Armoria academica

PRETORIA UNIVERSITY, Hatfield, Pretoria, Gauteng.


Pretoria University

The arms were registered on 28 April 1978 by the Bureau of Heraldry. The blazon on the certificate reads:

Per chevron Gules and Azure, a pall reversed between dexter three bees placed 1 and 2, sinister three annulets placed 2 and 1 and in base an ox-wagon, Or.

Crest: In front of an anchor cabled Or, an open book proper.

Wreath and mantling: Or and gules.


About the arms:
Pretoria University These arms, drawn up on the initiative of the Students’ Representative Council in 1930 when the institution became an independent university, symbolise in their entirety the Voortrekkers and the states they founded, especially the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek, of which Pretoria was the capital. They also symbolise learning.

The oxwagon in base is the chief symbol of the Voortrekkers. Unfortunately it is an erroneous image, since the wagon shown is a half-tented transport wagon, not a kakebeenwa (with full tent) as used by the Voortrekkers.

The mistake arose in the seal of the Transvaal Colony, and was repeated from that into the 1911 arms of the Transvaal Province (an irregular grant that the Administrator was only informed of years later; see here for a discussion of this). From those arms the wagon (on the same green shield) was taken up into the arms of the Transvaal University College, and has since been part of the university’s symbolism.

The annulets are taken from the family coat of arms of Jan van Riebeeck, founder of the Cape settlement, and symbolises the Cape origins of the Voortrekkers.

The bees appear in the arms of the City of Pretoria, and appear as a symbol of activity and efficiency, as well as the sweet fruits of labour.The bees appear in the arms of the City of Pretoria, and appear as a symbol of activity and efficiency, as well as the sweet fruits of labour.

The crest is taken directly from the arms of the Transvaal University College, and so is the oldest part of the arms associated with this institution.
Pretoria University

The crest anchor is also borrowed from the Cape, and has long been a symbol of the Cape region as a whole. It appears in the crest of the Cape Colony, and also as supporter in the arms which Commissioner-General Jacob Abraham Uitenhage de Mist granted in 1804 to Cape Town and the five drostdijen of the colony.

The book symbolises learning.

The motto translates as: “With zeal and perseverance I strive towards the goal.”

Down the years the university has used various drawings of these arms. The one shown above is described as the “ceremonial arms”. Also currently in use is a drawing (shown above left) which shows only the shield and crest. This is in fact mistaken, as the crest belongs with the helmet, and if the helmet is omitted, only the shield should be displayed. A further error in the “ceremonial arms” is that the crest is disproportionately large above the helmet, while the shield is somewhat too small.

The original drawing of 1930 is shown at right.

The university is currently looking into the question of new symbols.

University flag:
Pretoria University has its own flag, blue above and with the bottom one-third red horizontally, bearing a shield of the arms in the centre. It can be seen here.

About the university:
In terms of Act 13 of 1930 the Transvaal University College became an independent university under the name Pretoria University. The Act became effective on 10 October that year.

The question of language use had been a bone of contention in the college, and the battle for language equality was to continue in the university.

In 1931 only 32% of lectures were in Afrikaans, while 65% of the students were Afrikaans-speaking.

The University Council resolved on 13 September 1932 that the needs of Afrikaans-speaking students should mainly be provided for. The resolution provoked much opposition and antagonised the city council, which made an annual grant. In those years the city council was dominated by English-speaking interests.

The differences were resolved in the long term, and by the 1950s Afrikaans was used virtually throughout the university. English-speaking (and other) students were, however, permitted to write their examinations in English.

In 1930 there were 1 074 students; in 1943 there were 2 000, 4 000 in 1953 and 5 000 in 1956; in 1957 there just less than 6 000, in 1959 more than 7 200; in 1964 more than 9 000 and in 1972 more than 13 000.

In 1930 there were seven faculties; in 1956 there were 11.

The 1950s saw unparalleled expansion, with an extensive building programme which, among other things, created facilities for the new Faculty of Dentistry. Further building continued through the second half of the 20th century.

The Old Arts Building, the very first building erected on the university’s main campus in Hatfield, completed in 1911, is now a historical monument.

Over the past decade and a half the university’s orientation to the Afrikaans language and the white community has changed radically. Postgraduate classes are now taught exclusively in English, while black student numbers were, in the first half of 2002, the highest in South Africa.

The university’s website can be found here.

University nickname:
Under a certificate issued on 26 March 1965 under the Protection of Names, Uniforms and Badges Act (1935), the nickname Tukkie was reserved for the university. For the origin of this nickname, see here.


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Vir Afrikaans, kliek hier

  • Sources: historical notes from the Standard Encyclopædia of Southern Africa.

  • Illustrations provided by Pretoria University.

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    Remarks, inquiries: Mike Oettle

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