Greetings colleagues

I am pleased to update you about the issues that were discussed and approved at the NWU Council meeting of September 2021. Once again, we had a successful Council meeting where we used a blended approach to our meeting to comply with all Covid-19 protocols and directives. Some of our Council members joined the meeting in person at the Vanderbijlpark Campus, while others joined the meeting virtually.

Since our last meeting, the NWU community has lost staff members, family members and friends due to Covid-19. We trust that the Lord will continue to guide and give all the affected individuals and families strength during these difficult times. I cannot overemphasise the importance of getting vaccinated to protect ourselves from hospitalisations due to Covid-19. Let us use the opportunity to get vaccinated at our three campuses which will be open this coming weekend as communicated. I would like to thank Prof Awie Kotze and his entire team for the great work that they are doing at the vaccination sites.

The issues that our ordinary meeting of Thursday, 9 September 2021, dealt with are outlined below.
Please click on the image below to view my message.

Please click on the fold-out sections below.

Management presented the report to Council and highlighted the following aspects:
  • Teaching and learning including graduates' output
  • Research performance
  • Community engagement including vaccination at the university
  • Student value proposition including the vaccination of our students
  • Staff value proposition
  • Digital business strategy
  • Feedback from the Universum Career Test 2021
  • NWU rankings; and
  • Plans for 2022
Council commended management regarding the progress made to sustain the university's core business amid the current challenges, especially regarding the university's performance nationally and internationally. It is a concern that enrolment targets for 2021 were not achieved due to a range of issues. Although management has reported that corrective measures have been put in place, Council will be closely monitoring the handling of this process for the 2022 students' intake. Council is satisfied that management will continue to monitor and address all challenges efficiently and effectively. Click here to view the presentation.

The following policies and rules were approved and will shortly be available here:
  • Animal Care and Use Policy
  • Intellectual Property Policy
  • Quality Policy
  • Institutional Rules on Student Governance
  • SRC Constitution
Council approved the common strategic assumptions which are revised annually to inform our annual performance planning for the next year. An external situation analysis offers a greater understanding of the structure and competitive nature of the higher education landscape. This scrutiny of the macro-environment equips the university management committee and Council with a broad overview of issues that are likely to affect the implementation of the NWU strategy and its budget priorities.
These external evaluation processes focus on social and demographic trends, future expectations of technological advancement, economic and environmental factors, as well as political developments. Covid-19 taught us many lessons and created lots of new opportunities, including the acceleration of digitisation. Therefore, we must plan, invest, and execute digital initiatives as informed by the Council-approved Digital Business Strategy (DBS). The following subthemes of common strategic assumptions inform our planning:
  • Future learner needs
  • Education landscape global trends
  • Labour market
  • Teaching and learning
  • Finance
  • External stakeholders
  • Technology
  • Impact of Covid-19
  • National imperatives
  • People strategic assumptions; and
  • Transformation
Council approved the proposal to form a partnership with a service provider for the development and implementation of a new NWU Student Information System (SIS) that will replace the current Varsite Vending Student System (VSS). It is envisaged that the new SIS will be client-centric and support both students and academics. Management will communicate more details about the vendor and the system in due course.
The purpose of the NWU doctoral review report is to serve as a resource to improve doctoral provisioning at institutional level, and to contribute to the national report on the state of doctoral provision in South Africa. The report includes commendations, recommendations and further areas of improvement identified by the review panel. The NWU is expected to put measures in place to address the areas that require improvement, and to address the recommendations set out in the review report.
Thus, the institution is required to submit an improvement plan on or before 30 October 2021. The process for the revision of the improvement plan will include the compilation of a monitoring and reporting schedule for consideration by the Higher Education Qualifications Committee. Council has taken note of the report and will monitor the implementation of the improvement plan to ensure that the issues identified are addressed. Click here to view the report as well as the recommendations.

Council remains fully committed towards the implementation of the university's transformation policies and the achievement of the set targets. As the custodian of the university's policies, Council must lead in demonstrating this commitment. To this end, we had a very progressive and fruitful discussion regarding the composition of Council. At the centre of our discussion was whether Council is representative of all stakeholders of the university. We have resolved to implement measures that will ensure that all stakeholders including people living with disabilities, African females and other designated groups are fully represented in the NWU Council.

The position of deputy vice-chancellor for Mahikeng Campus operations and assigned functions has been advertised. Council Exco has established a selection panel to finalise the recruitment process.

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 efforts made by management to vaccinate staff and students across our campuses, as well as the stance of management on vaccination. Council noted that management will participate in the process of establishing a sectoral approach in this regard, as well as possible implications for staff and students not willing to be vaccinated.

Although a proper plan regarding the return of staff and students to campus and specifically classes has been put in place, progress in this regard will be presented to Council to ensure the continuation of service delivery and the provision of contact teaching and learning.

Council noted that various efforts have been put in place to ensure that our vibrant student life and student experience continue within the current limitations.

Council expressed appreciation for efforts taken to address the effects of the pandemic, and urges all stakeholders including students to cooperate with management to curb the spread of the virus. Council is encouraged by the number of people who are getting vaccinated at the NWU vaccination sites. Expert scientific advice tells us that vaccinations reduce the severity of Covid-19 and the number of hospitalisations. Therefore, we urge that all staff and students get vaccinated so that we can get back to our campuses and resume with face-to-face activities.

Council will continue to closely monitor progress regarding the situation.

We are 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 approach the finalisation of the 2021 academic year. I am optimistic that it will continue to 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 18 November.