University Of Pretoria History

by Israel Boafo Bansah

University Of Pretoria History

University Of Pretoria History, The University of Pretoria turns 110 in February 2018. It is a world-class university which is one of the biggest research producers in South Africa and in Africa. It is unique as it is the only university in the country that has a Veterinary Science Faculty. This Faculty is highly recognised in Africa.

The Pretoria branch of the Transvaal University College (TUC) was the forerunner of the University of Pretoria. It commenced its activities in 1908 with a staff of four professors and three lecturers. Thirty-two students enrolled for courses at the first campus, Kya Rosa, a house in the centre of the Pretoria. The University of Pretoria became a fully fledged university in 1930. The name Tuks, for the University of Pretoria, derives from the acronym for the College, namely TUC.
In the years preceding the South African War (1899-1902) there was much discussion in the Volksraad of the ZAR regarding the establishment of a university. These plans were interrupted by the outbreak of the war. In 1902 the Normal College for the training of teachers was established in Pretoria and in 1904 the Transvaal Technical Institute opened in Johannesburg with an emphasis on mining education. Classes were also offered by the institute in Pretoria.
In 1906 the institute adopted a new name – the Transvaal University College (TUC) and in 1908 university classes began in Pretoria in the Arts and Sciences as part of the TUC with its seat in Johannesburg. The first four professors were Prof H. Th. Reinink (Dutch), J. Purves (Scottish), A.C. Paterson (Scottish) and D.F. du Toit Malherbe (South African). On 10 February 1908 32 students began with classes in Kya Rosa, a house in Skinner Street and on 4 March 1908 the Transvaal University College (TUC) became known officially as the Pretoria Centre of the Transvaal University College. Kya Lami in Schoeman Street was used as a men’s residence for students and lecturers.


On 17 May 1910 the TUC in Pretoria became an independent institution apart from the Johannesburg institute, which became known as the South African School of Mines and Technology. The TUC acquired its own campus in the east of Pretoria. The cornerstone of the Old Arts Building was laid by Governor General Gladstone on 3 August 1910 and in September 1911 the TUC moved into the Old Arts and the Old Chemistry buildings. There were 7 professors, 6 lecturers and 62 students.
In 1914 the College men’s residence was built. 1917 saw the establishment of the Faculties of Agriculture and Theology, 1918 the establishment of the Faculty of Law and in 1919 the Faculties of Arts; Natural Sciences; Trade and Public Administration and Veterinary Science were established.
In 1920 the TUC acquired the Experimental farm and in 1926 the first official Ladies Residence, die Fant (today Vergeet-my-nie) was constructed.
Many student activities originated in the founding years. The first Student Council was founded in 1909.
Rag started in the early 1920s and the first Rag Queen was crowned in 1929.
The welcoming of the first years (initiation) also started in this time and took place on Church Square, in full view of curious onlookers.
With sport facilities on the main campus (where the Musaion and Aula are today), students could partake in various kinds of sport, such as rugby, netball, hockey and tennis.


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