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31 January 2023
Taking the NWU forward

Welcome to the 2023 academic year.

I trust that you are reinvigorated and ready to face this year's challenges and take advantage of the opportunities ahead. The engagements and activities in which my office has been involved since the beginning of the year indicate that it is going to be a demanding but exciting and rewarding year. I am happy to see that many prospective students who have applied to study at the NWU are beginning to accept our offers and busy with their registration. We are aware of the financial and other related problems that some of the prospective students are experiencing, and we will continue to work with relevant stakeholders to address these problems. We remain committed to academic excellence and a vibrant student life across our campuses. Therefore, we will ensure that we support all qualifying students, and facilitate their access and success at the NWU.

I am also happy with the work that the NWU senior management team has begun to set out for the future. Senior management and some relevant officials participated in a two-day strategic planning session – bosberaad/lekgotla – during November/December 2022. The session discussed and resolved a range of pertinent issues that affect the NWU's strategy and operations. Management will embark on a consultative process with relevant stakeholders including NWU governance structures and staff regarding these resolutions and proposals. The issues that the consultative process will focus on include among others:

  1. The NWU's current operational model: The NWU Business School has been tasked with the responsibility to evaluate the current operational model. This process will involve the review and assessment of the achievements and challenges of the current operations model focusing on efficiencies and effectiveness. To this end, the university community will form part of the consultation process. I urge all stakeholders who may be invited to participate in this process to do so, to ensure that we have an inclusive process that will result in an outcome that is representative of the collective views and experiences. There may be aspects that are currently working well and contribute significantly towards improved productivity; however, equally, there may be aspects that are not optimal, and are hampering productivity and effective unification. Your lived experience is important to us as it will help in understanding how we can improve efficiencies and be more effective.

  2. Traditional vs comprehensive university: Management resolved that the NWU is and should remain a traditional university. Our relevant portfolios such as Teaching and Learning must ensure that the necessary interventions are in place to align our offerings with this commitment.

  3. Distance Learning: Management resolved that this remains a crucial offering for the NWU and that the Teaching and Learning portfolio together with other relevant structures within the NWU must consolidate the discussions that took place with faculties and report at appropriate structures such as University Management Committee and Senate.

  4. Reimagining student-centricity at the NWU: The Bosberaad/Lekgotla resolved to embark on a process to improve student value proposition. The Student Information System (SIS) project will form the basis of the interventions in this area.

  5. NWU Business School: The NWU Business School is one of our flagship portfolios. Therefore, it needs to be appropriately resourced and implement its strategy and plan without unnecessary and rigid processes. This is important to ensure the NWU Business School's competitiveness and sustainability. Management will pursue all the necessary interventions to unlock the business school's capability and potential; and

  6. NWU Enterprise (Pty) Limited: The diversification of income streams for the NWU is a necessity. To this end, management has resolved to pursue the establishment of the NWU Enterprises (Pty) Limited to enhance our capability to harness third-stream income.

In addition to addressing current strategic issues, the Bosberaad considered to explore the following as per my inaugural address:

  1. The establishment of a veterinary school;
  2. Collaboration with Colleges of Agriculture in the North West province;
  3. The establishment of a centre for sustainable mining;
  4. A programme to increase the capacity of municipal and provincial government;
  5. The establishment of a medical school;
  6. Aggressive expansion of the NWU internationally through strategic collaboration, partnerships and the hosting of international students;
  7. Focus on funding for postgraduate students and the missing middle;
  8. Strengthen our fundraising capacity; and
  9. Implement a Staff Cost Optimisation programme.

These are ambitious goals, some of which are already on-going through various initiatives in relevant faculties and support departments. There will be a process of prioritisation to ensure proper execution and implementation for all of these.

What is needed at this stage is an "all hands-on deck" approach to ensure that we work towards the realisation of the dream of our university. Let us work together to ensure that we remain one of the leading higher education institutions on the African continent.

I look forward to interacting with you collectively and individually to ensure a shared vision in the implementation of our strategy and plans.

Best wishes for the year.

Thank you!
Baie dankie!

Prof Bismark Tyobeka
Principal and Vice-Chancellor