About Wits

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The fundamental role of any university is to promote freedom of enquiry and the search for knowledge and truth. Wits has built a reputation for itself in this role, establishing itself at the industrial and commercial heart of South Africa as a centre for education and research of the highest quality. Wits' mission is to build on this foundation in a way that takes account of its responsibilities within South Africa today; and to maintain and enhance its position as a leading university in the Republic, in Africa, and in the World by sustaining globally competitive standards of excellence in learning, teaching and research.

Vision Statement

The University of the Witwatersrand aspires to be a leading world-class research-intensive university firmly embedded among international top league universities by 2022.

Mission Statement

The mission of the University of the Witwatersrand is to grow its global stature as a leading research-intensive university, and to be a gateway to research engagement and intellectual achievement in Africa. It will achieve this by building on the principles of intellectual excellence, international competitiveness and local relevance. As an institution built on principles of intellectual excellence, we are committed to providing high-quality, internationally competitive education, founded on high academic standards, cutting-edge research, public engagement, and productive partnerships with leading institutions throughout the world.

Wits will seek to use all its assets - both human and physical - to serve the intellectual, professional and educational needs of South African society.



  • Amplify our generation and dissemination of groundbreaking knowledge in niche areas.
  • Optimise our international visibility and impact of research, and our reputation for teaching.
  • Maintain a high proportion of international students and staff.
  • Recruit highly talented students for undergraduate education.
  • Maintain a high proportion of carefully selected postgraduate students.
  • Produce highly influential graduates for the global civil society.
  • Widen our footprint globally through extensive strategic networks.
  • Attract and retain distinguished scholars and prize-winning leaders in niche and strategic fields.
  • Attract and retain the best academic and support staff.
  • Contribute to society through research, teaching and social engagement.
  • Maintain a distinctive focus and reputation for groundbreaking research and scholarships in science, engineering and technology (SET) areas.
  • Benchmark with top-league and top-100 universities, including the UK Russell Group, the Australian Group of Eight, and the Big 5 in South Africa.
  • Provide a high-quality, supportive research and educational environment for students and staff.
  • Establish and sustain a base for diversified sources of income.
  • Retain a high degree of academic freedom and institutional independence.
  • Retain our long-lasting legacy of high-level achievement and excellence
Identity and Values


  • Independent enquiry and trust: Academics and students will demonstrate the capacity to function independently in line with the quality standards, principles and values of the University and in accordance with the mandates and responsibilities that may impact on particular areas of work.
  • International engagement: Members of the University have roles as public intellectuals, members of the global civil society and as intellectual leaders. These roles find expression through curricula and research that demonstrates commitment to our local context, but understands our role as a globally relevant University.
  • Intellectual excellence and integrity: All those associated with the University are active participants in an intellectual community and the work they do must be characterised by the highest standards of intellectual integrity.
  • Academic freedom and institutional autonomy: This includes, but is not limited to, protecting our right to decide who we teach, how we teach, what we teach and what research we undertake. At Wits we will be guided by international standards of intellectual excellence.
  • Collegiality: The University is a collegial community of scholars, which is more than a constellation of economically driven relationships within a legally constituted organisational structure.
  • Social engagement and responsiveness: Members of the University have roles as public intellectuals, members of the society and as intellectual leaders. These roles find expression through curricula and research.
  • Diversity: A sufficiently diverse range of knowledge areas should be maintained and reflected in teaching and research - including an explicit commitment to cross-cultural accessibility and internationalisation.
  • Accountability: Wits governance structures are inclusive and broadly representative, which includes the onus of deliberating on all points of view.
  • Debate and critical engagement: The University’s intellectual project is an educational one predicated on intellectual depth and robust engagement.
Wits VISION 2022


In 2010, the University developed a 12-year strategic framework as a roadmap to achieve this aforementioned vision: the Wits Vision 2022 Strategic Framework. The Wits Vision 2022 Strategic Framework was guided by an extensive consultation process, allowing various internal and external stakeholders an opportunity to contribute to the vision of the University. The University of the Witwatersrand is globally vaunted for its academic and research excellence, which has grown from strength to strength since it acquired its full status as a university in 1922. The reputation and recognition of Wits as a world-class university is evident in its ranking in the past years as one of the two leading universities in the country and on the continent. This legacy of excellence has to be nurtured, sustained and eventually surpassed in the next years. 

The Wits Vision 2022 Strategic Framework articulates a vision that elevates Wits’ position as one of the internationally leading research-intensive universities and a gateway to knowledge and understanding in Africa. It provides the overarching framework for more detailed plans based on current imperatives, and will shape strategic thinking during the respective planning cycles. There are four three-year strategic plans built into the Wits Vision 2022 Strategic Framework, the first being the Wits 2013 Strategy.




  • academic freedom, autonomy, accountability, tolerance of difference of opinion, and transparency
  • democracy, justice, equality, and freedom from racism and sexism as enshrined in the Constitution
  • playing a leading role in addressing historical disadvantages in the education of the majority of the population of South Africa
  • fostering a culturally diverse, intellectually stimulating and harmonious environment within which there is vigorous critical exchange and communication
  • supporting, developing and unifying its staff and students, through providing opportunities for all to participate in the academic activities of the University, its governance and its cultural and sporting activities
  • creating and maintaining accessible, safe, friendly and well-resourced campuses
Continuous Goals
  • to communicate with the people and institutions of the community in which it works, so that the community will participate more effectively in fulfilling the goals and priorities of the University
  • to continue to support and enhance basic, strategic and applied research, especially research of particular relevance to South Africa
  • to ensure that its graduates achieve levels of skill, knowledge and understanding comparable with those of graduates from the best universities world-wide
  • to continue to develop its courses to serve the needs of Southern Africa, recognising that this requires a solid foundation in basic, theoretical and comparative studies
  • to improve the success rate of students through enhanced teaching and learning, and coherent academic development programmes
  • to continue to attract and retain excellent staff, providing ongoing development opportunities at all levels
  • to eliminate discrimination based on race, class, gender, sexual orientation and disability, through effective labour relations policies and affirmative action programmes leading to equal opportunity
  • to foster dialogue and interaction between different cultural communities within the University, with the goal of rapidly increasing mutual respect and trust
  • to ensure that the campuses are safe, well-resourced and clean, so as to build a sense of pride on the part of all stakeholders
  • to foster capacity in science and engineering and increase the number of graduates in these areas, especially from historically disadvantaged groups
  • to prepare students for managerial, professional and leadership positions in the public and private sectors and to produce social scientists with the capacity for skilled research on issues of critical importance to the country
  • to maintain a commitment to studies in the humanities and social sciences
  • to contribute to the production and upgrading of school teachers, particularly in English, Mathematics and Natural Sciences
  • to increase the number of post-graduate students, especially from historically disadvantaged groups
  • to develop flexible study programmes that will improve interaction between disciplines, mobility between institutions in post-secondary education and opportunities for part-time study
  • to provide executive and certificate courses to sectors of the society it serves, including organised labour, business and the public sector, thereby also increasing income to the University
  • to participate with other private and public institutions (nationally and internationally) in developing a rational and effective system of higher education in South Africa