As the largest and oldest NWU campus, with a history going back 141 years, the Potchefstroom Campus has a longstanding track record in delivering high-quality graduates and conducting pioneering research.
The Campus, situated in the historical university town of Potchefstroom, traditionally drew its students from the Afrikaans-speaking community but today embraces a multilingual, multicultural working and teaching environment. For the benefit of non-Afrikaans students, for example, real-time classroom interpreting services are used in academic programmes regarded as key to the development of the South African economy. This has contributed to the ongoing growth of the Potchefstroom Campus, which had 35 174 students in 2008, including 18 800 students enrolled for distance programmes.
The Potchefstroom Campus has eight academic faculties:
In addition, it has 20 research entities, numerous centres and institutes and 102 researchers with ratings from the National Research Foundation. The latter include a physicist with an A1 rating, which is the highest possible accreditation.
Not surprisingly, innovativeness is a prominent attribute of the Campus, whose staff and students have generated many patentable or marketable inventions. These include a revolutionary glider (the JS1 Revelation Glider) that is being exported abroad, a continuous spark ignition system, ozone generators and electronic spelling checkers for African languages.
The Campus is also a sought-after partner in various national and international academic and research consortia. Among others, its Institute for Industrial Pharmacy is part of a 15-organisation consortium appointed by the American Department of Health to distribute anti-retroviral and other preventive medicines in developing countries. In the sphere of space physics, a group of researchers from the Campus was part of the transnational High-Energy Stereoscopic System (HESS) that won the Descartes Prize for 2006. Most recently, South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology chose the Campus to co-host a Hydrogen Infrastructure Centre of Competence.
Yet another core strength is nuclear engineering. Through the Potchefstroom Campus, the NWU was the first university in South Africa to offer not one but two approved master’s qualifications in this discipline, the M Eng and the MSc in Nuclear Engineering. The Campus is also a key partner in the technology development of South Africa’s Pebble Bed Modular Reactor project.
In addition to its impressive academic and research credentials, the Potchefstroom Campus is well known for its sporting prowess and facilities. These include the FNB High Performance Institute, where several Olympic athletics teams trained in preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games. The HPI has also been chosen as the Africa Sports Development Centre by the International Cycling Union and the International Triathlon Federation.