Monash became the first Australian university to be registered as a private higher education institution in South Africa. With his eye on Monash’s global expansion, Vice-Chancellor David Robinson felt the South African campus was key to the University’s long-term vision for itself. He told the Council that the South African campus was ‘the activity which is most defining of the Monash we are trying to create by 2020’.
In the wake of Apartheid, many South African universities were tainted with the legacy of the old regime. Perhaps an Australian university, with no such baggage, could open up higher education to more South Africans, while also taking advantage of the new educational market. Land was purchased near Soweto and plans were made to forge links with disadvantaged black universities, such as President Nelson Mandela’s own Fort Hare. Monash’s South African campus would provide scholarships to help poorer students. But in reality, costs for the new campus were high and its fees steep.
Construction got underway in July 2000. Professor John Anderson, the likable former campus director at Berwick and Gippsland, became the founding Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Monash South Africa (MSA). Anderson was excited for the opportunity to build a new campus from the ground up in a new democracy.
Since 2014, Monash South Africa has not operated as a full campus of Monash University but remains a location where Monash University degrees are delivered, along with qualifications unique to this location.