Historically the University of the Western Cape (UWC) was one of South Africa's 'black' universities.
Under apartheid, it provided those the state classified as 'black' or 'coloured' with what was considered to be a 'dumbed down' university education. In the 1980s, the university became the intellectual home for the struggle against apartheid.
Once apartheid had ended, the university lost its way, was declared bankrupt and threatened with closure. At this point, former UWC student Brian O'Connell became vice-chancellor.
Since then, through a strategy of securing outside funding and focusing on those areas of research in which the university excels, UWC has been transformed into one of Africa's top universities.
This and other content in the Africa's PhD Renaissance Series is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.