About

History

The Graduate School of Business Leadership (SBL) is an autonomous academic department within the College of Economic and Management Sciences of the University South Africa (UNISA). UNISA is South Africa’s largest university and one of the eleven mega-distance teaching universities in the world.

The University was established in Cape Town in 1873 as the University of the Cape of Good Hope and changed its name to the University of South Africa in 1916. UNISA moved to Pretoria in 1918 and under its auspices several colleges became autonomous (residential) universities in the South African higher (or tertiary) education system.

In 1946, UNISA pioneered tertiary distance education — a move which heralded the beginning of the University as it is known today. Distance education provides a unique opportunity for all who wish to further their studies and who cannot attend residential institutions because of personal circumstances or occupational obligations. Given the political history of South Africa and the legacy of the apartheid years, UNISA has played a very important role in giving access to high quality tertiary education to previously disadvantaged groups.

In 1965, following the advice and active support of senior South African business leaders, UNISA decided to introduce a Master’s Degree in Business Leadership (MBL) in the Department of Business Economics of the then Faculty of Commerce and Administration. The success of this programme, coupled with the unique characteristics associated with a multi-disciplinary Degree, led in 1969 to the establishment of the SBL as an autonomous body within the Faculty.

As its name and that of its flagship programme (the MBL) indicate, the emphasis from the start has been on leadership development as opposed to administration. It is significant to note that, at the time, the SBL was the first business school in the world to offer high quality, Masters level business education by means of a combination of distance and part-time tuition (a model which has subsequently been imitated by numerous business schools around the world). The SBL is widely regarded as one of the top three business schools in South Africa. Since its inception it has produced more than a third of all the MBL/MBA Degrees awarded by South African universities.