History of the Vaal Triangle Campus, Vaal Triangle, NWU

Recent history

Vaal Triangle Campus history

Heeding the call of business and industry

The Vaal Triangle Campus has a rare claim to fame: it was established by popular demand from business and industry around Vanderbijlpark, a growth hotspot in Gauteng Province.

It all started in 1963 when the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education (PU for CHE) began presenting refresher courses for cost accountants in the Vaal Triangle on request.

Three years later, in 1966, lecturers commuting from Potchefstroom began presenting a part-time BCom degree in Vanderbijlpark. This was followed in 1970 by part-time lectures for a BA degree.

Student numbers increased steadily, resulting in a permanent office being established in the Vaal Triangle in 1973. Next, in 1976, part-time lecturers commenced for a BSc degree and the first three permanent professors were transferred to Vanderbijlpark.

Full-time lectures commenced in January 1977, with six permanent lecturers for 52 full-time students. A year later, the Vaal Triangle further extended its academic offerings by introducing a BEd degree and Higher Education Diploma.

In 1983, the Campus was officially named the Vaal Triangle Campus with a Vice-Rector. Construction of the riverside campus began and the first professors in the Faculty of Engineering were appointed.

A major milestone was reached in 1984 when student numbers increased to 1 140 and the first graduation ceremony was held for 99 graduates.

A year later, in 1985, the first two men’s residences were occupied and, within two years, the Campus had the capacity to accommodate 185 students in residences.

The Campus continued to operate successfully but, in 1992, experienced a decline in student numbers, from around 1 900 to about 1 500. English was introduced as an additional medium of instruction, making the Campus a more community-oriented institution.

1994 marked the start of wide-ranging transformation on the Campus. Among others, a four-year BCom degree was introduced for students from disadvantaged communities and the first fully democratic elections were held for the Student Representative Council.

Over the next decade, the Vaal Triangle Campus strengthened its position as a higher education powerhouse in the region. By 2003, student numbers had increased to 2 247 – exceeding 2 000 students for the first time in the Campus’s history. At the time of the merger in January 2004, when the Vaal Triangle Campus became one of three campuses of the North-West University, the Campus’s student complement had grown to 3 038.