The University College in Johannesburg attained full University status under the name the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg. The origin of Wits lies in the South African School of Mines, which was established in Kimberley in 1896 and transferred to Johannesburg as the Transvaal Technical Institute in 1904. The Institute became the Transvaal University College in 1906 and was renamed the South African School of Mines and Technology four years later. Full university status was granted to the University College in 1922, with effect from March 1. Seven months later the inauguration of the University was duly celebrated. Prof Jan Hofmeyr became the first principal. Construction on the new University buildings began at Milner Park on a site donated to the University by the Johannesburg Municipality.
The University had, at that stage, six faculties, namely Arts, Science, Medicine, Engineering, Law and Commerce, 37 departments, 73 academic staff members and just more than 1 000 students. The period between 1947 and the 1980s was marked by considerable growth. Student numbers increased rapidly to 6 275 in 1963, 10 600 in 1975 and by 1985 there were 16 400 students.