Greetings to everyone

It is indeed an honour and privilege to update you about Council's third meeting of the 2023 academic year. We had a very successful meeting on 14 September 2023 on the Potchefstroom Campus.

Although we are already seeing the end of 2023 on the horizon, there are still a lot that must be achieved until we can say farewell to 2023.

Several milestones were achieved since our previous meeting.

Congratulations to the NWU Eagles netball and football teams for making it into the semi-finals of the Varsity Sports (Varsity Netball and Varsity Football).

On the evening of 13 September, we hosted a function in appreciation of these outgoing NWU Council members:

  • Mr Tiego Kgomo
  • Ms Ursula Barravalle
  • Mr Yikumba Andreas; and
  • Ms Ella Mogoshoa.

We thank these members for their selfless service to the NWU. We are where we are today because of their expertise and insightful contribution.

During the event we also acknowledged the outstanding performance of Mr Tete Dijana, a two-time Comrades marathon winner, and Dr Adéle Broodryk who took second position in the 2023 Comrades marathon.

Below are the highlights of the issues that our meeting addressed.

View my video message below.

Management, under the leadership of the principal and vice-chancellor, presented a report to Council primarily dealing with the feedback on the mid-term evaluation of the Annual Performance Plan, and progress made towards the achievement of the 2023 targets as set out in the six strategic goals.

Council noted the good work and progress made and congratulated the vice-chancellor and management.

Click here to view the presentation.

Council approved the new strategy of the NWU – Taking the NWU forward, 2024 and beyond. The strategy will be implemented from 1 January 2024. Council noted the work done by the strategy team in the vice-chancellor's office as well as the extended senior management in crafting this new five-year roadmap for the university.

We applaud the extensive engagement with all relevant university stakeholders as this will ensure a shared vision and collective ownership and accountability. The new strategy is comprehensive and forward-looking, and Council will monitor the implementation thereof. The approved strategy is an enhancement of the current strategy and will improve on the existing direction the NWU is moving in. Management will now commence with the compilation of a new Annual Performance Plan and Strategic Risk Register.

The new strategy will shortly be available here.

Council noted that NSFAS proceeded to pay students directly as from 1 July 2023 and, as expected and cautioned by the university, the process has not proceeded smoothly. Although the university's finance team assisted the service provider as far as possible, the onboarding system proved problematic. The NWU had set up a dedicated Task Team to monitor the onboarding and the payment of students. However, many students had not been paid, which had resulted in peaceful protests from students across the sector. NSFAS has not yet responded on the outstanding issue of defunded students.

A key concern remains NSFAS' preparedness and financial readiness to manage the first allowances post registration in 2024, because their processes are not aligned with the start of the academic year. The organisation's capacity to ensure timely information dissemination and funding disbursement remain uncertain. Council will continue to monitor the situation and get reports from management about any progress regarding this issue.

Council approved that an Occupational Hygiene subject group be established by branching-off from the Physiology subject group. The School of Physiology, Nutrition, and Consumer Sciences has already functioned within the proposed four groupings for almost eight years, and within the Physiology subject group, Occupational Hygiene has already grown and evolved into a distinct entity. By adding Occupational Hygiene to the existing name will not be practical due to its length, therefore Council approved the new name including all four subject groups.

The school will now be known as the School of Applied Health Sciences.

One of the current strategic drives of the NWU is the establishment of academic and research programmes in mining science and engineering. As an immediate consequence, the Faculty of Engineering is planning for a significant growth in short learning programmes and related activities.

The current centre will be responsible for the implementation of the above-mentioned drive and the current research topics already demonstrates the significant focus on sustainable mining.

Council approved that the name of the centre be changed to the NWU Centre for Sustainable Mining.

Council noted the NWU Carbon Footprint report for the 2022 financial year. This report summarises the outcomes of the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions inventory for the NWU, covering the latest financial year 1 January - 31 December 2022.

The NWU's largest campus located at Potchefstroom contributes the greatest portion of the institution's carbon footprint. Most of the overall emissions arise from purchased electricity. With 49% of the NWU's emissions arising from purchased electricity, this presents a good opportunity for emission reductions. This could be done through improved energy efficiency measures on campuses where the university is able to lower consumption for lighting, cooling, and heating through more efficient installations and behaviour change.

The full report will be shared with staff and students soon.

Council noted that on 29 August 2023, the Medical School Task Team met with the national and provincial Departments of Health. The Deputy Director General (DDG) of the National Department of Health was impressed with the progress made by the NWU as well as how the university went about in benchmarking against other established medical schools. The DDG was also impressed about the involvement of external role players.

Progress will be reported to the Department's executive committee and all indications are that the NWU will in October 2023 be allowed to present to this executive committee which will include the Minister of Health. All projections are that we will have our first intake in 2027.

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.

Once again, I thank all members of the university community for their continuous and unwavering support in ensuring that the NWU continues to leave its mark nationally and internationally.

Best wishes

Bert Sorgdrager
Chairperson: NWU Council

For more information please contact Amanda van der Merwe.
The next NWU Council meeting will be on 16 November 2023
on the Vanderbijlpark Campus.