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About the South African Education Program



In 1985, the University of Missouri Board of Curators authorized a new educational initiative to aid South Africans disadvantaged by their then-government’s apartheid policies. The board established the University of Missouri South African Education Program (UMSAEP), along with the UMSAEP Committee composed of three members from each of the four campuses: MU, UMKC, Missouri S&T and UMSL. Early in its deliberations, the UMSAEP Committee decided to limit the scope of the program to a single South African university. The committee consulted widely with U.S. experts in business, education and government, and all signals pointed to the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in Cape Town, South Africa.

In June 1986, a formal memorandum of academic cooperation was signed by then UM President C. Peter Magrath and then UWC Rector Jakes Gerwel. This agreement has the distinction of being the first ever developed between a non-white South African university and an American university.

Read more about the UMSAEP history, including participants' testimonials ...

UM/UWC: Reflecting on 30 Years (0:40). Trouble viewing the video in your browser? Click here to view video message on YouTube.


About the University of the Western Cape

The ocean near Cape Town, South Africa

Under the apartheid regime, UWC was established in 1959 as a university for "coloured" (a neutral term in South Africa used to describe anyone of mixed race) students. Not surprisingly, it was badly underfunded at the time. Nonetheless, UWC was one of the intellectual centers of the anti-apartheid movement. The end of the apartheid government witnessed a rise in UWC’s stature. Indeed, almost one-third of President Mandela’s initial cabinet were faculty members of UWC. Under the leadership of Rector Brian O’Connell, UWC has made remarkable progress.

Today, with its autonomous status, UWC is open to all South Africans and operates under a non-racial democratic philosophy. It is recognized as one of the top ranked universities in South Africa with a well-earned, continuing reputation as one of the intellectual centers opposing apartheid's effects. Archbishop Desmond Tutu served as the chancellor of the university for many years.

For a more detailed look at campus turmoil that led to the creation of the UMSAEP, see this 2007 article.

Learn more about UWC. Visit the UWC website (exit the UM System website).


Visit the separate Contacts webpage for information about campus coordinators, UMSAEP Committee chairs and members and program staff.

Reviewed 2019-10-09