The University of Cape Town was founded in 1829 as the South African College, a high school for boys.
The College had a small tertiary-education facility that grew substantially after 1880, when the discovery of gold and diamonds in the north - and the resulting demand for skills in mining - gave it the financial boost it needed to grow. The College developed into a fully fledged university during the period 1880 to 1900, thanks to increased funding from private sources and the government.
UCT was formally established as a university in 1918, on the basis of the Alfred Beit bequest and additional substantial gifts from mining magnates Julius Wernher and Otto Beit. The new university also attracted substantial support from well-wishers in the Cape Town area and, for the first time, a significant state grant.
Ten years later, in 1928, the university was able to move the bulk of its facilities to the magnificent site at Groote Schuur on the slopes of Devil's Peak on land bequeathed to the nation by Cecil John Rhodes as the site for a national university, where it celebrated its centenary the following year.