Greetings to everyone

As acting chairperson of Council, it is indeed an honour and privilege to update you about Council's work. Once again, 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, much has happened at the university. We have moved back to in-person Registration and Orientation programme. Our students have settled in, and we have commenced with the 2022 academic programme albeit with sporadic protests regarding NSFAS clearances and other administrative issues. 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, 17 March 2022, dealt with are outlined below.
Please click on the image below to view my brief video message.

Please click on the fold-out sections below.

On 16 March 2022, Council had an extremely productive workshop where the following matters were discussed comprehensively:
  • The future of residential universities in the digital era and amid global competitiveness in a post-pandemic era:
    Council noted progress made regarding the way in which the NWU has adapted to demands for higher education institutions to remain relevant nationally and internationally in a post-pandemic era.

Specific focus was placed on the core activities of the university, namely teaching and learning, research and community engagement. Various developments are taking place within the NWU especially the student information systems, and other information communication technology initiatives. Huge strides have been made with the implementation of the digital business strategy. We embrace the opportunities presented by the digital era, but we must make it clear that the NWU will remain a contact university.

  • Transformation - what we understand about transformation, and how we envision the future of the NWU to achieve the transformation objectives:
    Council received reports and updates from its Transformation Oversight Committee and noted recommendations thereof. Council emphasised that transformation is not about the numbers and must be considered in a broad sense. That implies that issues such as religion, diversity, and inclusiveness in general must be addressed to ensure that the NWU is home for everyone. Much progress has been made in addressing transformation, but as an institution we still have a long way to go. Our focus remains the 10 transformation pillars in charting the transformational path for the NWU. The Transformation Charter as approved by Council in November 2021, remains the instrument that guides this process. Employment equity targets are constantly managed by means of attrition.

  • Increasing external income:
    Council noted the implementation of plans aimed at supporting the university's activities towards the realisation of the 2015-2025 objectives. The main aim is to become less dependent on state funding, and in the process being able to support students, research initiatives, as well as community projects. Therefore, the NWU needs to do everything possible to increase alternative sources of income. In this regard, Council will support management in initiatives aimed at targeting alternative sources of income. The workshop noted the impressive upward trends in the performance of some of the investment vehicles that the university has established.
On 9 February 2022, the Exco of Council established a selection panel for the appointment of a suitable candidate for this position. The position was advertised internally and externally and interviews for the position were held on 14 March 2022. After careful consideration, the selection panel recommended a candidate to Council, and after discussions and consideration of a range of issues, Council approved the appointment of Dr Bismark Tyobeka as the principal and vice-chancellor.

Dr Tyobeka was appointed for a term of five years, effective from 1 June 2022. Council has high expectations of the newly appointed principal and vice-chancellor. Read the full statement.

The first term of office of Dr Mala Singh will come to an end on 31 December 2022. Council reappointed Dr Singh for a further term of one year following an electronic voting process that took place during December 2021. This implies that she has been re-appointed for a subsequent term until 31 December 2023.

Council is satisfied with the way in which this portfolio is managed and has taken notice of the huge progress made to ensure that the NWU's human resources related matters are dealt with efficiently and professionally.

Management presented a report to Council, highlighting the activities and achievements since the last Council meeting. The report focused on the following:
  • Unrest at higher education institutions including the NWU
  • First time entering students, and registration
  • Enrolment per faculty
  • Total NWU student enrolment
  • Teaching output
  • Percentage of staff with doctorates
  • Some NWU achievements; and
  • Graduation ceremonies
Council commended Prof du Plessis, management and all staff on the progress made. Council is satisfied that the university is coping with challenges as they arise and the way in which mitigating actions are put in place to ensure the smooth running of the university. View the presentation here.

Council also expressed its appreciation to Prof du Plessis on the way in which she is providing leadership to the university during her period as acting as vice-chancellor.

The following policies and rules were approved and will shortly be available here:
  • Information and Communication Technology Policy on Fair Use
  • Information and Communication Technology Governance Policy
Council approved that the Population and Health research entity continue to operate as a focus area. This entity was established in 2007 as niche area and has been operating as a focus area since 2015.

The entity hosts researchers from three academic groups, namely Population Studies, Sociology, and Development Studies. Sub-programmes are mainly structured along these academic lines.

Council noted progress made by management to ensure that all processes are in place to address the impact of the pandemic. Council is however aware that various external processes such as the possible changes in the state of disaster and further guidelines from the Department of Higher Education and Training, will have an impact on the roll-out of further processes involving staff and students. Council reaffirms the university's non-mandatory stance on vaccinations as well as the encouragement and promotion of vaccinations among staff and students.

Council noted that the budget that was approved by Council in November 2021 did not require any adjustments.

The focus remains on ensuring financial stability in the medium to long-term.

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 during the 2022 academic year. I am optimistic that it will be another successful year for the NWU.

Please take care.


Bert Sorgdrager
Acting Chairperson: NWU Council

For more information please contact Amanda van der Merwe.
The next NWU Council meeting will take place in Mahikeng on 23 June 2022.