University of South Africa

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The University of South Africa is a South African correspondence University.

It is best known today by its acronym, UNISA (also written Unisa, both pronounced you-nee-sah).

Origins and growth

Originally founded as the University of the Cape of Good Hope, it was renamed the University of South Africa in 1916, was created when the Molteno government passed Act 16 of 1873 in the Cape of Good Hope Parliament.

Modelled on the University of London, it offered examinations but not tuition, and had the power to confer degrees upon successful examination candidates. Initially an examining agency for Oxford and Cambridge universities, it became the incubator from which most other universities in South Africa are descended.

In 1946, it was given a new role as a distance education university and today it offers certificate, diploma and degree courses up to doctoral level.

In this guise it evolved into the largest university on the African continent and one of the world's mega universities. By 2014 it had a headcount of was over 300,000 students, attracting a third of all higher education students in South Africa, including African and international students in 130 countries worldwide.

UNISA was one of the key models looked at in the creation of Open University in England.


Wikipedia (2014) at

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