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HomeSouth AfricaEastern CapeNelson Mandela University has launched an Ocean Sciences Campus

Nelson Mandela University has launched an Ocean Sciences Campus

A regional overview of the education sector in the Eastern Cape, with a focus on industry partnerships and collaboration.

Universities in the Eastern Cape

The Eastern Cape is home to five universities, three of which are comprehensive universities. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), Walter Sisulu University (WSU) and University of South Africa (Unisa) offer both diplomas (vocational) and academic programmes (degrees).

Research students from the University of Fort Hare are helping the small village of Upper Blinkwater get their own electricity from a mini-grid powered by biogas digesters. Staying current with the latest research in renewable energy is vital for the provincial economy, as is the need to engage in research that helps communities.

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) has six campuses (including one in the Western Cape town of George) and seven faculties. In 2017, NMMU inaugurated its Ocean Science Campus at its Port Elizabeth base. This includes a unit aimed at combating sea fisheries crime (FishFORCE, with support from Norway) and the South African International Maritime Institute. The university has four marine sector chairs funded by the South African Research Chair Initiative (SARChI) and the National Research Foundation (NRF):

  • Marine Spatial Planning (ocean zoning)
  • Shallow Water Ecosystems (including rare coastal rock pools)
  • Ocean Sciences and Food Security (with Southampton University)
  • Law of the Sea (including oil resource management, port law and marine tourism law).

Walter Sisulu University has four faculties: Education; Health Sciences; Business, Management Sciences and Law; and Science, Engineering and Technology.

Rhodes University in Grahamstown had just over 8 000 students in 2015, the majority of whom live in residences, but its academic and research staff have a disproportionately high number of master’s and doctoral degrees. Rhodes has 14 of the national research chairs appointed under SARChI, including chairs in radio astronomy and biotechnology. The university’s journalism school is a leader in its field.

Fort Hare University has five faculties, 10 schools and, at its East London campus, the Institute of Social and Economic Research. Fort Hare is supported by the National Research Foundation and participates and has approved research programmes in Water Resource Management, Sustainable Agriculture and Land Use Strategies.

There are several examples in the Eastern Cape of collaboration between the manufacturing sector and educational institutions: General Motors SA has assigned R3.6-million to a Chair in Mechatronics at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). NMMU offers a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechatronics, covering electronics, mechanical engineering and computer-aided design.

Volkswagen supports the International Chair in Automotive Engineering at NMMU. Rhodes University’s Centre for Environmental Water Quality, within the Institute for Water Research, is sponsored by Unilever. InnoVenton: NMMU Institute of Chemical Technology commercialises research and has several clients in the private sector.

Colleges and schools

The provincial government has committed a sum of R1.5-billion over five years to aligning TVET colleges more closely with the needs of the local economy through learnerships.

The Eastern Cape has eight Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) colleges, most of which have more than one campus: Buffalo City, Port Elizabeth, Lovedale, King Hintsa, Ingwe, King Sabata Dalinyebo, Ikhala and Eastcape Midlands College. King Sabata Dalinyebo offers business and engineering studies among its formal programmes, and short courses in bricklaying and computer studies.

Over 20 000 students are enrolled at this level in the province. The Eastcape Midlands TVET College has five sites: in Graaff-Reinet and Grahamstown and three in Uitenhage, where students can study Business Studies, Electrical Engineering, ICT and Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering. The other campuses specialise in Business Studies.

Lovedale Public TVET College serves the community through three campuses at King William’s Town, Alice and Zwelitsha, near King William’s Town. The programmes of each campus reflect the economic priorities of that region.

In Alice, the focus is on agriculture, King William’s Town offers business diplomas, while engineering is available to students at the Zwelitsha facility.

Buffalo City TVET College, with two large campuses in East London and Mdantsane, specialises in Business and Engineering for full-time studies, but offers a wide range of part-time courses as well. The college’s School of Occupational Training is located at St Marks Road.

In the Eastern Cape, more than 90% of children in public schools benefit from a non-fee policy. Grade R classes are attached to more than 90% of primary schools.

The province’s school-nutrition programme feeds 1.6-million children, while the transport programme delivers approximately 56 461 children to 614 schools.

Infrastructure is still lacking in many areas, something that the developmental NGO Mvula Trust is putting right. With funding from the Eastern Cape Department of Education, the trust in 2016/17 provided 89 schools with sanitation, 1 676 toilets and 309 water tanks.

Online resources

  • Eastern Cape Department of Education:
  • National Department of Basic Education:
  • National Department of Higher Education:
  • National Research Foundation:
  • Ocean Sciences campus:
  • Technology Innovation Agency:

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