Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education

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The Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education (abbreviated as PU for CHE) was a South African university located in Potchefstroom. Instruction was mainly in Afrikaans. In 2004, the university was merged with other institutions to create the North-West University.

Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education
Potchefstroomse Universiteit vir Christelike Hoër Onderwys (PU vir CHO)
Building Potchefstroom University.jpg
MottoIn U lig (Afrikaans) Translated: In Thy light
Established29 November 1869; 153 years ago (29 November 1869)
ChancellorCronje, DC in 2004- The university merged to form the North-West University in 2004
Vice-ChancellorTheuns Eloff in 2004 –The university merged to form the North-West University in 2004
Students12000 (in 2000)
Location, ,
South Africa (SA)



Potchefstroom University developed out of the Theological School of the Reformed Churches in South Africa (Gereformeerde Kerke in Suid-Afrika in Afrikaans, abbreviated as GKSA), which was founded on 29 November 1869 in Burgersdorp, Cape Province. At the founding meeting, it was decided that education would also be offered to prospective teachers and to persons without any particular profession in mind.[1]


Ferdinand Postma Library of the Potchefstroom University (an old postcard)

Initially, there were only five students and two lecturers. In 1877 a "Literary Department" was established, with one professor, with the specific aim of educating students for academic degrees or as teachers. In 1905, the Theological School, including the Literary Department, was transferred from Burgersdorp to Potchefstroom in the Transvaal. In order to qualify for government subsidies, the Literary Department was separated from the Theological School in 1919 and the Potchefstroom University College for Christian Higher Education (Het Potchefstroom Universiteitskollege voor Christelijk Hooger Onderwijs in Dutch, and usually abbreviated as PUK) came into being. It was decided that the PUK would be a higher education institute separate and independent from the GKSA, although the PUK would continue to train GKSA ministers. In 1921, the Potchefstroom University College (without the "for Christian Higher Education" suffix), was incorporated into the University of South Africa; the PUK only got the "for Christian Higher Education" part of its name back in 1933.[2]

Independent universityEdit

The Potchefstroom University College for Christian Higher Education was officially recognised as an independent university and was renamed the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education in 1951.[3]

Changes through the yearsEdit

In 1993, Private Law status was established. In 1998, the statutes of the PUK were amended in order to enable her to better fulfill her role as part of the co-ordinated higher education system in South Africa according to her original mandate as an institution of Christian higher education. The Vaal Triangle Campus of the university was established in Vanderbijlpark in 1966 in order to provide that area with tertiary education. By 1996, the first online courses were offered. Students were offered interactive courses, the systematic application of multimedia. To facilitate the learning process, over 25 study centres were established country-wide.[4] On 1 January 2000, the Potchefstroom Onderwyskollege was incorporated with the Potchefstroom University's Potchefstroom campus.[5]

Partnerships and researchEdit

  • The university was on a lecturer exchange programme with The Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, The Netherlands[6]
  • Prior to 1994 there were only two universities in South Africa where students could obtain a Baccalaureus degree in Pharmacy. It was at Rhodes University in Grahamstown and here. These two universities did worldwide recognised research together and separately in the fields of pharmacy and chemistry.
  • In 1997 George Whitefield College, became affiliated with the university.[7]

Name change and expandingEdit

In 2004 the Potchefstroom University became one of the three campuses of the new North-West University, the others being in Mafikeng (name later changed to Mahikeng) and Vaal (situated in Vanderbijlpark). The fourth campus, Mankwe, was closed by end of 2004.[8]



Years Surname Name(s) Date of Birth Date of Death
1921–1950 Postma Ferdinand 15 July 1879 4 November 1950
1950–1953 van Rooy Johannes Cornelis 9 July 1890 29 August 1954
1953–1964 Coetzee Johannes Christiaan 8 March 1893 6 December 1989
1964–1977 Bingle Hendrik Johannes Jacob 15 August 1910 29 June 2007
1977–1988 van der Walt Tjaart 15 February 1934
1988–2002 Reinecke Carolus Johannes 21 December 1941
2002–2004 Eloff Theuns 15 May 1955


Years Surname Name(s) Date of Birth Date of Death
1951–1953 du Toit Jacob Daniel 21 February 1877 1 July 1953
1953–1954 van Rooy Johannes Cornelis 9 July 1890 29 August 1954
1954–1961 du Toit Francois Jacobus 25 August 1897 17 March 1961
1961–1979 de Klerk Johannes 22 July 1903 24 January 1979
1980–1981 Vorster Pieter Willem 16 September 1906 10 June 2001
1981–1991 Bingle Hendrik Johannes Jacob 15 August 1910 29 June 2007
1992–1998 de Klerk Frederik Willem 18 March 1936 11 November 2021
1998–2004 Cronje Daniel Christiaan 9 September 1946

Notable alumniEdit




  • Erica Eloff, singer.
  • Karen Hougaard [1], singer
  • Rina Hugo [2], singer received her B.Mus. degree in 1970. She was a member of the "Alabama Studentegeselskap". She performed in all genres as soloist: Opera, Oratorium, Operetta, Musical theatre and popular Afrikaans music.
  • Christa Steyn, † 11 Junie 2012 in Pretoria, also past member of "Alabama Studentegeselskap"; a composer, pianist and Afrikaans singer known for her duette with Jannie du Toit.
  • Kobie van Rensburg [3] is an international opera tenor who currently operates from Germany. He was a member of the Potchefstroom University Choir (1987–1994).
  • Martin Watt a South African composer.




  • Cor Dirks, youth male writer of youth books, like "Die Uile" series


  1. ^ Jooste, J.P (August 1957). "(Afrikaans) Die Geskiedenis van die P.U. vir C.H.O. (tot Inkorporasie) (translated: The history of the PU for CHE)". Koersjoernaal. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  2. ^ Ferreira. O.J.O. (November 2006). "(Afrikaans)Die Trotse en Soms Omstrede Geskiedenis van die PUK (translated: the proud and sometimes controversial history of the University)". Historical Association of South Africa (HASA). Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  3. ^ "This day in history". SAHO. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  4. ^ "NWU, Potchefstroom Campus, History of the Potchefstroom Campus". Nwu.ac.za. Retrieved 2017-05-11.
  5. ^ Gouws, L. (18 May 2016). "POK museum". Potchefstroom Herald newspaper. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  6. ^ "The Vrije Universiteit and South Africa - Political and Organisational Developments". Rozenber Quarterly. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  7. ^ "Our History". Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  8. ^ "North West University". Top Universities. 20 July 2016. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  9. ^ "(Afrikaans) Beleid- en bestuurstrukture (translated: Policies and management)". Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  10. ^ "(Afrikaans) Era voltooi met onthulling van Eloff skildery (translated: period ends with Eloff painting)". Your City Newspaper. 2008. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  11. ^ "FW de Klerk". FAK. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  12. ^ Douw Steyn SA, B.Sc (QS). "Douw Steyn SA, B.Sc (QS): Executive Profile & Biography". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2017-05-11.
  13. ^ "R250m Palazzo Steyn reflects "my confidence in SA's future"". Biznews.com. 2014-12-01. Retrieved 2017-05-11.