Accreditation of the NWU’s LLB programme
18 April 2017
During 2016 there was a national review process of all LLB programmes offered at all universities in South Africa. On 30 March 2017 the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) approved the findings of the National Reviews Committee (NRC) with regard to the LLB programme at the NWU, namely that the LLB programme be put on notice of withdrawal of accreditation. This is also applicable to three other universities. All other universities were accredited with conditions.
It must be emphasised that this does not mean that the HEQC has withdrawn the accreditation status of the LLB or that the future withdrawal is inevitable. Not at all.
The NRC has identified issues which it deems to be of a serious nature, and if the NWU does not address them adequately, the HEQC may withdraw the accreditation status of the programme. In summary, the reasons for placing the programme on notice of withdrawal include:
- There is significant evidence of inequity between the two sites of delivery in Potchefstroom and Mahikeng in terms of access; provision of curriculum delivery, teaching, learning and assessment; the profiles of staff in respect of seniority, qualifications and scholarly reputation; the quality assurance of the programme; articulation between the sites; infrastructure and other learning resources. Institutional restructuring aimed at addressing such issues has not yet manifested itself in the Faculty of Law.
- There is a lack of substantive integration, in the programme as a whole as well as on the Potchefstroom Campus, between students of different racial groups, and a sense of alienation felt by students of particular groups. At Potchefstroom, a group of mainly black students receiving tuition through the medium of interpreting from Afrikaans to English, felt “accommodated” rather than fully accepted and integrated in the academic space.
- Throughout the programme relatively low admission requirements are not supplemented with adequate student support.
The NWU recognises that these matters need to be attended to urgently and will engage constructively with the HEQC review findings in order to develop an appropriate improvement plan and strategy by 6 October 2017. During the strategy development process which the NWU engaged in recently, most of these issues were recognised.
The NWU Council adopted a new strategy in November 2015, which aims to establish a new structure and operating model. Our strategy is to build a unitary university with aligned programmes and equity of provision, resources and student experience. Council has approved a new structure and the Minister of Higher Education and Training has approved a new Statute that gives effect to this unitary structure. A main feature of this new structure is that a single executive dean will be responsible for a faculty which spans all three campuses of the NWU. This will ensure that programmes are fully aligned and managed across all campuses.
As part of the self-evaluation process, the NWU drafted a provisional improvement plan and implementation of certain objectives therein has already taken place. The university management will lend its full support to the faculty in its development and implementation of the final improvement plan. The NWU sees the national review process as an opportunity to improve on the quality of the current programme.
It must be emphasised that the NWU will continue to offer the LLB degree, which is still accredited. Students are therefore encouraged to apply for admission for the 2018 academic year.
On the positive side, it should be noted that the report confirmed that the NWU LLB programme meets the requirements for a qualification at NQF exit level 8. As far as the required graduate attributes with regard to knowledge, skills and applied competence are concerned, the following findings were made:
The panel is satisfied that the LLB programme at the Potchefstroom and at the Mafikeng campuses appropriately imparts to students a comprehensive and sound knowledge and understanding of South African law and its associated values and of its historical background. It is also satisfied that all of the basic areas of law, as listed in the LLB Standard, have been adequately covered.
It is recommended, however, that the inclusion of more non-law modules should be investigated and that as many as possible students at the Potchefstroom Campus should be exposed to real/actual clients in the Legal Practice module. It is also recommended that the module Street Law should be offered at both Potchefstroom and Mafikeng as electives to ensure that students are adequately exposed to social justice issues and law as an instrument to effect change in society. At Potchefstroom, the exposure of students to real/actual clients should also help students to internalise the notion and demands of transformative constitutionalism. The report also noted that although identical assessments were not required in terms of the NWU model up to now (the same external moderators were utilised), the introduction of the same summative assessments should receive urgent attention under the new unitary faculty.
The panel is satisfied that sufficient attention is paid to teaching and learning and assessment to the inculcation of critical thinking skills in the various modules. The inclusion of a required Research Essay for all final-year students are commended. Although the report commends the fact that Language Skills in Legal Context is taught in six semester modules in the first three years of the LLB programme, these modules should consistently be offered by lecturers within the Faculty of Law across campuses. The report also notes that a variety of assessments should be employed and that assignments, that require independent critical thinking, should be widely used even though there are challenges pertaining to workload, plagiarism and so forth.
- Applied competences
The panel is satisfied that the conceptualisation and overall design of the programme sufficiently address the areas of applied competence listed in the LLB Standard.
I have every confidence that with a concerted effort, the LLB programme will be accredited once the structural changes have been effected and the improvement plan implemented.
I will meet with all law faculty staff and students during the course of this week and after these initial discussions, they will constantly be kept abreast of any developments in this regard.
Prof Dan Kgwadi, Vice-Chancellor of the NWU
New Statute of the North-West University published in the Government Gazette
28 March 2017
The new statute of the North-West University (NWU) was published in the Government Gazette on Friday 24 March 2017 and therefore promulgated and brought into effect.
This was the culmination of three years' work which first saw a new strategy and then a new structure adopted by the NWU Council. This formed the basis of the new statute, which has been approved by the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande.
The statute prescribes, inter alia, how the NWU is to be governed, who the office bearers are, how employees are to be appointed, remunerated and disciplined, the role of trade unions, student affairs and the conferring of honorary degrees and awards.
The promulgation of the statute enables the newly approved structure to be fully implemented.
Image left: Prof Dan Kgwadi (Vice-Chancellor of the NWU) receives the statute from Prof Marlene Verhoef (Institutional Registrar)
Progress regarding NSFAS applications
1 February 2017
A meeting involving members of the EXCO of Universities South Africa (USAf), the chairperson of the NSFAS Board and representatives of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) was convened on Saturday, 28 January 2017 to discuss the backlogs that had developed in the processing of financial aid applications made by first-time entering students and returning students.
A serious concern was expressed about the fact that some academically deserving students who were awaiting news from NSFAS might lose their places in academic programmes and/or residences to fee-paying students.
NSFAS is reasonably confident that it will complete the allocation of financial aid packages to first-time entering students within six days, in other words by this coming Friday, 3 February 2017.
Returning students who have previously been assisted by NSFAS, and are meeting the funding conditions stipulated by NSFAS, can proceed with registration.
You are once again assured that the North-West University (NWU) is in constant dialogue with NSFAS and is committed to ensure that as many students as possible can be assisted to register. USAf is also addressing outstanding issues with NSFAS collectively on behalf of all universities in South Africa.
Even though it must be stressed that the NWU has to remain within the amount allocated to us by NSFAS, the university remains committed to assist as far as possible academically deserving students.
You will be kept informed of any new developments.
31 January 2017
Media freedom and the people’s right to freedom of speech are central pillars of our democracy. The online media channels, in particular, present us with opportunities to communicate and disseminate information to our stakeholders and the public. The media industry, across the world, is experiencing a proliferation of fake online websites and social media accounts whose objective is to spread misinformation and damage the reputation of organisations and/or persons. We continue to monitor the media landscape and coverage of the NWU across all media channels and believe that we are well positioned to detect any fake sites purporting to belong to or represent the NWU. We call upon staff and students to report any suspected fake news sites or accounts to Mr Louis Jacobs, Director: Corporate Communication at firstname.lastname@example.org or 018 299 4918.
The NWU has approved several social media accounts which serve as information and knowledge-sharing platforms among staff and students. Most interaction and views shared via the NWU online platforms are constructive and comply with the university’s rules and codes of conduct. However, there are still a few individuals, within and outside the university, who are continuously spreading misinformation about the NWU on social media. The university will institute legal action against these individuals to ensure that they do not succeed in tarnishing the NWU brand. We remain steadfast in ensuring that the NWU remains one of the higher education institutions whose students and graduates enjoy respect in South Africa and globally.
Although the NWU encourages robust debate and dialogue among students and staff regarding issues affecting the entire university community, the expression of views must not advocate or incite violence or cause harm to other members of the NWU community. Students and staff must desist from promoting and supporting views or statements aimed at creating hatred of other groups based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and religion.
Apart from all other existing channels, staff and students are encouraged to make use of the official social media platforms for accurate information.
NSFAS 2017 application status
25 January 2017
The new academic year is off to a good start with enthusiastic students registering on all three of the NWU’s campuses. As on 25 January more than 6 000 first-years have already enrolled as part of the total of close to 12 000 NWU students that have already registered so far. The NWU’s target for first-year enrolments for 2017 is 8 894.
The NWU is in constant dialogue with NSFAS and is committed to ensure that as many students as possible can be assisted to register.
The new NSFAS centred model, in line with the Minister of Higher Education and Training’s commitment to financially assist more needy students, including the missing middle, became effective in January 2017. For 2017 NSFAS allocated R270 871 000, excluding assistance to final year students, to the NWU.
All applications were done online to NSFAS and NSFAS was responsible for selection and approval of new students.
According to the latest reports received on 12 Jan 2017 from NSFAS, 8 699 students who intend to study at the NWU, applied to them either electronically or submitted a hard copy application. This includes all potential new first-year students and senior students that did not receive NSFAS funding in 2016. Students that did receive NSFAS funding in 2016 are eligible for funding in 2017 if they met the academic criteria (pass 50% of their modules) and are within the N+2 study year rule.
A total of 5 209 NSFAS supported first-year students applied to study at the NWU, of those 3 044 were admitted, with more than 2 700 senior students who receive NSFAS support that applied.
Assisting as many as possible needy students is a priority. This has already been seen in 2016. Due to the introduction of the First Time Entrant (FTE)fund in 2016, an additional 1 794 new students were assisted in 2016. This caused more senior students to be in the system for 2017. In the past the NWU used a 70/30 split where 70% of funding was allocated to senior students and 30% to first year students. When NSFAS did their selection and approval for 2017, they used an 80/20 split. The large number of FTE students in the system forced the NWU to an 80/20 split, meaning NSFAS provided less funding for first-year students in 2017 to be assisted.
Included in the list of already approved students are 99 senior students that did not receive NSFAS funding in prior years. Of the 99 we have identified 34 students with outstanding debt and we have requested NSFAS to investigate alternative sources to assist those students. We are awaiting their final approval in this regard.
We have submitted the results of senior students to NSFAS and await the final list of the approved senior students.
There is also a channel for academically deserving students who did not receive NSFAS funding and are not able to pay the minimum required registration fees. Their cases are handled on merit by financial registration committees on each of the NWU’s three campuses. The committees aim to help students to register as long as they can make sufficient arrangements to pay the registration fees as soon as possible.
We thank all our students and staff for your patience and assistance in ensuring a successful registration process. We will keep you informed about any NSFAS developments.
For the latest update from NSFAS please click here
Missing middle fee adjustment grant
24 January 2017
The Department of Higher Education training fee adjustment grant - 2017
11 January 2017
Following our previous communique on the increase of tuition fees for 2017, this clarifies the application process for the missing middle fee adjustment grant.
Government will pay the fee increase capped at 8% for all qualifying registered students with a gross combined family income up to R600 000 per annum in 2017. This is a grant and will not have to be repaid by qualifying students. The grant will only cover tuition fees and accommodation provided by universities.
- Only South African citizens and citizens with permanent South African residence permits, studying towards an undergraduate or postgraduate qualification in 2017.
- The applicant and direct family (mother, father, spouse or legal guardians) who have a GROSS combined family income of R600 000 or less per annum before tax deductions.
Who qualifies, but does not have to apply for the grant?
The following students will not have to apply for the grant, as they will automatically be considered:
- Applicants who applied for NSFAS funding.
- All students who attended Quintile 1, 2 and 3 schools in Grade 12.
Who do not qualify and can't apply for the grant?
Students who are recipients of bursaries and scholarships that cover their tuition and accommodation fees can’t apply for the grant, as their bursaries or scholarships have to cover the full percentage fee adjustment.
All other students will have to apply for the fee adjustment grant.
How does one apply?
- All applications will have to be submitted on the relevant application form obtainable from the NWU website (click here) or at the financial support offices on the respective campuses. Applications have already opened, and the closing date is 28 February 2017 for the first semester and 30 August 2017 for students who have to register for the second semester.
- Applications can be electronically submitted to the following email addresses:
- Mafikeng Campus: email@example.com
- Potchefstroom Campus: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Vaal Triangle Campus: email@example.com
- The grant will reflect on the student account once the student has been verified as a qualifying grant recipient. The outcome of the application will be known within the first quarter of 2017.
- All applications must include certified copies of IDs of the parents/spouses and/or legal guardians, as well as the student. Incomplete applications will not be considered.
- Parents, spouses and legal guardians will be requested to acknowledge that they understand that personal information will be requested and provided to third parties who will assist the university with verifying income and that their signature to the application constitutes express written consent.
- All parties (father/mother/spouse/legal guardians/student) must complete and sign the application.
- Students whose applications are unsuccessful may appeal within 14 days of the outcome of the decision by completing an appeal form that will be available on the university's website.
- The financial sustainability of universities is at risk if students do not pay their fees and outstanding debt.
- As in the past, all students are required to pay registration and minimum payable fees upon registration. Only NSFAS-approved students and students funded by other approved sponsors are exempted from these payments. Documented proof will have to be submitted.
- Academically deserving students who are struggling to pay their registration fees and/or outstanding debt must engage with the university's Finance Office to agree upon a repayment plan. During the registration process assistance will be available on campuses.
- Universities have been requested to manage student debt through fair and transparent debt management policies and processes in order to ensure that all outstanding student debt is recovered within a reasonable and acceptable period.
Please direct any enquiries to:
018 389 2330 / 2372
018 299 2052 / 2046 / 2045
VAAL TRIANGLE CAMPUS:
016 910 3157
Tuition fees and registration 2017
18 November 2016
During the NWU Council meeting on 17 November 2016, the proposed university budget for 2017, based on an in-depth analysis of the university’s financial position, was approved. As part of the budget, an annual tuition and residence fee increase of 8% was also approved. In principle this means that all NSFAS-qualifying students, as well as the “missing middle” students (i.e. those students whose households earn above the NSFAS threshold but less than R600 000 per year), will experience no fee increase for 2017. The approved increase will be paid by government to the university in the form of a grant (so-called gap funding), and will reflect as a credit on these students’ accounts. Students with full-cost bursaries and students with a household income that exceeds R600 000, will not qualify for the gap funding. As in the past, all students are required to pay registration and minimum payable fees upon registration. Only NSFAS-approved students and students funded by other approved sponsors are exempt from these payments, and will have to provide documentation as proof during registration.
1. Assistance during the registration process
1.1 Students with bursaries (other than approved NSFAS students)
Students who have been granted bursaries (other than approved NSFAS students as per the centralised application process), must submit corroborative documentation of the particular bursary during registration. Where an outstanding balance is payable for the previous year, students will be allowed to register if the bursary providers have undertaken in writing to pay for the outstanding amount as well.
1.2 Students with bank loans and Eduloan (Fundi)
Corroborative documentation of loans must be submitted during registration. Where an outstanding balance is payable for the previous year, students will be allowed to register if the loan makes provision for payment of the outstanding amount as well.
1.3 Individual student cases
As in the past, there will be formal structures, such as the registration committee (on which the Campus Student Representative Councils will also be represented), on each of the NWU’s three campuses, to decide about individual cases. Each case will be considered on merit, taking into account the availability of funds. Only students who have not been able to register for whatever financial reason will be referred to these structures. The aim is to enable as many academically deserving and financially needy students as possible to register in 2017.
The assessment of these individual cases will include among others the consideration of the academic performance of the student and instances where only a few modules are still outstanding for completion of a qualification.
When a student qualifies for a merit bursary for an amount that will cover at least the first payment, that student will be allowed to register.
The Realpay instalment option will also be available as an alternative method to pay fees by means of a signed debit order over a period of time. Registration fees are however still payable. Please note that terms and conditions are applicable.
2. Outstanding debt
The NWU makes a serious appeal to parents and students to make urgent arrangements for the payment of all outstanding fees. This is to ensure that students can continue their studies and receive their degrees upon completion.
It will not be possible for all students to register, notwithstanding all the resources and processes mentioned above. Students who - despite best effort to resolve their issues - go through the whole process without finding solutions, may still not be able to register.
3. "Missing middle" students
Students whose households earn above the NSFAS threshold, but who earn less than R600 000 per year, will be requested to apply for the gap funding (to cover only the fee increase), by means of an official application process at the NWU.
This application process for missing middle students will be communicated in due course in a separate communique. In the meantime please note that the following documentation must be supplied as supporting evidence of household income upon application: salary advices of parents/guardians, certified copies of their IDs, together with a form indicating consent to enable the university to conduct a credit check, if necessary.
4. International students
International students, including SADC students, will not qualify for the fee-adjustment grant.
We understand our students’ concerns about unaffordable tuition fees, but the NWU, like any other institution, needs to maintain financial sustainability in order to continue with its core business and to remain a national asset. This core business entails producing ground-breaking research and rendering quality education – while shaping the lives of our students – to ensure that we deliver well-rounded graduates.
The NWU acknowledges the initiatives of government to absorb the fee increment for the poor and the missing middle for 2017 and supports the effort to make higher education progressively affordable in future.
Apart from this, management also remains committed to assist our students, and would like to encourage them and their parents/guardians to approach us to ensure that all avenues are explored to enable students to register and continue with their studies.
The management of the university wishes all our stakeholders a wonderful festive season and prosperous 2017.
Please direct any enquiries to:
018 389 2020/ 2478
018 299 2667/ 2668/ 2669/ 2670/ 2671/ 2672/ 2673
VAAL TRIANGLE CAMPUS:
016 910 3155/ 3530