University of the Witwatersrand

The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, is a multi-campus South African public research university situated in the northern areas of central Johannesburg. It is more known as Wits University or Wits; the university has its roots in the mining industry, as do Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand in general. Founded in 1896 as the South African School of Mines in Kimberley, it is the third oldest South African university in continuous operation; the university has an enrolment of 40,259 students as of 2018, of which 20 percent live on campus in the university's 17 residences. 63 percent of the university's total enrolment is for undergraduate study, with 35 percent being postgraduate and the remaining 2 percent being Occasional Students. The 2017 Academic Ranking of World Universities places Wits University, with its overall score, as the highest ranked university in Africa. Wits was ranked as the top university in South Africa in the Center for World University Rankings in 2016. According to the CWUR rankings, Wits occupies this ranking position since 2014.

The university was founded in Kimberley in 1896 as the South African School of Mines. It is the third oldest South African university in continuous operation, after the University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University.. Eight years in 1904, the school was moved to Johannesburg and renamed the Transvaal Technical Institute; the school's name changed yet again in 1906 to Transvaal University College. In 1908, a new campus of the Transvaal University College was established in Pretoria; the Johannesburg and Pretoria campuses separated on 17 May 1910, each becoming a separate institution. The Johannesburg campus was reincorporated as the South African School of Mines and Technology, while the Pretoria campus remained the Transvaal University College until 1930 when it became the University of Pretoria. In 1920, the school was renamed Johannesburg. On 1 March 1922, the University College, was granted full university status after being incorporated as the University of the Witwatersrand; the Johannesburg municipality donated a site in Milner Park, north-west of Braamfontein, to the new institution as its campus and construction began the same year, on 4 October.

The first Chancellor of the new university was Prince Arthur of Connaught and the first Principal was Professor Jan Hofmeyr. Hofmeyr set the tone of the university's subsequent opposition to apartheid when, during his inaugural address as Principal he declared, while discussing the nature of a university and its desired function in a democracy, that universities "should know no distinctions of class, race or creed". True to Hofmeyr's words, from the outset Wits was an open university with a policy of non-discrimination on racial or any other grounds. There were six faculties—Arts, Medicine, Engineering and Commerce—37 departments, 73 academic staff, 1,000 students. In 1923, the university began moving into the new campus vacating its former premises on Ellof Street for the first completed building in Milner Park: the Botany and Zoology Block. In 1925, the Prince of Wales opened Central Block; the university's first library, housed at the time in what was meant to be a temporary construction, was destroyed in a fire on Christmas Eve in 1931.

Following this, an appeal was made to the public for ₤80,000 to pay for the construction of a new library, the acquisition of books. This resulted in the rapid construction of the William Cullen Library. During this period, as the Great Depression hit South Africa, the university was faced with severe financial restrictions. Nonetheless, it continued to grow at an impressive rate. From a total enrolment of 2,544 students in 1939, the university grew to 3,100 in 1945; this growth led to accommodation problems, which were temporarily resolved by the construction of wood and galvanised-iron huts in the centre of the campus. During World War II, Wits was involved in South Africa's war efforts; the Bernard Price Institute of Geophysical Research was placed under the Union of South Africa's defence ministry, was involved in important research into the use of radar. Additionally, an elite force of female soldiers was trained on the university's campus. In 1948 the National Party was voted into power by South Africa's white electorate on a platform of "apartheid".

The NP's aim was to create an artificial white majority in most of South Africa by depriving the black majority of their citizenship, making them citizens of the "homelands" associated with their ethnic groups instead. These were, in theory, "self-governing", in four cases were granted "independence", but in reality, their lack of economic infrastructure left the independent homelands as little more than South African puppet states. This policy of "grand apartheid" was accompanied by the extension of racially discriminatory measures within so-called "white South Africa", including the segregation of universities. Wits managed to remain an open institution, but by 1956 the NP government began to push for the full implementation of university apartheid. In response, in 1957, the University of Cape Town, Rhodes University and the University of Natal issued a joint statement entitled "The Open Universities in South Africa", committing themselves to the principles of university autonomy and academic freedom.

In 1959, the apartheid government's Extension of University Education Act forced restricted registrations o

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