Universities South Africa was formed on 9 May 2005, as the successor to the two statutory representative organisations for universities and universities of technology (former technikons). These organisations were, respectively, the South African Universities Vice-Chancellors Association (SAUVCA) and the Committee of Technikon Principals (CTP). SAUVCA was established as a statutory body for the 21 public universities in South Africa by the Universities Act (Act 61 of 1955). As a statutory body, it made recommendations to the Minister and Director-General of Education on matters referred to it or alternatively on any other issues, which it deemed important for universities. The CTP was a national higher education association established in 1967 in terms of the Advanced Technical Education Act (No. 40 of 1967). It comprised the rectors, principals and Vice-Chancellors of technikons in South Africa.

The restructuring of the higher education sector, which took place between 2004 and 2005, initiated the launch of Universities South Africa. The restructuring process – which involved mergers and the creation of new institutional types called comprehensive universities – resulted in the reduction of institutions of higher education from 36 to 23. With the launch of two brand new universities in 2013, the number of institutions has grown to 25.

About NiSHE

The NiSHE Project has been in operation since 2003. It was originally conceived against the background of the national policy imperatives of increasing and broadening student access into Higher Education. The original thinking was that it would lay a strong foundation for the incremental development of a government initiative called the National Higher Education Information and Application System (NHEIAS), driven by the then Department of Education. The project has to date focused on the provision of information and guidance to prospective Higher Education students, the main focus being the transition from the schooling system into the university system. 2014 is the eleventh year of the project’s implementation.