A year of continued solidarity and hope
3 February 2021
I trust that you are well. Welcome to the 2021 academic year. I hope you are reinvigorated and ready to tackle the challenges and opportunities of this academic year. Regrettably, we are still in the midst of a pandemic and the lockdown, which will undoubtedly continue to affect our operations negatively. We remain a contact university and would like to see a full return to our campuses – offices and classrooms – as soon as the situation allows. We are going to strive to continue to provide the differentiated student value proposition and quality student experience for which the North-West University (NWU) is renowned.
In the meantime, the situation remains devastating and full of challenges and unpredictability. In my communication of 28 January 2021, I announced that we had lost two members of the NWU family to Covid-19. Our cumulative figures of members of the NWU family who have either tested positive or have been exposed to Covid-19 are growing daily. Let us continue to comply with the necessary regulations and protocols.
We will continue with the delivery of our programmes in the limited-contact teaching-learning modality for Semester 1 as per my communication of 26 January 2021: Amendment of teaching-learning for the first semester 2021. Let us use the experiences and lessons of 2020 regarding online teaching-learning to achieve a successful 2021 academic year.
Council approved the NWU Teaching-Learning Strategy at the end of 2020. To this end, the revision of the Teaching, Learning and Assessment Rules, and the faculties’ teaching-learning plans will take place during 2021. I wish all involved in the revision a smooth and successful process. This is a crucial initiative for our academic project.
Regarding research and innovation it is encouraging that despite Covid-19 challenges, the NWU publication submissions for 2020 were almost the same as the total output of 2019. This may improve when more publications are submitted during February 2021, resulting in a better performance for 2020 compared to 2019. I want to thank staff and students for this achievement. Let us make 2021 even better. I know it is not going to be easy, but I urge all our postgraduate students and staff to find inventive ways to continue with their research and innovation.
The finalisation and implementation of our digital business strategy (DBS) should gain momentum during this academic year. It is envisioned that the full roll-out of the DBS will enable us to enhance the delivery of our programmes and services, including those mentioned above.
The higher-education sector is experiencing difficulties that are affecting both staff and students. We are working with various stakeholders in the sector, including the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), to find sustainable solutions to problems posed by the pandemic.
We note the government’s pronouncement regarding the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out plans and we will continue to liaise with the relevant stakeholders and update our staff and students accordingly.
I look forward to welcoming our students, including first-year students. Please note the registration dates.
Some of our staff and students are returning to campuses to continue with their work and studies. I urge all those returning to campuses to comply with the university protocols aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. The university will continue to operate at the highest possible level of vigilance and care to ensure the health and safety of our staff and students.
I take this opportunity to thank our key stakeholders – including the Council, the donor community, our alumni and the broader NWU family – for the collaboration and support in various areas of our university.
Let us continue to work towards the realisation of our dream to be an internationally recognised university in Africa, distinguished for engaged scholarship, social responsiveness and an ethic of care. Working together, especially during these challenging times, we can ensure that the NWU remains one of the leading universities in our country and on our continent.
I look forward to engaging with you further during this academic year.
Please take care.