Greetings to everyone

It is indeed an honour and privilege to update you about Council's second meeting of the 2023 academic year. We had a very successful meeting which stretched over a day and a half on the Mahikeng Campus. As usual some members who could not attend in person joined the meeting virtually.

We are already in the middle of 2023, and although we faced many challenges, Council is appreciative of the way in which management and every staff member and student of the NWU are playing their part to ensure that the university stays on track in its continuous pursuit for excellence.

Our NWU Eagles and Young Guns (the rugby junior under-20 team) made us proud in the 2023 Varsity Cup.

Council is also proud to be associated with Tete Dijana and Dr Adéle Broodryk who respectively came first and second in the 2023 Comrades marathon.

View my video message below.

The issues that our two-day meeting dealt with are outlined below.

On the afternoon of 21 June 2023, Council had an extremely productive workshop where the following matters were discussed comprehensively:
  • The strategy review – taking the NWU forward: 2024 and beyond
    Management presented progress made regarding the new strategy for the university with the purpose to solicit input. One thing that we can be certain about, is change.
In fact, progress and improvement are often not possible without change and for us to grow and prosper as a university means that we should adapt to a fast-changing world.

Council was very satisfied with what was presented and noted the broad consultation process which will ensure that all NWU stakeholders are involved in the process. Management will present the final strategy to Council for approval during the November 2023 meeting.
  • NWU future mining initiative
    Resulting from the principal and vice-chancellor's undertaking during his inaugural address on 26 August 2022, a process commenced regarding the feasibility of establishing a School of Mines and Mining Engineering.

    Under the leadership of Prof Liezl van Dyk, executive dean of the Faculty of Engineering, a team of academics has done some intensive work in this regard. Council noted progress made in the planning towards establishing a postgraduate school of sustainable engineering with a programme in mining engineering, and the possibility of strategically positioning new research chairs in existing research entities.
Management, under the leadership of the principal and vice-chancellor, presented a report to Council highlighting the activities and achievements since the last Council meeting.

The report included the following:
  • Enrolment figures and success rates
  • Staff composition
  • Research output
  • Institutional trends
  • National trends
  • Highlights of the year so far
  • Planning for 2024; and
  • 2024 applications
Council noted the good work and progress made and congratulated the vice-chancellor and management. Click here to view the presentation.

Council approved that the second term of Prof Linda du Plessis as vice-principal be extended until August 2027 to coincide with the end of her term as deputy vice-chancellor assigned functions and Vanderbijlpark Campus operations.
The following policies were approved, and will shortly be available here:
  • Policy on Honorary Naming, Naming and Renaming of NWU Entities
  • Rules for Awarding of the Lifetime Research Achievement Award
  • Rules for the Appointment of Office Bearers
  • NWU Policy on the Prevention of Bribery, Corruption and Fraud, and on Whistleblowing
  • NWU Conditions of Employment
  • NWU Institutional Rules on Student Governance
The following policies and rules were rescinded:
  • NWU Policy and Rules on Honorary Naming (1P/
  • Rules for Awarding of the S2A3 Medal (9P/9.4.8)
  • Rules for awarding of the Vice-Chancellor's Medals for master's students (9P/9.4.8)
  • Institutional Research Excellence Award Rules (9P/
  • Rules for the Innovation Award for Researchers and Staff Members at the NWU (10P/10.6)
The NWU Internationalisation Strategy has been in development since 2022 and has undergone extensive consultation through various university structures.

Its intent is to set the high-level tone and parameters within which the NWU should promote and infuse internationalisation activities at every level of its core business.
Council approved the strategy, and a process would now unfold to develop an operational tool, namely the "Guidelines for implementation and monitoring of the NWU Internationalisation Strategy", which will be an internal document focusing on processes, targets, outcomes as well as monitoring and evaluation of this strategy.

The NWU Internationalisation Strategy document will shortly be available on the university's website.

Council noted that the process for the compilation of the academic calendar for 2024 has commenced and approved the framework for the 2024 academic calendar.

The framework will be published on the university's website soon.

Council approved the following niche areas as recommended by Senate:
  • Medicine Use in SA (MUSA)
  • Multilingual Speech Technologies (MuST)
  • Visual Narratives & Creative Outputs through Interdisciplinary & Practice- led Research (VINCO)
  • Lifestyle Diseases
Council also approved that the Self-Directed Learning (SDL) unit continue as a research unit as recommended by Senate.

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 2022 Annual Integrated Report, as recommended, for submission to the DHET by 30 June 2023. 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 the 2022 financial overview as well as the audited financial statements for 2022. Council further approved specific projects as well as revised budgets for infrastructure projects which have already been approved.

Council expressed its appreciation for the fact that the university – keeping its track record – again received an unqualified audit. Council also thanks management and staff who made this possible and continue to prioritise the prudent financial management of the university.

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.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was appointed as external auditing firm in August 2018 for a five-year period, until 31 August 2023. In accordance with the relevant prescripts, a tender process was followed to invite prospective external audit firms to submit bids for the provisioning of external audit services to the NWU.

A task team of the Audit Risk and Compliance Committee (ARCC) considered the submitted bids and recommended a shortlist to the ARCC.

The invited companies were requested to make presentations to the ARCC at a special meeting. Upon consideration of the presentations, the unanimous recommendation of the ARCC was to appoint PwC for a subsequent period of five years as the external audit firm of the NWU. Council approved the appointment.

The NWU Digital Business Strategy (DBS) outlines how the NWU will transform its culture and coordinate its efforts to maximise opportunities afforded by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies including Cloud, Internet, and Artificial Intelligence.

This is to achieve its institutional mandate and to position itself for the future educational landscape.
It is important to note that the DBS is not a technology strategy, but an institutional strategy in tandem with the university's overarching strategy and in support of the achievement of the NWU's institutional goals. Council approved the strategy.

Council noted progress made on various levels towards the establishment of the NWU Medical School.

The project is well underway, and the signed joint position paper had been received from the Office of the Premier of the North West Province.

It will now be forwarded to the Minister of Health as well as the NWU Chancellor.

The Technical Task Team, led by senior management of the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District municipality, went on a two-day tour of the district, meeting with representatives from the Ventersdorp Community Health Centre, Potchefstroom Hospital, Klerksdorp Tshepong Hospital, and the Wolmaransstad Nic Bodensteyn Hospital. We remain optimistic that this ambitious initiative will come to fruition.

Once again, I thank all members of the university community for their continuous and unwavering support in ensuring that the NWU continues to be a force to be reckoned with.

I wish you the best for the remainder of the year.

Best wishes

Bert Sorgdrager
Chairperson: NWU Council

For more information please contact Amanda van der Merwe.
The next NWU Council meeting will be on 14 September 2023
on the Vanderbijlpark Campus.