Greetings to everyone

As the newly elected chairperson of the NWU 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.

Since our last meeting, much has happened at the university. We have moved back to in-person graduation ceremonies, and the first semester activities including the examinations will be concluded in a few weeks.

We are, of course, delighted that the Covid-19 regulations that affected the vibrant activities on our campuses have been repealed. This will enable the university to return to the hosting of local and international activities that benefit staff, students, and the communities around our campuses.

The issues that our ordinary meeting of Thursday, 23 June 2022, dealt with are outlined below.
Please view my message here.

Due to Dr Bismark Tyobeka's resignation from Council on 18 March 2022, and in accordance with paragraph 6(1) of the NWU Statute, Council was expected to elect a new chairperson. The deputy chairperson of Council has been acting chairperson until the meeting of 23 June 2022.

I am honoured that the NWU Council elected me as the sixth chairperson of the NWU Council. Mr Obakeng Mongale was elected as deputy chairperson.
I am confident that we will continue to work towards the achievement of the NWU's goals and ensure our university's sustainability. Read the full statement about these appointments here.

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
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Research and Innovation
  • Community Engagement
  • Student and staff value proposition
  • NWU national and international recognition; and
  • Preparations and plans for 2023
Council noted the good work and progress made in some areas and expressed its concerns about areas that need special attention and improvement. Council will keep a close eye on these and ensure that management submit progress reports regularly. View the presentation here.

The following policies and rules were approved and will shortly be available here:
  • Open Access Policy
  • Language Policy
  • Records, Archives and Museum Management Policy
  • Data and Information Security Policy
  • Rules for the nomination, election, designation, and appointment of Council members; and
  • Constitution of the Convocation
Council noted that the process for the compilation of the academic calendar for 2023 has commenced and approved the framework for the 2023 academic calendar. The framework will be published on the university's website soon.

It must be noted that the matric results release date has an impact on the finalisation of the academic calendar.

Council approved the 2021 financial overview as well as the audited financial statements for 2021. Council is delighted that the university received an unqualified audit, and thanks management and staff who made this possible, and continue to prioritise the prudent financial management. Council is of the view that the financial results of the past few years provide the basis for sound decision-making to steer the NWU, together with all stakeholders, through this period of challenges and uncertainty, while responding to new opportunities in a prudent and sustainable manner.

The Regulations for Reporting by Public Higher Education Institutions (GG37726, 9 June 2014) determine that the Annual Integrated Report must be recommended by the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee to Council for approval. Council approved the 2021 Annual Integrated Report, as recommended, for submission to the DHET by 30 June 2022. We appreciate the determination and dedication of all involved in the compilation of the report. The stakeholder version of the report will be made available on the university's website as soon as it has been finalised.

Council approved that:
  • Hypertension in Africa Research Team (HART) continue as a Centre of Excellence
  • Centre for Space Research (CSR) continue as a Centre of Excellence
  • Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society (TREES) continue as a research unit; and
  • Occupational Hygiene and Health Research Initiative (OHHRI) remain as a focus area
Council approved the re-appointment of PwC as external auditors for the final year of their five-year contract.

Council further approved that considering that this would be the final year of the current contract, the process to appoint external auditors for another auditing term that begins in August 2023 must commence.

The drop in SAPTU membership below the 30% threshold had resulted in the termination of the recognition agreement that was signed between SAPTU and the NWU. SAPTU has since applied for organisational rights as they have membership of above 10%, which is the minimum threshold that is required for a union to enjoy organisational rights. Council approved that SAPTU be granted organisational rights and an organisational rights agreement be entered into between SAPTU and the NWU.
Council previously granted organisational rights to NEHAWU and Solidarity.

The enrolment plan of the NWU is aligned with the 2030 goals as set out in National Skills Development Plan, as well as the White Paper for Post-School Education and Training. While the NWU is committed to playing its part in reaching these goals, progress has been hampered by factors such as the Covid-19 pandemic, and the deteriorating socio-economic conditions. Furthermore, the fact that NSFAS only funds the first qualification of students, funding for postgraduate to master's level qualifications is limited.
Council approved the revised plan which takes a more realistic and strategic view of the university sector and the operating environment, even though the plan's target is slightly lower than the initial plan submitted in 2019.

The revised plan focuses on the following:
  • a stabilised intake into contact programmes
  • considering steps to reposition the distance education provisioning
  • ensuring that academic staff time that might become available is focused on research and the generation of alternate income
  • safeguarding the finances of the NWU while maintaining a healthy student enrolment; and
  • Creating additional income in the short to medium term to enable the university to enrol more students in the medium to long term
The enrolment plan as approved by Council will be made available to all relevant role players.

Council took note of the progress made by the Public Artwork Selection Committee to implement the decision took by Council in June 2021 – to continue with the search for a unified symbol in the form of an artwork to be erected on all three campuses. Engagements have already taken place with the respective SCC's as well as the SRC. Council noted the draft request for proposals document which will be go public shortly. Council also noted the planned engagement programme with internal and external stakeholders which will commence shortly.

I want to thank Council and the university management for their diligence displayed during the first semester of 2022. Although there are still many challenges facing us, we have made huge strides in many important matters that affect our university and its stakeholders. I wish everyone the best for the remaining part of the first semester. I believe that our achievements will be even bigger in the second semester.

Best wishes


Bert Sorgdrager
Chairperson: NWU Council

For more information please contact Amanda van der Merwe.
The next NWU Council meeting will take place in Vanderbijlpark on 8 September 2022.