The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg is a multi-campus South African public research university situated in the northern areas of central Johannesburg. It is more commonly known as Wits University. The University has its roots in the mining industry, as do Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand in general. Founded in 1896 as the South African School of Mines in Kimberley, it is the third oldest South African university in continuous operation, after the University of Cape Town (founded in 1829), and Stellenbosch University (founded in 1866).
In 1959, the Extension of University Education Act forced restricted registrations of black students for most of the apartheid era; despite this, several notable black leaders graduated from the University. It became desegregated once again prior to the abolition of apartheid in 1990. Several of apartheid's most provocative critics, of either European or African descent, were one-time students and graduates of the University.