesburg as the Transv l Technical Institute in 1904, becoming the Transv l University College in 1906 and renamed the South African School of Mines and Technology four years later.

Wits University is a centre for higher education and research of the highest quality. Its long history and reputation has been built on promoting the freedom of enquiry and the search for knowledge and truth. It continues to enhance its position as a leading research intensive university in South

Full university status was granted in 1922, incorporating the College as the University of the Witwatersrand, with effect from 1st March. Seven months later the inauguration of the University was duly celebrated. Prof. Jan Hofmeyr became its first principal. Construction began at Milner Park on a site donated to the University by the Johannesburg Municipality.

The University had, at that stage, six faculties (Arts, Science, Medicine, Engineering, Law and Commerce), 37 departments, 73 members of academic staff and little more than 1 000 students. The period between 1947 and the 1980s was marked by considerable growth ? student numbers increased rapidly to 6275 in 1963, 10600 in 1975 and 16400 by 1985.

The acquisition of additional property in adjacent areas became imperative. The medical library and the administrative offices of the Faculty of Medicine moved to a new building in Esselen Street, Hillbrow during 1964. The Graduate School of Business was established in Parktown in 1968. In 1969 the Ernest Oppenheimer Residence was formally opened in Parktown. Also in 1969 the clinical departments in the new Medical School were opened. The Medical School moved premises once again and is now situated in York Street, Parktown. Expansion into Br mfontein also took place when, in 1976 Lawson?s Corner, renamed University Corner, was acquired. Senate House, the University?s main administrative building, was occupied in 1977.

In the 1960s, the University acquired the Sterkfontein site, which has world-famous limestone caves, rich in archaeological material, and has subsequently been declared a World Heritage Site.

In 1968 the neighbouring farm, Swartkrans, also a source of archaeological material, was purchased. In the same year, the University acquired excavation rights in caves of archaeological and palaeontological importance at Makapansgat in the area now known as the Limpopo province. The Wedge, a building formerly owned by the National Institute of Metallurgy, was taken over by the University in 1979.

The Milner Park showgrounds were acquired in 1984 from the Witwatersrand Agricultural Society and renamed West Campus. In 1989, the Chamber of Mines Building for the Faculty of Engineering on the West Campus was inaugurated, and the brick-paved AMIC deck was built across the M1 motorway to link the East and West Campuses.

Since 2000, Wits has been implementing expansion and modernisation plans across different areas of the campus. Many of these address the physical, academic and technological infrastructure and processes necessary to implement the new streamlined faculties and schools, while others cater for the large growth in student numbers since the start of the decade. The delivery of excellent customer service and the provision of more leisure and convenience facilities to students and staff have also been an important part of these plans.

The main library, the Wartenweiler, underwent a major revamp. This modernisation exercise resulted in the traditional model of a library being dramatically altered by the installation of ICT connectivity and knowledge commons (group learning areas) throughout the entire building.

During 2002 the School of Oral Health moved into a new state-of-the-art facility within the Johannesburg General Hospital. The space they vacated was revamped to accommodate the Wits School of Arts. This beautiful space now accommodates the disciplines of Fine Arts, Dramatic Arts, History of Arts and Music. International House, a residence catering mainly for the burgeoning international student population, was opened in 2003.

Yale Road has been upgraded from an erstwhile municipal road to become a softer and greener university space. A student mall, the Matrix, houses 26 leisure and convenience outlets. The Student Enrolment Centre, based in Senate House, welcomed the 2003 registration cohorts. All education entities are based at the new Education Campus (formerly the Johannesburg College of Education). The Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre (formerly the Kenridge Hospital) has been extensively upgraded to serve as an academic teaching hospital. It officially opened during 2004.

Mission - Changing your Future by Challenging your Mind
The fundamental role of any university is to promote freedom of enquiry and the search for knowledge and truth. Wits has built a reputation for itself in this role, establishing itself at the industrial and commercial heart of South Africa as a centre for education and research of the highest quality. Wits?s mission is to build on this foundation in a way that takes account of its responsibilities within South Africa today; and to maintain and enhance its position as a leading university in South Africa, in Africa, and in the world by sustaining globally competitive standards of excellence in learning, teaching and research.

Universities have the immense responsibility of producing cutting edge research, generating knowledge, producing high-calibre leaders and critical thinkers for the future, and reaching out to the communities in which they are located.

Wits University is proudly fulfilling that role both in Africa and on the international stage. It is catering for the changing needs of a democratic South Africa and, from its location in the heart of Gauteng, reflects and celebrates its diversity of cultures.

Its outstanding academic reputation and sustained stance against social injustice has earned it the respect of the international community and has attracted international students and researchers. This century we will continue redressing historical injustices, thereby providing new and fulfilling opportunities for black students and attracting and retaining the best black staff in the sector.

We will build increasingly close relationships with the private sector, and the public sector professions in seeking sponsorship of research projects, research students, joint appointments of staff, and joint programmes of research that contribute to economic and academic development.

We will have a selective approach to research development, concentrating on areas of actual and potential international excellence, as well as new collaborations with top universities in Europe and the US. Our student-centred learning will be sensitive to the needs, views and lives of students.

We will strive for transformation in the context of an unswerving commitment to academic standards. We will continue to produce outstanding graduates armed with the confidence to serve this continent at the highest level, and to contribute to the international context, in which South Africa is taking its place as a leading democracy.

Guiding Principles
The University of the Witwatersrand is committed to transparency and accountability and thus supports giving access to information to those who need this information but does this within the principle that students, staff and the University have rights to protection and privacy. Thus the decisions about giving access to any information will always consider the rights of those affected by this access.

The University has specific procedures for giving access to information about staff and students and are detailed in the policy document below.

Wits Today

Wits, one of Africas premier research universities strives to be innovative, where boundaries of knowledge are pushed and where the focus is on sustaining globally competitive standards of excellence in learning, teaching and research.

Wits Facts

Wits has a reputation built on research and academic excellence. Wits is one of only two universities in Africa ranked in two separate international rankings as a leading institution in the world and is the only university in the country that features in the top 1% in the world in seven defined fields of research according to the 2007 ISI international rankings. Wits is also the recipient of the highest levels of external financial support of all universities in the country, from donors and partners all over the world - testimony to the high esteem in which we are held internationally.

Faculty of Health Sciences

The Faculty of Health Sciences offers professional undergraduate degrees in Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy. Training is offered with practical experience in five major hospitals in Johannesburg as well as several rural hospitals, the state of the art Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre and various clinics.

Through its partnership with the Gauteng Health Department, Wits employs over 800 medical and dental consultants who are involved in teaching undergraduates and postgraduates and in the research programmes. Approximately 500 students graduate in these professions each year.

Vision Statement

The Faculty of Health Sciences at Wits University, acknowledging its role in the training of health professionals, in furthering knowledge through research and its responsibility to be relevant and responsive to the health needs of the communities it serves, and of the country, will be

  • The Faculty of Health Sciences of choice for undergraduate, postgraduate and professional training particularly in the South African and sub-Saharan context, offering modern and relevant curricula and facilities, with national and international reputations
  • The Faculty of highest reputation in South Africa for scholarship in health sciences teaching, research and clinical service
  • A Faculty with which staff are proud to be associated, and in which they can thrive
  • A Faculty with a supportive, efficient, effective and service-oriented administration
The University of the Witwatersrand Library plays a major role in Southern Africa both in the provision of information for study and research, and in the preservation of rare and beautiful materials which record the heritage of our country and its peoples. Always one of the highlights for visitors to the campus, the Library offers a "walk" through the history of information, from the beautiful collections of incunabula, early printed books and rare manuscripts to the astonishing resources of the Internet and the global information village.

The WITS Library has always been proud of its special collections, and although it has not been possible to add substantially to these in recent years, they remain among the best of their kind in South Africa. The Africana Collection, based on generous bequests and purchases of collectors Gubbins, Humphreys and Jeffreys, contains rare and exquisitely illustrated volumes on the flora, fauna and exploration of southern continent of Africa, including the work of travellers such as Burchell, Daniell, Le Vaillant and Barrow. The collections of paintings and rare antique maps of Africa never fail to delight and fascinate the visitor.

More recent but equally interesting is the material housed in the Historical and Literary Papers department. Much of it dealing with early days of trade unions, political trials, and organisations and people banned during the apartheid years, this collection depicts an intriguing and sometimes horrifying social history and contains documents and information entrusted to Wits and unavailable elsewhere. For researchers in the social sciences it is a paradise.

No library today can hope to provide from its own collections all the information required by its users, and this is especially so of a library serving a university of high repute, producing research and graduates acknowledged and respected internationally. Wits Library keeps abreast of the new technology, is linked by network to other libraries throughout the country, and via the Internet to information resources worldwide. Teaching students how to access and utilise electronic information is an important function of the Library, and the electronic classroom, the first of its kind in South African libraries, provides fascinating insight into modern information retrieval techniques.

There are two main libraries (Wartenweiler and Cullen), and fourteen branch libraries which make up the University of the Witwatersrand Library. Rare source materials, specialist collections, use of up-to-date technology, and a team of enthusiastic and dedicated staff all combine to form a library which serves the staff and students of the University, contributes towards the research needs of the country, and is one of the best academic libraries in southern Africa.

The Faculty of Science of the University of the Witwatersrand has ten Schools: two in the Biological Sciences, two in Earth Sciences, four in the Mathematical Sciences and two in the Physical Sciences. Most researchers in these Schools and their associates are internationally recognized and are involved in cutting edge research.

The Faculty of Science contributes to specific University Research Thrusts in Biodiversity, HIV/AIDS, Evolution of the Species and National Heritage, Materials Science and Engineering, and Mineral Resources, Exploration and Mining. A In addition, it contributes to the development of other emerging priority research areas such as Bioinformatics and Molecular Biosciences.

The Faculty participates in two of the DST-NRF Centres of Excellence launched in 2005, namely in Strong Materials (which is also housed at Wits) and Catalysis (hosted as a national centre by UCT). In addition, members of the Faculty have been active in several national/regional initiatives surrounding, for example, biotechnology, nanoscience and nanotechnology, biofuels, supercomputing and informatics, paleontology, A geosciences/mining and the mathematical sciences. The Faculty has in addition the Gauteng hub of the National Institute for Theoretical Physics located in the School of Physics.

The Faculty continues to be the leading Faculty in terms of research outputs at the University, producing 34.6% of the University's publications and 32.3% of the post-graduates outputs (3 year rolling average) in 2005.


By choosing to do your science degree at WITS, it shows that you have made the correct career choice. The Faculty of Science at WITS can lay claim to rank amongst the top Science faculties in the country. It has an excellent track record in teaching and research, with highly qualified educators and excellent scientists. Our courses and qualifications are comparable with the best in the world. As one of five faculties on this campus we offer courses and degree programs in the basic sciences at all levels, ranging from baccalaureate through doctorate.

At the undergraduate level, we offer programs in the physical sciences (Chemistry, Physics), the mathematical sciences (Computational and Applied Mathematics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Mathematical Statistics and Actuarial Science), the biological sciences (Ecology, Environmental and Conservation, Plant Sciences, Zoology, Molecular and Cell Biology), the earth sciences (Geosciences, Geography, Archeology and Environmental Studies) as well as programs of an interdisciplinary nature that unify many of these areas.

As WITS students, I will encourage you to continue your dedication to excellence in your studies, but I shall also caution you to balance your life as a student. The integrated nature of science will ensure that you integrate your university life as well, and make life-long friendships. I trust that you will find your studies at the Science faculty both enjoyable and stimulation.

University of the Witwatersrand Degree Programs :


  • Bachelor Degree
  • MBBS
  • Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy
  • Master Degree
  • MD Anaesthesiology
  • MD Anatomy
  • MD Biochemistry
  • MD Community Medicine
  • MD Dermatology
  • MD Emergency Medicine
  • MD General Medicine
  • MD Microbiology
  • MD Paediatrics
  • MD Pathology
  • MD Pharmacology
  • MD Physiology
  • MD Psychiatry
  • MD Radiodiagnosis
  • MD Skin & V.D
  • MD TB & Chest Diseases
  • MS Anatomy
  • MS ENT
  • MS General Surgery
  • MS Ophthalmology
  • MS Orthopaedics


  • Bachelor Degree
  • BDS


  • Bachelor Degree
  • Bachelor of Science (Nursing)


  • Bachelor Degree
  • B.Pharm. (Bachelor of Pharmacy)


  • Bachelor Degree
  • Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy

Health Sciences

  • Bachelor Degree
  • Bachelor of Health Sciences

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University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Contact Details

Address: 1 Jan Smuts Avenue, Braamfontein 2000, Johannesburg, South Africa


27 (0)11 717 2545/ 2097

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