University of South Africa
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University of South Africa: Pioneering 150 years of accessible and sustainable education globally

For over 150 years, the University of South Africa (Unisa) has been a pillar of accessible education in South Africa. Throughout its history, Unisa has transformed itself to meet the evolving needs of the country and the global educational landscape. Today, it stands as a leading comprehensive, open distance and e-learning (CODeL) university, offering a wide array of qualifications to students across the globe.

Unisa’s story began in 1873 at the University of the Cape of Good Hope, initially serving as an examining body. In 1946, it became one of the first public universities worldwide to offer education solely through distance learning. This pioneering approach removed geographical barriers, making high-quality education available to a wider audience than ever before.

Today, Unisa’s reach extends far beyond South Africa’s borders. With offices nationwide and students from over 100 countries, it has a truly global presence. Whether you’re a recent high school graduate or a working professional seeking to upskill, Unisa offers a pathway to your career and life goals.

Unisa’s “green” Science Campus in Johannesburg is just as forward-looking as its programmes. Designed with energy efficiency in mind, the campus mixes sustainable practices into every aspect of its construction, from the concrete to the bicycle parking areas.

This state-of-the-art facility houses cutting-edge laboratories equipped with high-end technology, empowering scientific education and research at a national level. It features 12 buildings, a library, auditoriums, and expansive study areas, catering to the needs of both undergraduate and postgraduate students. The modern amenities not only boost learning but also attract international scholars and researchers to collaborate on many projects.

University of South Africa

The Unisa Science Campus is home to top-notch labs and cutting-edge equipment, elevating science education and research nationwide. Source: University of South Africa

Cultivating knowledge in agriculture and environmental sciences

Within Unisa, the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences offers many qualifications in various fields, including agricultural, environmental, life, and consumer sciences. With its well-equipped laboratories, the college provides an ideal environment to not only gain theoretical knowledge but also apply it through practical experience.

The college comprises two schools: School of Agriculture and Life Sciences and School of Ecological and Human Sustainability. The former delves into plant and animal agricultural sciences, agricultural economics and extension, animal health, agribusiness, human physiology, biochemistry, and more. The latter focuses on the relationship between humans and the environment, encompassing nature conservation, ornamental horticulture, landscaping, environmental management, and environmental monitoring.

Unisa’s dedication to inclusive education is underscored by the diverse range of qualifications offered. These include diplomas in Agricultural Management, Nature Conservation, and Ornamental Horticulture, alongside advanced diplomas in Animal Health. Bachelor’s degrees are available in fields like Consumer Science (Food and Nutrition, Hospitality Management), Agricultural Science (Animal Science, Plant Science), Environmental Management Botany, and Life Sciences Psychology and Physiology (with Genetics).

University of South Africa

Unisa hosts over 370,000 students, making it the largest university in South Africa and Africa, and one of the world’s mega-universities. Source: University of South Africa

Engineering the future

Unisa’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) aspires to develop future-oriented African leaders in science, engineering, and technology. To that end, CSET provides students with an enabling environment to advance their knowledge in these fields, ensuring their skills are not only nationally relevant but also globally competitive.

CSET prioritises affordability, accessibility, and high-quality education, ensuring its programmes remain relevant on both national and global scales. In recognition of its excellence, Times Higher Education World University Rankings placed Unisa’s engineering programmes first in South Africa (jointly) in 2022.

To ensure graduates are industry-ready, the School of Engineering works closely with industry professionals, accreditation bodies, and other institutions of higher learning, such as the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA), the South African Geomatics Council (SAGC), the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP), the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM), and more. This collaboration ensures Unisa students are fittedwith the necessary skills to excel in the engineering field. 

Highly qualified instructors deliver the curriculum and students are assessed through credible processes to guarantee the quality of their education. The School of Engineering’s continuous assessment approach provides students with ongoing opportunities to engage with the material and receive feedback.

Such diverse teaching cultivates graduates with 21st-century skills. They possess strong problem-solving abilities, can effectively apply scientific and engineering knowledge, and excel in design, investigations, and data analysis. What’s more, the programme emphasises engineering methods, skills, and the use of information technology. The result? Students graduate with strong communication skills, an understanding of sustainability, and the ability to work effectively both independently and collaboratively.

Unisa’s focus on providing accessible, high-quality education makes it an attractive option for students seeking to broaden their horizons. Whether your passion lies in agriculture, environmental sustainability, or engineering, Unisa offers a pathway to success.

Learn more about Unisa.

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