The institution is being built in a partnership between Unisa and Ray Nkonyeni Municipality.
Unisa announced in Pretoria yesterday plans to build a new campus on the south coast, on land donated by the municipality.
The donated land is about 6hectares, 500m from the seaside, 1km from Margate and 7km from Port Shepstone.
Although much work still needs to be done, including architectural plans, the mayor of Ray Nkonyeni Municipality, Nomusa Mqwebu, said she hoped the university would be up and running by 2020.
She said South Coast youth were suffering due to a lack of tertiary education opportunities close to them.
“When I meet young people from our area, the lack of tertiary institutions is their biggest complaint. If you know KZN and where we are located you will appreciate why there has been such a call for a tertiary institution to be located in our area. From Port Shepstone/Margate, Durban is just over 120km away,” she said.
She said the distance made it difficult in terms of time and transport costs for young people to attend institutions in Durban .
“Given the poverty levels, even to go there in search of access to these academic institutions is a nightmare,” she said.
“Our education levels show that the absence of tertiary institutions in our area has a negative impact - the 2016 Community Survey shows only about 4% of Ray Nkonyeni Municipality’s population have any post-matric qualification.”
Unisa vice-chancellor Professor Mandla Makhanya said the new campus would alleviate pressure at their Durban campus. It has another campus in Pietermaritzburg as well as rental facilities near Richards Bay and Newcastle.
“If you look at the numbers at our Durban campus, it’s bursting at the seams. A lot of these students come from the South Coast,” he said.