Greetings to everyone

I am once again pleased to update you about Council's work. For the second time now, we had a successful Council meeting where we used a blended approach to our meeting in order to comply with all Covid-19 protocols and directives. Some of our Council members joined the meeting in person at the Potchefstroom Campus, while others joined the meeting virtually.

Since our last meeting, many members of our university community have lost close relatives, friends and colleagues due to Covid-19. We trust that the Lord will continue to guide and give them strength during these difficult times. The pandemic is still around us. Please let us heed the calls to protect ourselves and those around us.

The issues that our ordinary meeting of Thursday, 18 March 2021, dealt with are outlined below. Please view my message here.

Please click on the fold-out sections below to read the message.

On 17 March 2021, Council had an extremely productive workshop where the following matters were discussed comprehensively:
  • Ethics assessment: The Ethics Institute, contracted to do the ethics assessment at the NWU in 2020, delivered a presentation on the outcome of the assessment. Council took note and will monitor the implementation of recommendations thereof. Management will soon communicate the outcome of the ethics assessment to all staff.
  • The NWU's response to Covid-19: Management presented to Council the way in which the mitigation strategies related to the Covid situation has shaped the business of the university in terms of, (a) sustaining Teaching-Learning, (b) Research and Innovation, (c) Community Engagement, (d) Finances and Facilities, (e) Information Communication Technology as an enabler, (f) People and Culture, and (g) Student life. Council appreciates management's agility in addressing the challenges posed by the pandemic, the new interventions, in various areas of the university, that are aimed at taking advantage of the new opportunities in the higher education sector. You can access the presentation here.

  • External review of Council: The chairpersons of Council committees delivered presentations relevant to their respective committees focusing among others, how effect could be given to the recommendations made in the internal self-evaluation report, recommendations from the external review panel, and other matters considered as important by the members of the committee(s) towards the enhancement of the activities of their particular committee(s), including a plan of action.
The following policies and rules were approved and will shortly be available here:
  • Community Engagement Policy
  • Policy on the Awarding of Collaborative Degrees
  • Business Continuity Policy
  • Alumni Relations Policy
Council approved the establishment of the CHEPD. This centre would offer a range of formal programmes to (but not exclusively to) NWU members of staff.

The CHEPD would be hosted in the Faculty of Education.

The 2021 framework for the academic calendar as was previously approved by Council allocated the period 29 March 2021 to 1 April 2021 for an autumn recess period. Both Senate and Council noted during the process of consideration of the framework for the 2021 academic calendar that permutations might be needed in light of the uncertainties at the time around the finalisation of the NSC results. The release of the NSC results on 23 February 2021 would have an impact on the available teaching time for first-year students. Only a nine-week cycle is available during the first semester.

In light of the above, Council approved that the autumn recess be used for teaching-learning of first-year students.

The new academic calendar will be published on the university's website and first-year students will be informed accordingly.

Council approved that the Multilingual Speech Technologies (MuST) research niche area, which formed part of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences on the Vanderbijlpark Campus in the previous NWU structure, be moved to the Faculty of Engineering on the Potchefstroom Campus.

As indicated in the 2021-2023 budget report and previously approved by Council, the NWU management adopted an approach of being prudent and cautious, yet flexible to manage the possible financial impact of Covid-19. A mitigation plan was approved to ensure future financial sustainability. It was agreed that management will be flexible during the implementation of this mitigation plan which includes updating the Financial Impact Model (FIM) and a three-year rolling budget as and when more information becomes available.

During December 2020, universities received the latest Ministerial statement on university funding and their allocation letters indicating the funding allocations from government for the 2021 financial year.

Council noted the revision of the risk factors in the FIM – linked to subsidy funding and the impact thereof in the medium term. Council approved the revised 2021-2023 three-year rolling budget based on the updated FIM.

Council approved the revised 2021 Registration and Orientation (R&O) Programme which will be mainly delivered in an online mode.

The revised R&O is part of ensuring the creation of a clearly differentiated student value proposition and experience across the university.

The addition of the Organisational Citizenship Behaviour Project (OCBP) to the initial NWU Culture Change Project plan sought to build hope and optimism among staff. This project commenced in October 2020, and Council noted the progress made. We look forward to receiving feedback about the next phase of the project, which will now commence during 2021. The next phase of the project is aimed at embedding NWU values among staff and students, focusing particularly on the ethic of care.

It is hoped that this programme will assist the university towards developing an understanding among students and staff about behaviours aimed at making NWU a better place for all stakeholders, and to further exemplify an ethic of care with respect to community engagement.

Council noted a report from the Task Team that has been assigned to deal with this matter. We remain optimistic about the opportunities for collaboration and support from key stakeholders at national and provincial levels.

This is a matter that we will continue to pursue because we strongly believe that the NWU Medical School would address the needs of prospective students and the public in terms of enrolment opportunities and public health in our country.

Council noted the report regarding progress made by the university at various levels of operation to counter the impact of Covid-19. The report focused on the completion of the 2020 academic year and the launching of the 2021 academic year for returning students and preparation of the registration and orientation programme for first-year students. Council expressed appreciation for these efforts, specifically regarding putting in place elaborate structures to contain the effects of the pandemic.

The NWU can be proud of the way it had continued with the core business in the midst of this crisis, and Council will continue to closely monitor progress regarding the situation.

We are very satisfied with the way in which the university is conducting its business, especially during these challenging times.

Once again, I want to congratulate the university management and Council for ensuring that the NWU remains focused on its objectives. I wish all members of the university community strength and resilience as we tackle the 2021 academic year. I am optimistic that it will be another successful year for the NWU.

Please take care.


Dr MB Tyobeka
Chairperson: NWU Council

For more information please contact Amanda van der Merwe.
The next NWU Council meeting will take place on 17 June.