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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A technikon was a post-secondary institute of technology (polytech) in South Africa. It focused on career-oriented vocational training.[1][2] There were 15 technikons in the 1990s, but they have been merged or restructured as universities (especially universities of technology) in the early 2000s.


The word comes from the Greek technikon, meaning ‘technical’.[3][4] (cf. Some technical schools were called technikums elsewhere in the world.)

List of technikons

Institute Existence Now
Border Technikon
← Ciskei Technikon, 1980s
1987[1]–2005 Walter Sisulu University
Cape Technikon
Afrikaans: Kaapse Technikon
→ technikon, 1979
Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Eastern Cape Technikon
← Transkei Technikon
1991[1]–2005 Walter Sisulu University
Peninsula Technikon 1962-2005
→ technikon, 1979[1]
Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Port Elizabeth Technikon
(PE Technikon)
→ technikon, 1979
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Technikon Pretoria 1968–2004
→ technikon, 1979
Tshwane University of Technology
Technikon Natal 1907–2002
→ technikon, 1979
Durban Institute of Technology
Technikon North-West
← Setlogelo Technikon, 1994–97
→ technikon, 1994
Tshwane University of Technology
Technikon Northern Gauteng
← Technikon Northern Transvaal, –1997
1980[1]–2004 Tshwane University of Technology
Technikon SA
(Technikon South Africa)
← Technikon RSA, 1980–93
1980[5]–2004 University of South Africa
Technikon Free State
Technikon Vrystaat, 1994-2004
← Technikon OFS / OVS, 1988-1994
1988?–2004 Central University of Technology
ML Sultan Technikon 1946–2002
→ technikon, 1979
Durban Institute of Technology
Mangosuthu Technikon 1979[1]–2001 Mangosuthu University of Technology
Vaal Triangle Technikon
Vaaldriehoekse Technikon
→ technikon, 1979
Vaal University of Technology
Witwatersrand Technikon 1923–2005
→ technikon, 1979
University of Johannesburg

In some sources, certain school names were reversed, e.g., Technikon Pretoria or Pretoria Technikon. Likewise, Witwatersrand Technikon or Technikon Witwatersrand; Natal Technikon or Technikon Natal; Free State Technikon or Technikon Free State.


Some technical colleges were founded in the early to mid-20th century in the country. In 1967, four technical colleges (Cape, Pretoria, Witwatersrand and Natal) became "colleges of advanced technical education". Two more such colleges (Vaal and Witwatersrand) were added by 1969. These six colleges became the first technikons in 1979.[6]

In the 1980s and 1990s, 9 more technikons were constituted,[6] bringing up the total to 15.

Compared to universities, technikons were not seen as prestigious. The Committee of Technikon Principals felt that "the name technikon had become a stumbling block", as their graduates were not recognized by professional associations, especially internationally.[7]

Mergers and reorganisations announced in 2002 caused the number of technikons to be drastically reduced.[8] By 2006, in a process to transform the nation’s "higher education landscape", there were no technikons left.

Student compositions

During Apartheid, the schools were divided into historically white technikons (HWTs) and historically black technikons (HBTs). The seven white technikons include the 'big four' (Cape, Pretoria, Witwatersrand and Natal), which had the most students (6000–11000 in 1991). The other white technikons were Free State, Port Elizabeth, and Vaal Triangle. SA was for distance learning, with a slight majority of whites.[9][5]

Northern Gauteng and Mangosuthu were black technikons. Technically HBTs, Peninsula was mostly attended by Coloureds, and ML Sultan mostly by Indians. Three technikons were created in bantustans and had the lowest enrollments: Border (Ciskei), Eastern Cape (Transkei), and North-West (initially named Setlogelo; in Bophuthatswana).[9]


In 1993, the Technikon Act (No. 125) enabled technikons to provide degree studies and confer degrees. Several technikon programmes were possible:

  • national higher certificate (2 years)
  • national diploma (3 years): 75% of technikon enrollments were in this diploma.[6]
    • 2 years of theoretical training, and
    • 1 year of experiential training with an industrial employer[1]
  • national higher diploma (4 years)
  • bachelor’s degree in technology (B-Tech: 4 years)
  • in some schools: master’s degree (M-Tech: 1 year minimum)
  • in some schools: doctoral degree (D-Tech: 2 years minimum).[10]

White technikons and ML Sultan Technikon offered degrees at all three levels (bachelor’s, master’s and doctorates), but others did not.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela; Kimberly Lenease King (2001). Apartheid No More. Greenwood. p. 143. ISBN 978-0-89789-713-6.
  2. ^ Nico Cloete; Richard Fehnel; Peter Maassen (2006). Transformation in Higher Education. Taylor & Francis. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-4020-4005-4. The intellectual agendas of these […] black technikons was similar to those of the historically white technikons. […] vocational training programmes […] They undertook no research and offered little by way of postgraduate training.
  3. ^ Alan Pittendrigh (1988). Technikons in South Africa. Building Industries Federation. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-620-13170-4. After due consideration and consultation the name technikon was proposed, a name which was derived from the Greek and goes back to the masculine form of the Greek adjective technikos, of which the feminine form is technike ...
  4. ^ "Definition of technikon". Oxford Dictionary on Lexico. Greek, noun use of the neuter of tekhnikos ‘relating to skills’.
  5. ^ a b Keith Harry (11 September 2002). Higher Education Through Open and Distance Learning. Routledge. p. 102. ISBN 978-1-134-64144-4. Technikon SA was established an autonomous tertiary education institution in 1980, prior to which it had functioned as the external studies facilities of the Technikon Witwatersrand.
  6. ^ a b c Neil Garrod; Bruce Macfarlane (2009). Challenging Boundaries. Routledge. p. 129. ISBN 978-1-135-85822-3.
  7. ^ Rupert Maclean (2009). International Handbook of Education for the Changing World of Work. Springer Science. p. 972. ISBN 978-1-4020-5281-1. Among the problems listed [by the principals] were that technikons were seen as inferior to universities, [… recognition issues], and that technikons were seen as a second or third choice after universities.
  8. ^ Neil Garrod (2009). Challenging Boundaries. Routledge. p. 131. ISBN 978-1-135-85822-3. The restructured system [announced in Dec. 2002] would consist of twenty-four institutions, consisting of eleven universities, six comprehensive universities, five technikons, and two higher education institutes in provinces without a higher education institution (Council on Higher Education 2004: 39–58).
  9. ^ a b Cooper, Dave (1994). "What do South African technikons do?" (PDF).
  10. ^ OECD (2008). Reviews of National Policies for Education. p. 334. ISBN 978-92-64-05352-6.

The years for some older school names are from:

This page was last edited on 5 April 2021, at 00:09
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