University of Johannesburg

The University of Johannesburg is a public university located in Johannesburg, South Africa. The University of Johannesburg came into existence on 1 January 2005 as the result of a merger between the Rand Afrikaans University, the Technikon Witwatersrand and the Soweto and East Rand campuses of Vista University. Prior to the merger, the Daveyton and Soweto campuses of the former Vista University had been incorporated into RAU. As a result of the merger of Rand Afrikaans University, it is common for alumni to refer to the university as RAU. The Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UJ is Professor Tshilidzi Marwala. Between 2005 and 2017, UJ's Vice-Chancellor and Principal was Prof Ihron Lester Rensburg.
The newly emerged institution is one of the largest comprehensive contact universities in South Africa from the 26 public universities that make up the higher education system. UJ has transformed into a diverse, inclusive, transformational and collegial institution, with a student population of over 50 000, of which more than 3000 are international students from 80 countries.


Early developments

British Rule, 1900s
During the Johannesburg gold rush a number of training institutions were founded to supply skilled labour to the gold mines demands. One of those institutions was Witwatersrand Technical Institute, founded in 1903, with its roots in the Kimberly School of Mines. It eventually became Technikon Witwatersrand in 1979. This institute was based on the British system and the medium of instruction was English. Not only did its policies restrict access to white students only, but it also restricted admission to those who were well versed in the English language. In 2006, the property belonging to the Technikon Witwatersrand was sold by the University of Johannesburg, which had already absorbed the operations of the Technikon Witwatersrand at that stage.
Independence, 1960s
It would take more than half a century before the independence of South Africa from the British, that the newly elected National Party sought to provide education in the Afrikaans language, the third most spoken mother tongue language in South Africa. This led to the foundation of Rand Afrikaans University in 1966. At the time of its founding, RAU was the second university to be established in Johannesburg and it was established through an act of parliament as the academic hub for Afrikaners, establishing a standard of excellence. After the fall of Apartheid in 1994, African students started to become more involved in previously white institutions of higher education. RAU was no exception as for the first time in 1995, it had the largest number of African students in its ranks, followed by the University of the Witwatersrand, Rhodes University and the University of Cape Town.
In 1982, Vista University admitted the first black students in designated urban black settlements across South Africa.
It was established in Port Elizabeth. It had seven satellite campuses throughout South African townships, making tertiary education accessible to most African people, and it had its first academic year in 1983.

Recent history

It was envisioned that a modern university would spring from unification, and not separation, as it was enforced in the past. The University of Johannesburg, established on 1 January 2005, is the result of the incorporation of the East Rand and Soweto campuses of Vista University into the Rand Afrikaans University . The merger of the modified RAU and the Technikon Witwatersrand took place on 1 January 2005 thus creating the University of Johannesburg.
The integration of these institutions – with seemingly more differences that similarities, offers UJ a unique identity and character, which serves to bridge the chasms that previously divided South Africa. Indeed, no other university in South Africa truly represents the rainbow nation like UJ.
The incorporation and merger was part of a series of major programmes which restructured higher education in South Africa; a result of the National Plan for Higher Education. Consequently, this meant there was a reduction from 36 universities and technikons to 22 higher education institutions. South Africa now has 11 traditional universities, five universities of technology and six comprehensive institutions.
Logo and brand identity
The University of Johannesburg distinguishes itself from its previous institutions as a new, adaptable and progressive institution. Early on it was decided that UJ did not want a coat of arms and motto, as are custom with other tertiary educational institutions in South Africa. The administration decided rather to opt for a logo and brand identity. An internal competition was held where current students could put forward their proposals. In the interim, the previous motto of the Rand Afrikaans University "Diens Deur Kennis" was maintained.
The design by Joey Hifi was chosen as the official logo of the university. Present in the design are two hoopoos upupa africana. The hoopoo is the official mascot of the UJ Sports Bureau. The hoopoos are reflective of the "coming together" of two respective institutions and they form the outline or frame of a book, symbolic of education. The hoopoo is also symbolic of freedom, at various levels; personal and social, adaptability and change. The crowned feathers are symbolic of Africa.


UJ has four campuses: the Auckland Park Kingsway, Auckland Park Bunting Road, Doornfontein and Soweto campuses – all located in the metropolitan area of the City of Johannesburg.
The University comprises a built-up area in excess of 45,000m2 and the facilities available at the respective campuses include:
UJ owns an island in the Vaal River, formerly known as RAU Island.

Auckland Park, Kingsway

APK, is the largest and most populated campus of the University of Johannesburg. It is also the seat of the administration and governance body of the university. The campus was formerly the only educational campus of the Rand Afrikaans University. The campus gets its name from a major Johannesburg road, Kingsway Avenue, that runs along the north-east side of the campus. The roads that form the boundary of the campus are University Road, Ditton Avenue, Ripley Road, Hampton Avenue, Studente Avenue, Akademie Road and Perth Road. Although the official name of the campus implies that it is in Auckland Park, it actually falls just out of that suburb by one street. It is technically in the suburb of Rossmore with the first-year parking lot bordering the suburb of Melville, Gauteng.

Auckland Park, Bunting Road

The ABP was originally a campus of the Technikon Witwatersrand. Uniquely, the campus is an enclosed section of a suburb. The main thoroughfare of the suburb is Bunting Road. The name Bunting Road, according to the City of Johannesburg archives is derived from a subspecies of bird and not the decorative banner it is currently associated with. It houses the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture.


The East Rand Campus was temporarily closed halfway through 2007 pending proposed redevelopment of the campus, provisionally planned for reopening in 2009.

Organisation and administration

The Senate is the body responsible for academic matters at the University and is mainly made up of full professors and heads of departments. By law, the Senate is accountable to the University’s Council for all the teaching, learning, research and academic functions of the institution and all other functions delegated or assigned to it by the Council.
The UJ Senate currently comprises about 250 members under the chairperson-ship of Vice-Chancellor Prof Tshilidzi Marwala. The Registrar is the Secretarial of the UJ Senate.
The UJ's main shareholder is the Department Of Higher Education and Training - which at the present moment is led by Minister Blade Ndzimande

Academic profile

Admission and registration

As it is a common practice with all South African universities, South African applicants to the University of Johannesburg are required to apply in advance for admission into their preferred course by no later than the end of September. Therefore, prospective South African matriculants must apply for their preferred course of study before the completion of their matric year. As of 2013, the University of Johannesburg has adopted a "no walk-in" policy and therefore, prospective and current students are required to apply for admission and complete their registration online.
International students have to comply with a specialised admission process and must apply for admission into their preferred course by no later than the end of September.
Registration for undergraduates and postgraduates takes place before the commencement of the academic year. New registrations for qualifying matriculants takes place in January shortly after the matric results are released.

Teaching and degrees

Undergraduate teaching takes place over the duration of four terms or two semesters during the course of the year. Some subjects are taught throughout the duration of the year known as year-long subjects and other subjects are taught over the course of two terms or one semester. Some subjects have prerequisites such as a requirement for a student to complete a specific course or subject/s before they are permitted to continue with a related subject.
The teaching terms usually coincide with Gauteng public school terms though can change as the university administration sees fit.
Undergraduate programme
Once a high school student has passed their Matric examinations obtaining an NQF level 5 qualification and meeting the minimum requirements of their chosen undergraduate programme the student may pursue a Bachelor's degree, Advanced Diploma, Post Graduate Certificate or B-tech which are set to be completed within three years for most faculties however, there are sometimes options to extend ones undergraduate programme usually by an extra year. Once a graduate has passed all of the requisite modules for their degree, the graduate will obtain a degree certificate with all the rights and privileges conferred on them by the university in accordance with the National Qualifications Framework.
The University of Johannesburg also offers undergraduate Higher Certificates and Advanced National Certificates as well as National Diplomas and Advanced certificates which usually require fewer than three years to complete.
Graduate programme
Once an undergraduate has obtained their undergraduate Bachelor's degree, Advanced Diploma, Post Graduate Certificate or B-tech, the undergraduate may wish to pursue further education and research by obtaining a post-graduate degree. The South African Qualifications Authority is a statutory body, regulated in terms of the National Qualifications Framework Act that governs the National Qualification Framework where an undergraduate may progress to further levels of education. The highest level the university may confer on a student is an NQF level of 10, also known as a PhD. The progression from one NQF level to the next after obtaining a bachelor's degree, advanced diploma, post-graduate certificate or B-tech is the following:
There are many opportunities for students studying at the University of Johannesburg to receive financial support. One of the primary methods in which a student may receive financial support is as a result of a students academic performance at the end of their matriculation year. This type of financial support is known as an academic merit bursary that is only awarded to students who observe the stringent "M-score" academic requirements of such support. The academic merit bursary offers up to 100% payment of tuition fees and an additional stipend amount to qualifying applicants.
An alumni bursary is offered to qualifying postgraduate students that may be applied for in the applicants respective faculty offices. Postgraduate students may apply for funding through the National Research Foundation that offers up to 100% payment of tuition fees and an additional stipend amount to qualifying applicants.
Alternative funding includes applying for funding through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme as well as through applying for funding through external sponsorship bursaries.

Rankings and reputation

Libraries, collections and museums

The University of Johannesburg has a large research compendium, with researchers in various fields of expertise and research focus areas. The university has 176 rated researchers, six of whom are NRF "A-rated" researchers, internationally recognised in their fields of expertise.
Research centres
Below is a list of all the research centres at the University of Johannesburg with information regarding their efforts, breakthroughs and other information where applicable.
Research focus areas
Below is a list of the spread of the NRF rated researchers per faculty as at April 2013.
The University of Johannesburg is composed of eight distinct faculties.

Art, Design and Architecture

The Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture offers programmes in eight creative disciplines, expanding these fields beyond their traditional boundaries through internal and external collaborations. It has a strong focus on sustainability and relevance, and engages with the dynamism, creativity and diversity of Johannesburg in imagining new approached to art and design. Equipped with state-of-the-art, custom-built facilities, the faculty is staffed by highly regarded academics, designers and artists. FADA's research focus areas include Visual Identities in Art and Design, which explores visual expressions of identity as a specialised area of knowledge and expertise in art and design research; and the Design Society Development DESIS Lab, which is a multi-disciplinary community of practice that seeks to better understand how design can best serve the emerging needs of broader society, specifically in the face of staggering inequality and rapid change in Gauteng, South Africa.
FADA is home to the following departments:
The University of Johannesburg's College of Business and Economics was launched on 1 July 2017. The college emerged from the former Faculty of Management and the former Faculty of Economic and Financial Sciences, since the university's ambition and ability to drive socio-economic transformation aligns well with global best-practice in business and economics education.
The College of Business and Economics is strategically positioned in Johannesburg to be at the centre of regeneration in Africa through socio-economic transformation.
The college continues to offer a range of exciting programmes, enhancing the profile of management education in Africa, as well as globally, contributing to the University of Johannesburg's vision of promoting Pan-Africanism.
The new structure enables the combination of substantial and well-established programmes serving both the private and public sector which will enhance the synergies that exist amongst the various disciplines in the legacy faculties.


The faculty of Education's research focus areas include ecologists of learning to ecologists of practice, learning to be a teacher – towards learner outcomes in schools, discourse and performative practice of teachers in language literacy and communication, keystone species in the science and mathematics classrooms of two schools, teachers building practice as community counselors, teachers and tools: crafting technology education in practice, teacher identity and the culture of schools, Information and communication technology in schools, Values and human rights in education, and aggression in secondary schools in South Africa.

Engineering and the Built Environment

The faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment's research focus areas include civil engineering materials research, chromium steels, control and image processing, industrial electronics technology, manufacturing, mineral processing and technology, optical communications, process optimization of thermodynamic systems, small-scale mining and minerals, speech and signal processing, telecommunications, unmanned aerial vehicles, water research.
The faculty of Health Sciences' research focus areas include Laser Research, optometrics science, Water and Health Research. There is also a big department for sport studies which includes sport psychology, sport management, sport communication, sport development and sport science. It houses the following departments :
The faculty of Humanities' research focus areas include social development in Africa, sociological research, culture and languages in Africa, African-European studies, and the study of democracy.


The faculty of Law's research focus areas include the study of economic crime, private international law in Africa, banking law, international law in Africa, international and comparative labour and social security law, and sport law.


The faculty of Science's research focus areas include nanotechnology, energy and sustainable development, aquatic eco-toxicology, and economic geo-metallurgy.
The faculty currently has 11 departments: Academy of Computer Science and Software Engineering; Biochemistry; Biotechnology and Food Technology; Botany and Plant Biotechnology; Chemical Sciences; Geography, Environmental Management & Energy Studies; Geology; Physics; Pure and Applied Mathematics; Statistics; and Zoology.

Traditions and student activities

The University of Johannesburg has a Students' Representative Council referred to as the UJSRC, as well as an SRC for each of the four campuses. The UJSRC consists of eight members, two members per campus, and they are elected by the student bodies of each campus. The UJSRC represents all UJ students, addressing issues and concerns which are of relevance to the whole student body. Each individual campus has its own Campus SRC which is elected from members of that particular campus' student body. The powers and functions of Campus SRCs are delegated to them by the UJSRC and Campus SRCs consist of ten members.

Media and societies

The University of Johannesburg has a radio station that airs on its campuses called UJFM which aims to reflect the demographics of the university by airing content that is relevant to the target market. In April 2010, UJFM moved to the Bunting Road Campus where it has access to more professional, state of the art equipment. UJFM operates on a frequency of 95.4FM.
The university also has its own student newspaper, the UJ Observer. The purpose of the paper is to act as a communication medium for the student community with the goal of providing information to the student community, investigating issues of importance to the student community, and reflecting debates about current affairs on the various campuses of the university. The UJ Observer also offers journalism students a practical platform to learn and develop journalistic and managerial skill sets. However, students do not necessarily have to be journalism students to be a members of the UJ Observers editorial team. The paper operates on all of the campuses of the University of Johannesburg.
Students interested in taking part in charity events can do so via UJ's RAG committees, which are voluntary student organizations that raise funds and take part in community relief efforts. It is a tradition at UJ to host a RAG Week during the opening week of the academic year, in which events like musical performances, beauty competitions, fun days and float processions take place to generate funds. However, RAG committees operate throughout the academic year in various activities.
Registered students have the option to take part in societies at UJ which are divided into four broad kinds of society: academic societies, political societies, religious societies and social societies.

Athletics, sport, arts and culture

Athletics and sport
The university offers many different kinds of sport:

  • Cricket
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Hockey
  • Judo
  • Karate
  • Netball
  • Rowing
  • Rugby
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Squash
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Triathlon
  • Volleyball
  • Water polo
  • As with the former RAU, rugby is a large focus of many students. UJ's competitive sport is regulated by the UJ Sports Bureau. Sport education is regulated by the Faculty of Health Science and Department of Sport and Movement Studies.
    UJ has made a name for itself excelling in athletics, hockey, basketball and rowing particularly. 2008 Olympic representative Juan Van Deventer was at the time a student. Several players who competed for the South Africa national basketball team at the 2011 African Basketball Championship in Madagascar were UJ Alumni.
    UJ has numerous sporting venues:
    Arts and culture
    The University of Johannesburg has an arts centre, comprising a 436-seat theatre, an art gallery and rehearsal studios where the UJ Arts Academy rehearses. This academy consists of the University of Johannesburg Choir, the UJ Drama Company, the UJ Dance Company and the UJ Song and Dance Company.



    UJ enrolled 43,630 undergraduates and 6,280 graduate students in 2011. Women constituted 55 percent of the total student headcount.
    Residence life
    The Student Accommodation & Residence Life division is mainly responsible for the accommodation of approximately 19000 students in both university owned and managed residences as well as off-campus accredited privately owned accommodation.
    This is a vast division with 35 residences, including the seven day houses, spread over four campuses at the University of Johannesburg.
    Off-campus accommodation's accredited properties are within 2 km of each campus and where they are beyond the prescribed radius; the set condition is that service providers are obliged to provide transport. Additionally, inter-campus transportation is provided for all students residing in off-campus residences and houses. The university offers to all students, a list of accredited off-campus accommodation.
    CampusJunior female residencesJunior male residencesMixed residenceSenior residence
    Auckland Park Campus Karibu Jamil ResidenceAfslaan ResidenceSophiatown ResidenceThomas Sankara
    Auckland Park Campus Magnolia ResidenceMaqhawe Residence-Melrose Place
    Auckland Park Campus Mosate Heights ResidenceCornerstone Mens Residence--
    Auckland Park Campus Lebone ResidenceOppierif Residence--
    Auckland Park Campus Impumelelo Residence---
    Bunting Road Horizon ResidenceMajuba Residence-Broadcast Court
    Bunting Road Panorama Residence--Goudstad Flats
    Doornfontein Gauta ResidenceAkanani Residence-Habitat Residence
    Doornfontein Phumlani ResidenceKopano Residence--
    Doornfontein -Robin Crest Residence--
    Soweto YWCA Ladies' Residence Ulwazi Ladies Residences YMCA Men's Residence Hector Peterson

    Faculty and staff

    The University of Johannesburg has numerous alumni and faculty members distinguished in their respective fields.
    Literature, music, and drama
    Science and mathematics
    Notable events
    In 2011 the university decided to suspend ties with Israeli Ben-Gurion University, citing the University's support for the Israeli military. The decision was seen to affect projects in biotechnology and water purification.
    However, two days later, Ihron Rensburg, vice-chancellor and principal of the university issued a statement saying that "UJ is not part of an academic boycott of Israel...It has never been UJ's intention to sever all ties with BGU, although it may have been the intention of some UJ staff members."