Founded in 1910 as 'The Natal University College', in Pietermaritzburg. The University of Natal was granted independent University status in 1949. This was owing to its rapid growth in numbers. This University offered a wide range of courses and "Its achievements and opportunities in research were remarkable!" By that time, the Natal University Campus was already a Multi-Campus Institution, after having been extended to Durban after World War 1. The distinctive Howard College Building was opened in 1931. This was following a donation by Mr. T B Davis, whose son Howard Davis was killed during the Battle of Somme in World War I. In 1946, the Government also approved a Faculty of Agriculture, in Pietermaritzburg. Then in 1947, a Medical School for African, Indian and Coloured students, in Durban.
As of the 2001 Census 22.9% of the Population in KwaZulu-Natal aged 20 years or more had received no Education, while only 4.8% had Higher Education. Even though KwaZulu Natal has: 'Traditional and Comprehensive' Universities.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) was formed on 1 January 2004 as a result of the merger between the University of Durban-Westville and the University of Natal. The new University brought together the rich Histories of both, these former Universities.
The University of Durban-Westville, (UDW), was established in the 1960's. This University or College was for Indians on Salisbury Island in the Bay of Durban. Student numbers throughout the 1960's were low as a result of: the Congress Alliances Policy'. This policy gave way in the 1980's to the strategy of: “education under protest”. This sought to transform Apartheid Institutions into: 'Sites of struggle. Student numbers grew rapidly and in 1971, the College Campus in Westville was a site of major anti-Apartheid struggle. UDW became an autonomous institution in 1984, opening up to students of all races. The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) is a university with five Campuses in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. It was formed on 1 January 2004 after the merger between the University of Natal and the University of Durban-Westville. These two KwaZulu-Natal Universities were among the first batch of South African institutions. This was in accordance with the Government’s Higher Educational Restructuring. This was eventually supposed to see plans that will increase the number of Higher Educational Institutions, in South Africa. This, however, reduced the Higher Education Facilities, from 36 to 21. This was confirmed by a Parliament decision, in December 2002.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal aims to be a truly South African University that reflects the society, in which it is situated. Not only in terms of race, gender and class – but in terms of how it structures its values and priorities and how it responds to social needs. As an institution of higher learning, it is committed to academic excellence, innovation in research and critical engagement with society.
The University of Zululand (also known as Unizulu) has been designated to serve as the only comprehensive tertiary educational institution North of the uThukela River in KwaZulu-Natal. This new status is in accordance with South Africa's National Plan for Higher Education and aims at eradicating: 'Inequity and Costly Duplication'. As a result, Unizulu, offers career-focused programs as well as a limited number of relevant university degree courses that have been structured with potential employees and employers in mind.