University of KwaZulu Natal

THE 2004 merger that created this university brought together two major higher education institutions that had operated throughout the apartheid era on the Natal coast.

According to its mission, the University of KwaZulu-Natal seeks academic excellence, innovative research, and a critical engagement with society. It also wishes to redress the imbalances of the past by achieving equitable demographic representation among students and staff.

The older of the two original universities, the University of Natal, was founded in Pietermaritzburg in1910 as the Natal University College. After World War I, a campus was established in Durban. Further additions followed: a Faculty of Agriculture in Pietermaritzburg in 1946; and a Medical School (but for Africans, Indians and coloureds only) in Durban in 1947, which was for many years the only site in apartheid South Africa providing medical education for students who were not white. The Natal University College was granted independent university status in 1949.

The other institution, ultimately known as the University of Durban-Westville, was essentially an apartheid institution, reserved for the use of Indian students only. It began as a University College on Salisbury Island in Durban Bay in the early 1960s. Student numbers grew rapidly and in 1971 full university status was granted, and the following year the new university moved into its modern Westville campus. As the seventies and eighties unfolded, the campus became a major site for anti-apartheid protest, and in 1984 the university defiantly opened its doors to students of all races.

The merged University of KwaZulu-Natal has as its tagline ‘the premier university of African scholarship’. It’s a reasonable claim. Across its six faculties: Engineering; Education; Humanities, Development and Social Sciences; Management Studies; Science and Agriculture; and Health Sciences – no fewer than 8 700 students enrolled for postgraduate studies (in 2007), and 1 162 of these were working towards their doctorates.

Facts and Figures  at a Glance1

There were 32,363 contact students at UKZN in 2007 and 5,487 distance students. Of the total student body, full-time students numbered 28,273 and part-time 9,577. Of these, 35,516 were South African citizens, 1,386 from other SADC countries and 948 students from non-SADC countries (actual data, 2007).

Table 1: University of KwaZulu Natal - Summary of Enrolment Numbers (Actual data, 2007)


Number of students enrolled per level of study

Major Field of Study

Total Number of Students (Headcount)

Under- graduate degree/ diploma Post-graduate degree/ diploma Masters Degree Doctoral Degree Other qualifications (short courses, certificates etc.)
Science, Engineering & Technology 7,158 5,500 283 752 482 141
Business, Management & Law 10,896 7,415 2,154 774 147 406
Humanities and Social Sciences 14,634 9,462 1,087 1,303 445 2,337
Health Sciences 5,162 2,520 283 910 88 1,361
TOTALS 37,850 24,897 3,807 3,739 1,162 4,245

 Source: University of KwaZulu Natal  questionnaire response

Table 2: University of KwaZulu Natal - Academic and Research staff (Actual data, 2007)

Major Field Of Study

Total Number (headcount)

Science, Engineering & Technology 395
Business, Management & Law 220
Humanities and Social Sciences 463
Health Sciences 348
Other (Academics outside faculties - research-like units) 46
TOTALS 1,472

Source: University of KwaZulu Natal  questionnaire response


[1] All data presented in this section is headcount data.