UNISA vs Stellenbosch University Comparison | Opinion

unisa vs stellenbosch university

UNISA and Stellenbosch University are top universities in South Africa and among the top universities in Africa as a whole. The quality of education and other criteria made these universities among the best.

Today we will take a look at the comparison of the University of South Africa popularly known as UNISa and Stellenbosch University, and give our opinion on the two institutions.

Before we dive into the details about these two universities, let’s take a look at the history of the two universities.

The University of South Africa, UNISA is the largest University in South Africa and one of the world mega distance learning teaching institutions in the world. UNISA was founded in 1873 as the University of the Cape of Good Hope before it changed to the University of South Africa in 1916 and moved to Pretoria in 1918.

In a bid to make education accessible to all and give room for those that could not attend residential university due to personal or occupational reasons, it pioneer distance learning education in 1946. This university has played an important role in the South African education system and in the provision of tertiary education for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The history of Stellenbosch University, SU, can be traced back to the 17th century when regular school was introduced in the town of Stellenbosch. Stellenbosch Gymnasium was formed in 1863 and the so-called Arts Department was formed less than a decade later.

unisa vs stellenbosch university

SU was named Victoria College in 1887 to honour Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, the 50-year celebration. The 1916 University Act by the then Union of South Africa Parliament makes the establishment of a university possible. Victoria College became Stellenbosch University on 2 April 1918 after a benefactor, Mr Jan Marais of Coetzenburg donated £100 000.

See also  University of Cape Town Vs University of Witwatersrand Comparison

Both UNISA and SU are very old universities in South Africa and they have both contributed to the development of the South African education system.

Table of Contents


The University of South Africa, Unisa is the number 851 in the Best Universities Global Ranking, ranked at the number 1416 by cwur.org in the world and number 11th top university in South Africa. Meanwhile, the University of Stellenbosch is ranked number 435 in the world and 3rd in South Africa.

In the subject ranking, UNISA chemistry is ranked at #700 and material science at #488 While Stellenbosch University has many high ranking courses; it is ranked #93 in infectious diseases, #710 in chemistry, #120 in agricultural science and many others. Stellenbosch Universit is ranked #3 in Best Global Universities in Africa; #3 Best Global Universities in South Africa and #317 Best Global Universities

With this ranking, it is obvious that Stellenbosch University is ranked higher than UNISA and has more recognition internationally.

Student Intake, degree and Staff

The University of South Africa has the largest student intake in South Africa, it admits one-third of all South African admission. It has 193,543 students with 68,041 new undergraduate students, 47 new doctoral students, 367 new master students, 9,369 international students. UNISA awards 47,770 degrees, 335 doctoral awards and 801 master degrees.

It has a total of 948 academic staff; 77 international staff and 53 research-only staff.

Stellenbosch University has a student capacity of 24,733; admit 8,267 new undergraduate students yearly, 1,937 international students and 194 new doctoral students. It has 949 academic staff; 81 international staff and 337 research-only staff. It awards 7,173 undergraduate awards, 359 doctoral degrees and 1,446 master’s degrees.

UNISA has the highest number of students intake, it has one-third of the total student intake in South Africa. It awards more degrees than Stellenbosch University but Stellenbosch awards more Masters degree and Doctoral degrees.

From the number of research-only staff, it is obvious that Stellenbosch University put more emphasis on research than UNISA.


Stellenbosch University has many facilities that make studying easy and interesting. It has Tygerberg Student Centre that enhances out of class experience, this student centre has various facilities including a cafeteria and Van Schaik bookstore.

It also has sports facilities with provisions for tennis, rugby, hockey, cricket and soccer as well as netball, squash, rock climbing and swimming. SU also has the simulation and clinical unit to assist students to students to reach competency in the psychomotor and affective outcomes of the different curricula present of the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Other facilities are the medical morphology museum, Library, Computer centres and also offers accommodation to students.

UNISA has world-class conference facilities that are well equipped, UNISA has three main conference facilities in Gauteng and their Cape Town and Durban regional offices. It also has eLearning facilities that provide resources relevant to your studies at any place, anytime.

Campuses and Faculties

Unisa’s Muckleneuk Campus is located in Pretoria which is a major landmark of the capital city. The Sunnyside campus is also in Pretoria which is the main area for study activities. UNISA has its Science campus in Florida campus, Johannesburg which house the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, and some departments of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology.

The Florida campus has 12 buildings, two auditoriums, one Library and a large study area. The campus also has a horticultural centre and a multipurpose research and training facility.

UNISAhas seven regional centres in South Africa to serve the nine provinces in the country, they are:

  • Eastern Cape (East London, Mthatha, Port Elizabeth)
  • Gauteng (Ekurhuleni, Florida, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Vaal Triangle)
  • Kwazulu-Natal (Durban, Newcastle, Pietermaritzburg, Richards Bay, Wild Coast Region)
  • Limpopo Province (Giyani, Makhado, Polokwane)
  • Midlands (Bloemfontein, Kimberley Kroonstad, Mafikeng, Potchefstroom, Rustenburg)
  • Mpumalanga (Middelburg, Nelspruit)
  • Western Cape (Cape Town, George)

Stellenbosch University has five faculties and a total of 10 faculties, which are;

Stellenbosch (Main Campus)

Arts and Social Sciences, Science, Education, AgriSciences, Law, Theology, Economic and Management Sciences, Engineering

Tygerberg (Bellville)

Health Sciences

Bellville Park

Graduate School of Business, School of Public Leadership


Military Science


Ukwanda Rural Clinical School


To gain admission into UNISA and Stellenbosch University, applicants will have to meet the general admission requirements and the course admission requirements. Failure to meet all the applicable requirements will make the application ineligible.

You can check our post on UNISA admission requirements and Stellenbosch University admission requirements.

UNISA is one of the world mega universities that provide learning opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and it has the highest number of students on its campuses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Comparing the number of admissions given per year, UNISA has more student capacity when compared to any other universities in South Africa.

Courses Offered

UNISA offers certificate courses, diploma courses, postgraduate courses, advanced diploma courses, undergraduate courses, masters courses and doctoral courses. See the list of courses offered by UNISA.

Stellenbosch University offers undergraduate courses, postgraduate courses and certificate courses. You can see all the courses offered by SU here.


Stellenbosch University fees per module ranges from R43 343 to R48 706 while UNISA fees range from R1,743 to R6,722. This shows that it is more expensive to study at Stellenbosch University compared to UNISA.

Our Conclusion

The two universities are one of the best in South Africa and in Africa at large. Though Stellenbosch University is ranked ahead of UNISA, UNISA is not a bad choice for those that will like to study there especially for those that are considering fees.

Stellenbosch is the third best university in South Africa and Africa according to ranking and it has many highly rated courses worldwide. If you have the financial capacity to study at the university be rest assured that you won’t regret studying at the university.

All the information in this post are gotten from our research and it might not be 100 per cent correct, if you have any contrary data or fack please get it across to us or you have what you will like us to add.

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