The University of Venda, situated in Thohoyandou in the scenic Vhembe district of the Limpopo Province of South Africa was established in 1982. The university has ever experienced tremendous growth and change. From its early years, staff members were drawn from various backgrounds in South Africa but by 1994 staff members were increasingly recruited from other African countries and over seas.
The presence on campus of staff from diverse backgrounds created a unique atmosphere and a fertile environment for new ideas and a capacity for change.
During this time the institution remained a traditional university that offered a full-range of courses straddling the humanities, social sciences, natural and applied sciences.
With the advent of democracy in 1994 and a new leadership at the helm, Univen embarked on a process of accelerated transformation. From 1995 the university shifted its focus to science and technology, resulting in the introduction of new programmes with an increase in student enrolment in the natural and applied sciences.
In 2002, the Department of Education mandated the institution to transform into a comprehensive university that offers career-focused programmes. Prior to its new mandate, Univen had already taken a step to establish some career-focused programmes with emphasis on science and technology.
During each stage of transformation the university aligned its vision and mission to the needs of the community at local, regional, national, continental and international levels. This process of transformation created significant changes in administrative governance and in the size and shape of the curriculum. It also attracted better qualified staff and resulted in improved student profile.
To date the university has established itself as a national asset through its niche on problem oriented, project based curriculum with a strength in nurturing under prepared students into nationally competitive graduates. The university has therefore become and important player in the South African higher education landscape, contributing significantly to the human resources and development needs of the country and region.