Start main page content

Wits joins edX as its first African university partner

- By Wits University

Partnership will allow the global community access to excellent education through a powerful, internet-based platform founded by MIT and Harvard

Johannesburg, South Africa – The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits) announced today its partnership with edX, the nonprofit online learning destination founded by MIT and Harvard to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) to a global learning audience. The collaboration is the first of its kind between a major international MOOC provider and an African University.

The total number of students pursuing higher education in Africa tripled between 1991 and 2006, however public investment in education has remained the same[1]. This increase in demand, along with the growing value of university degrees on the continent, means that the current high levels of educational expansion may still not be enough[2]. The edX and Wits partnership will help bridge this gap by delivering education opportunities to students on the continent and beyond.

The edX community throughout Africa, which is already more than 200,000 learners strong, will now have access to courses from a top university on the continent.

“This is a pioneering, innovative project spearheaded by Wits, which will indeed unlock new opportunities in South Africa and through the rest of the continent. This is in line with the University’s commitment to being locally responsive and internationally competitive,” says Prof. Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Wits University. “We are still developing the course content but students from around the world will be able to access our international expertise in a range of fields ranging from economics and law to deep level mining and the palaeosciences.”   

Wits courses (WitsX) will be open for enrollment on towards the end of 2015.

“We are pleased to welcome the University of Witwatersrand to our global community of educators and learners,” says Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX. “As a premier research institution and our first university partner in Africa, we look forward to collaborating to increase access to high quality education for all, and especially for learners in South Africa and throughout the continent who are eager for new educational opportunities and to develop new skills.”

Wits joins the more than 60 global universities, colleges and institutions that make up edX’s distinguished academic body, which offer online courses to anyone, anywhere in the world with a desire to learn.


About University of Witwatersrand

Based in Johannesburg South Africa, the University of Witwatersrand is a world-class research university in Africa renowned for its commitment to academic and research excellence. The university contributes to the global knowledge economy and local transformation through the generation of high level, scarce skills and innovative research. At the forefront of a changing society, Wits is an engaged institution, dedicated to advancing the public good. It promotes intellectual communities and attracts talented students, distinguished academics and thinkers from around the globe.


About edX

EdX is a nonprofit, open-source enterprise offering online courses from more than 60 member institutions, composed of both leading global universities and colleges and a diverse group of prominent organisations from around the world. Founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, edX is focused on transforming online and on-campus learning through groundbreaking methodologies, game-like experiences and cutting-edge research on an open-source platform. Based in Cambridge, MA, USA, edX is focused on people, not profit.


[1] Financing Higher Education in Africa

[2] Can Higher Education Solve Africa’s Job Crisis?