Grey College was ranked 1st out of the top 100 best high schools in Africa by Africa Almanac in 2003 and 2013, based upon quality of education, student engagement, strength and activities of alumni, school profile, internet and news visibility.
Grey College was founded on 13 October 1855 when Sir George Grey, the then Governor of the Cape Colony, paid a visit to the Orange Free State Republic and donated a sum of money towards the establishment of an institution for higher education. The foundation stone was laid by Jacobus Nicolaas Boshoff, the second President of the Orange Free State Republic, on 13 October 1856.
Afrikaans- and English-speaking pupils study under one roof, but each language group is educated in separate classrooms and in its own mother tongue.
The college first accepted matriculants for a full B.A. course in 1904. In 1906 the tertiary part of Grey College became known as the Grey University College (GUC), but shortly thereafter the school and college separated. GUC grew and evolved into the institution now called the University of the Free State.
The school grounds consist of a number of historic buildings, of which five are Free State provincial heritage sites: the Main building and Hamilton Hall, the Andrew Murray House, the Brill House and the Tuck shop.