About Rhodes University

Grahamstown is a small town in the Eastern Cape and is best known for two things: 1) The Rhodes University and 2) The National Arts Festival (affectionately known as the Grahamstown Festival). This little town is steeped in history and heritage, full of South African and colonial culture that infuses it with plenty of character. It is within this setting that around 7 000 local and international students converge to learn and thrive in a number of academic disciplines.

Rhodes University was established in 1904 in response to a growing need for tertiary education and a lack of facilities and funds in smaller institutions around the Eastern Cape Province. Over the generations, it has continued to grow, enjoying its present reputation as one of South Africa’s top universities. Around half of all of the students here stay in the residences, which means that they make up a large portion of the local population of the town.

Did you know? Most of the town can be explored on foot, which gives you, the visitor, an opportunity to become part of the charm and character of Grahamstown.

Rhodes University is equipped with undergraduate and postgraduate departments; giving students the opportunity to explore and excel in a number of different areas. The academic departments include (but are certainly not limited to) Accounting, African Languages, Anthropology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Biotechnology, Botany, Chemistry, Computer Science, Drama, Economics, English, Environmental Science, Fine Art, Geology, Human Kinetics & Ergonomics, Ichthyology & Fisheries Science, Journalism & Media Studies, Law, Music & Musicology, Political & International Studies, Zoology & Entomology; and a number of other languages (such as Chinese, Afrikaans, German and French).

Roughly one-quarter of the students here are postgraduates, while about 20% are not South Africans. This testifies to the diversity of those that make up the population of this university and of Grahamstown itself. Some of the notable graduates of Rhodes include Wilbur Smith (author and novelist), Ian Roberts (South African actor), Nan Cross (anti-apartheid activist), Max Theiler (virologist and Nobel Peace Prize winner), and Mluleki George (ANC MP and former prisoner on Robben Island).

For those visiting the beautiful Rhodes University Campus, there is plenty to see and do in the town that surrounds it. Grahamstown is known for its colonial history, old-world Victorian-style architecture (including many churches), and the creative folk that give it an arty sort of look and feel. The streets are wide and flanked by tall trees that cast dappled shadows onto those exploring the town beneath them. To avoid disappointment it is advisable to book your accommodation well in advance when visiting Grahamstown. Browse our Grahamstown Accommodation pages to find guest houses, hotels and self catering places and for additional info about Grahamstown which includes attractions and Things to Do, see 'About Grahamstown'.

Because it is a university town, Grahamstown is also full of fun places to eat, drink and relax. Quirky coffee shops and restaurants, night clubs, shopping malls and open markets are the order of the day. Albany Museum is affiliated with Rhodes University and is the second-oldest museum in South Africa, having been established in 1855. It boasts an incredible variety of exhibits that include archaeological findings, fossils, natural displays, historical displays, and a magnificent fine art collection. The Old Provost Prison (an official Heritage Site built in a uniquely British Cape Colony style) is also part of this museum.

Need to Know

WhereRhodes University, Grahamstown, Frontier Country, Eastern Cape, South Africa

WhenDaylight hours.

OvernightStay in Grahamstown Accommodation, Eastern Cape


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