- In the early 1990’s, the University was inundated with requests from working adults for programmes that would allow them to learn, gain knowledge and qualifications so that they can improve their work performance and perhaps further get better pay and/or promotion. These adults wanted to work, study and earn at the same time.
- The first attempt by UNISWA to address this was to start the Diploma in Law programme, which was taught by the full time staff in the Department of Law, specifically for working Police Officers.
- The requests continued for other programs such as Business, Education, Humanities, etc., while at the same time the University was facing a crisis at admissions time. The crises was caused by the fact that many candidates who applied had good grades and qualified for admission, while the University was unable to cater for the demand for places, as the UNISWA physical facilities could only take a small number of students.
- Further, the University was getting inadequate funds from the Government and from other sources, to build the additional facilities that were required, or to expand and extend those that existed.
- In terms of the law (See UNISWA Act 1983), one of the primary functions of UNISWA is to ensure that higher education is accessible to all qualifying Swazi citizens irrespective of their geographical location, age, gender, colour, creed, socio economic status, and disability.
- To comply with the Law and address the problems, UNISWA established the Institute of Distance Education in 1994. The IDE was established specifically to provide educational and training opportunities for individuals who had been unable to undertake conventional and professional university programmes and courses.
- The individuals targeted included people who were:
- in full-time employment and could not attend classes on a full time basis.
- those who were self employed and also could not attend University on a full time basis.
- those who were unemployed and needed further education and training to get employment and/or to improve their lives, and
- post high school graduates who wished to enrol at the University but because of the shortage of places and the high cut-off points on the full time programmes could not be admitted.