University of Port Elizabeth

The University of Port Elizabeth (UPE) was a public university located in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. UPE was founded on 31 January 1964, by an act of parliament, and held its first academic year in 1965.[1] It offered bachelor's degrees, as well as masters and doctoral degrees. The university closed down in 2004, with its campuses forming part of the Nelson Mandela University, which opened in 2005.

University of Port Elizabeth
Universiteit van Port Elizabeth
iNyuvesi yaseBhayi
UPE logo old.svg
Former names
Port Elizabeth Art School
MottoNulli cessura fides (Latin)
Motto in English
Unyielding Faith
TypePublic University
CampusUrban and Suburban
LanguageEnglish and Afrikaans
ColoursBlue, Black and White      


The university was founded as a dual medium institution, offering courses in both English and Afrikaans, catering for white students. Prior to UPE being established, Rhodes University offered courses in Port Elizabeth. The governing National Party, wanted a new university, as it attempted to limit the influence of Rhodes, which was seen as too liberal.[2] From 1994[3] until 2004 the Chaplain of the university was Diana Nkesiga, a female,[4] Anglican priest who had been ordained in Uganda.[5]

In 2001, the University of Port Elizabeth gained control of Dower College of Education. This was in line with a plan for education colleges to become divisions of universities and technikons.[6]

As part of the government's plan for higher education, Vista University's Port Elizabeth campus was merged into UPE in 2004.[7]

In 2003, the merger proposal for Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) was announced.[8]

UPE effectively shut down after the 2004 academic year, and was merged with Port Elizabeth Technikon on 1 January 2005.[8]


The initial campus of the university was located in Bird Street, in Central, Port Elizabeth, which had previously been used by Rhodes University.[2]

In January 1974, the university moved to a newly built campus, on 800 hectares of land in Summerstrand.[2]

The Bird Street campus was sold off during the 1990s.[2]

The Dower campus would later become part of Bethelsdorp Technical College,[9] which was ultimately merged into Port Elizabeth College in 2002.[10]

The Vista campus was gained through the merger with Vista University's Port Elizabeth campus.[7]

Following the NMMU merger, the main UPE campus became the South Campus of the new university. Vista campus became Missionvale campus, after initially being named Uitenhage Road campus.[11] The Bird Street campus was reacquired, and became the Business School.

The University of Port Elizabeth campus was the largest university campus in the Southern Hemisphere.[12]


UPE operated six faculties. These were, the faculties of arts, education, economic sciences, science, law and health sciences.[12]


UPE offered many sports, including football, rugby and cricket. The main campus housed the University of Port Elizabeth Stadium, which was equipped with an all weather running track and flood lights. The university also ran a professional football club, FCK-UPE, in collaboration with F.C. Copenhagen.


  1. ^ "The University of Port Elizabeth is founded". South African History Online. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d "UNIVERSITY OF PORT ELIZABETH". Geo Cities. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  3. ^ Rwakabukoza, Rebecca (30 March 2013). "Rev. Diana Nkesiga: Bringing femininity to the pulpit". Daily Monitor. Kampala, Uganda. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  4. ^ "The view from pulpit and pew". Diocese of Port Elizabeth, Port Elizabeth, South Africa: Lindaba. June 2004. Archived from the original on 16 December 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  5. ^ Mazinga, Mathias (29 November 2014). "The Revs Nkesiga on their 25-year marital journey". Kampala, Uganda: New Vision. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  6. ^ "Education colleges to become part of varsities". News24. 19 December 2000. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Missionvale Campus". Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  8. ^ a b "Asmal announces names of merging institutions". 22 October 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  9. ^ "Dower Campus". Port Elizabeth College. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  10. ^ "New mega college has practical vision" (PDF). Port Elizabeth College. 27 December 2002. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  11. ^ "NMMU puts out campus names for comment". Eastern Cape Development Corporation. 21 October 2004. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  12. ^ a b "University of Port Elizabeth". Study South Africa. 27 December 2002. Retrieved 2 December 2013.

Coordinates: 34°00′30″S 25°40′14″E / 34.008416°S 25.670586°E / -34.008416; 25.670586