Vice-chancellor

From the VC

NWU Press releases

2024

The implementation of the NWU Strategy

17 April 2024

The implementation of the NWU Strategy dubbed – “Taking the NWU Forward 2024 and beyond” has been steadily and firmly rolled out since the latter part of the previous year, following Council approval in September 2023. Earlier this year, the University community and stakeholders would have heard about positive developments in major projects such as a) Staff Cost Optimisation b) Medical school establishment, c) the School of Mining & Mining Engineering, and d) The NWU Enterprises to name but a few. This of course is a culmination of the resolutions adopted at the bosberaad of December 2022 where numerous many plans were formulated. However, the effectiveness of these plans hinges on our capacity to execute them proficiently. Consequently, an examination into the efficiency and effectiveness of our unitary operational model and how we deploy our key processes was initiated, led by a team from the Business School.

The findings from the study, coupled with the outcomes of the staff cost optimization project, led the university management to draw the following conclusions;

  • the current NWU structure needs to be aligned with the new strategy - Taking the NWU Forward 2024 and beyond
  • there needs to be further realignment of our structures at deployment level to ensure efficiency
  • key process flows and the impact of digital transformation on the structure should be the next level of scrutiny 

The Vice-Chancellor has for this reason engaged a team of external experts to lead a consultancy into the structure realignment, beginning with the top structure. This process began in January 2024, with approximately 35 interviews conducted to date. The result of the interviews, literature review and the experts’ own experience with Institutions of Higher Learning in South Africa, led to a number of proposed structure scenarios and options. This is a key milestone, and it is for this reason that the Vice-Chancellor is providing this update.

Henceforth the process will now unfold as follows:

  • There will be a Special Council workshop to be held in early May 2024 at which the various options of the top structure will be presented and discussed.
  • This will be followed by further engagement with key structures outside Council i.e. Senate, Institutional Forum, Convocation, Board of donors, SMC and others.
  • After consultations are concluded, it is envisaged that the consolidated input will be formally presented to Council for approval in a special Council meeting in early July 2024.
  • Subsequently, a change management process will be initiated to facilitate a seamless transition for all impacted staff members, enabling them to acclimate to their revised or new roles. This process will encompass the provision of clearer functional job profiles, as well as defined workflows and reporting lines. It is important to note, however, that the official implementation of the new structure is scheduled for January 2025.

The Vice-Chancellor is hopeful that you, as key stakeholders, will continue to engage constructively as you have done previously, offering valuable insights into the process. This collaboration is essential to ensure a successful journey in implementing the NWU strategy.

Announcement: Prof Robert Balfour, Deputy vice-chancellor

8 April 2024

It is with mixed emotions that I announce that Prof Robert Balfour, our deputy vice-chancellor for teaching and learning will leave the employ of the North-West University (NWU) on 30 September 2024. On Thursday, 4 April 2024, the Council of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) announced his appointment as their new rector and vice-chancellor with effect from 1 January 2025.

On behalf of the NWU community, I congratulate him on this appointment. As with the NWU, the UWC can be proud of making him part of their executive team. Our loss is their gain.

Prof Robert was employed at the NWU since 2011, first as dean of the then Faculty of Education, and then as our deputy vice-chancellor for teaching and learning from 1 September 2017.

The leadership provided by Prof Robert brought about major changes and ensured that we continued to provide cutting-edge education, even during the Covid pandemic. His wealth of experience in academic and administrative leadership put him at the forefront of South Africa’s higher education landscape; thus, his appointment is a recognition of his abilities in this regard.

Prof Robert is renowned for his compassion and his unrelenting strive to promote diversity and inclusivity. His efforts have not only enriched the lives of so many staff and students at the NWU, but he has also significantly contributed to our esteemed reputation. He will leave a legacy that will continue to inspire and guide us.

It makes me proud to see any of our staff members appointed to higher positions where they can share their expertise with the broader community and contribute to our country’s development and growth. Therefore, I wish Prof Robert only the best in this new endeavor.

The NWU Council will shortly commence with the process of appointing a new deputy vice-chancellor in this position.

Regards
Prof Mzubanzi Bismark Tyobeka

Celebrating our 20-year anniversary and reflecting on our human rights

21 March 2024

Our Constitution reminds us of our collective commitment that “we, the people of South Africa, recognise the injustices of our past. Honour those who have worked to build and develop our country; and believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity …”

We must always remember the events that shaped us as a nation. We cannot afford to forget our painful human rights history. We cannot afford to erase the memories of images and voices that flashed and echoed across the world during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings. We cannot afford to forget the impact of the South African (Anglo-Boer) War and colonisation on the psyche of the broader South African nation. We cannot forget atrocities and loss of lives during the two world wars. We must never forget the Sharpeville massacre. We watch the wars and catastrophes unfolding across various parts of the world in horror and deep sorrow.   This is because we know and appreciate the call for universal human rights for all.

Thursday, 21 March, is Human Rights Day in South Africa.  This day holds a special place in our history, as it marks the commemoration of the Sharpeville massacre that occurred 63 years ago. It serves as a reminder of the struggles faced by our fellow South Africans in the fight for human rights and equality.

Human Rights Day is not just a day off work or classes. It is a day to honour those who fought for our rights and to promote the values of equality, diversity and inclusivity among all South Africans and all people of the world. As we commemorate this day, let us acknowledge the progress made to date in the advancement of human rights and recommit ourselves to contribute positively towards the promotion of a just and caring society.

We invite all our stakeholders to join us in our celebration of our 20-year anniversary. We must use this opportunity to reflect on the efforts that have been made to uphold and respect the rights of all individuals within the North-West University (NWU) community. Our values of caring, embracing inclusivity, diversity, transparency, excellence in all endeavours, and academic freedom resonate deeply with the essence of Human Rights Day, and the Constitution of our country.

We have, over the years, collectively made strides towards creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all, but we must also acknowledge that there is still work to be done. We have adopted a zero-tolerance approach to the abuse or violation of human rights of all our stakeholders – NWU staff and students, including the marginalised individuals and groups. It is essential that we continue to strive for a more equitable and just society, both within our university and in the broader community.

As we commemorate this day, let us reaffirm our commitment to upholding the rights and dignity of every individual. Let us embrace the values of respect, empathy and understanding towards one another. Let us all take hands and contribute to building a society where everyone is treated with fairness and equality, regardless of their background or identity. Let us get inspiration from the words of one of our country’s champions for human rights, Oom Beyers Naudé, who stated that “you can never be fully human unless you have discovered the humanity in other human beings”.    

Therefore, despite our differences, let us respect the rights of our fellow students, colleagues, and team members. We owe it to ourselves to be better human beings because our country has experienced and knows children whose future was cut short or who were denied a better future, women who are being subjected to a life of servitude and domination, and men who have been stripped of their dignity. Let us echo President Mandela’s call “never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another”.

We have the power to influence and promote a human rights culture in our classrooms, residences, offices, homes and everywhere. Let us use it.  Our silence must never be louder than it is now. It is crucial to speak for human rights because, as Martin Niemöller lamented, “first they came for the socialist, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist, then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Please have a reflective Human Rights Day, everyone!

Prof Mzubanzi Bismark Tyobeka
Principal and Vice-chancellor

General communique regarding the suspension of NWU student, disrupting the 2024 first-year registration and orientation programme during February 2024

11 March 2024

The purpose of this communique is to respond to various media reports as well as stakeholder enquiries.

From the outset, it is important for you to be aware of the obligation of the North-West University (NWU) as a public institution that needs to diligently comply with all measures of confidentiality regarding disciplinary processes and the information that may be divulged with regard thereto. To this end, the university’s disciplinary measures against Mr Shaun Christie (“the student”) are ongoing and confidential in nature, and my office will strictly abide to these confidential measures.

However, our institution is entitled and duty-bound to respond to factual inaccuracies, inconsistent reporting, and in some cases plain rumours spread via various media platforms. We hereby take this opportunity to state the facts regarding the ongoing disciplinary process as follows:

  1. During my tenure as the Chief Disciplinary Officer of students, no student at our institution has, or will be, suspended from university activities based on their religious beliefs.
  2. The student was not suspended for standing up to or pronouncing his Christian beliefs.
  3. The NWU is the programme owner of, amongst others, a registration and orientation programme that involves sessions where inter alia, students are informed about the constitutional protection afforded to minority groups at our institution, including but not limited to, international students, students living with disabilities, and those students associated with the LGBTQIAP+ community. Attendance at the specific session referred to in the disciplinary process is not compulsory, and the invitees were limited to first year students, student leaders, employees from Student Life portfolio, and guest speakers.
  4. The student you have raised concerns about is a final year law student and was not an invitee to the specific session. Nevertheless, the student attended the session without requesting permission to do so or to be allowed to act as speaker. He was still allowed to attend the session to which he gained access on his own accord.
  5. During the information session presented by a legitimately invited guest speaker, the student rudely interrupted the programme; thus, he is facing the following disciplinary charges which were made public in the media and are therefore already in the public domain:
    • Wilful disruption of a university programme.
    • Hate speech and inciting students to stand up against the LGBTQIAP+ community.
    • Disregard for the rights of the guest speaker.
    • Animosity against the LGBTQIAP+ community; and/or
    • Wilful false public statements regarding our university’s intolerance against Christian values.
  6. Our institution recognises, respects, and embraces all religions on our campuses, as well as the rights of any person(s) from minority groups including the LGBTQIAP+ community, along with all other constitutional rights afforded to us by our Constitution.
  7. Any suggestion that the student was suspended based on his religious belief is devoid of any truth. The university further respects our proud religious heritage as long as this respect does not create an image that we are a Christian only public higher education institution. As a unitary institution, we embrace persons from all walks of life, religions, race, gender, language, and the constitutional right to freely associate and express oneself on our campuses as long as this association and/or expression is executed without infringing unreasonably on the rights of others.
  8. We trust that the information above will assist in the dissemination of correct information in the public domain regarding the current disciplinary process relating to the student. The university will unfortunately not engage in discussions regarding specific details of the disciplinary process. At this stage, it is worth to note that the student’s suspension has been relaxed to the extent that he may continue his academic duties pending the outcome. The hearing was scheduled for 29 February, postponed until 12 March and then again to 27 March.  

Yours faithfully

Prof Mzubanzi Bismark Tyobeka
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

2023

NWU Vice-Chancellor's year-end message: Looking back at 2023

7 December 2023

Dear NWU community
As we approach the close of another successful year, I find myself reflecting on the significance of this special season. It's a time dedicated to family, a time to cherish moments with loved ones, and a moment to cast our gaze back on the journey we've traversed throughout the year.
Please view my message below:

 

Best of luck for the year-end assessments

25 October 2023

It is once again that very important period in our academic calendar, the year-end assessment period. During this period, it is important that you give your all to ensure a successful outcome. There may be times when you feel overwhelmed and hopeless. That is understandable, and it is part of the journey. Please take the time to relax and find ways and means to reinvigorate yourself.

Yes, the assessments are important for your success, but your physical and mental well-being are vital. Therefore, I encourage you to use all the available support services at the university should the need arise. I am confident that you have the capacity and capability to succeed and pave your path for the future.

We all know about the problem of power cuts that have become part of our daily lives. We remain committed to providing emergency power during periods of power cuts/loadsheding to safeguard the academic programme and the overall business of the university. I urge all of us to continue to use resources (electricity and water) responsibly to ensure that this assessment period proceeds uninterrupted across all our campuses.

Once again, I appeal to you to seek help when the need arises. You are not alone. You are a valued member of the NWU community.

Good luck and best wishes.
Prof. Mzubanzi Bismark Tyobeka
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Our heritage: our past and our future

24 September 2023

Dear Colleagues and Students

September is Heritage Month in South Africa, our country, and 24 September is the day on which we collectively showcase and celebrate our cultural wealth. As we celebrate Heritage Day this year, let us pause and remember who we are, and our individual and collective contribution towards the recognition of and pride in our rich and diverse culture, languages, and practices that make us a unique nation whose true potential is yet to be fully nurtured and realised.  Heritage Day presents an opportunity for us to take an unguided trip to look at the tapestry of our past, woven together by the threads of history, culture, and tradition.

Our values and beliefs are passed down from generation to generation, and these are treasures that must be cherished, as they define who we are as individuals, communities and a nation. The North-West University (NWU) is a melting pot of diverse cultures and traditions. We are a community that is anchored by the values of diversity and inclusivity, and the unlimited opportunities that these present to our staff and students. We are indeed proud of our journey thus far to create an NWU community that is not only respected within the higher-education sector in South Africa and internationally but is also seen as an example of how people who have been affected and influenced differently by political and cultural occurrences can embrace a shared vision and appreciation for their organisation. This is something that we must appreciate more as we prepare to celebrate our 20-year anniversary in 2024. We must recognise our contribution to shaping the views of the youth who are crucial towards enriching our culture and heritage.  

I have travelled across all continents, and I can assure you that we have a unique heritage that makes our country special. Let us be proud of our heritage, celebrate it, embrace its uniqueness, and share all the qualities that make it so exceptional. At the same time, let us respect the cultures and traditions of those who come from other parts of the world, and make everyone part of the NWU culture and history.  Our shared NWU heritage will allow us to exchange ideas, foster relationships, and build a vibrant, dynamic community characterised by diversity and a shared sense of belonging.

Let us keep on working together to ensure that the NWU heritage is characterised by human dignity, equity and equality, integrity, tolerance, respect, commitment to excellence, scholarly engagement, academic freedom, and social justice.  

Please enjoy Heritage Day and celebrate responsibly.

Enkosi
Baie dankie
Ke a leboga

Prof Mzubanzi Bismark Tyobeka
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Women’s Day: the task is not complete – far from it

8 August 2023

My dear colleagues and students

It is a privilege to be talking to you today about an issue very close to my heart. On Women’s Day we are not only commemorating the thousands of brave women who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956, but we are also celebrating the women pioneers of today, and the possibilities of tomorrow.

Isn’t it remarkable how far we have come? We have made great strides in working towards gender equality in all spheres of society, and we have risen to the challenge set for us by those remarkable women of the past. I hope they are proud, but I know they will want us to do more and better.  

The task is not complete. Far from it.

As we mark this historic day, we are faced with a situation in which gender-based violence is unacceptably high in our country. We have one of the highest sexual assault figures in the world. This must stop. Although more than half of our population is women, and more than two fifths of households are headed by women, statistics show that women are more likely to be unemployed than men and they are less likely to participate in the labour market than men. 

Notwithstanding this challenge, we must continue to empower and create opportunities for young women. In 2022, female students from the NWU received 388 advanced diplomas, 101 doctor’s degrees, 408 master’s degrees, 920 postgraduate bachelor’s degrees, 317 postgraduate diplomas, 5 280 undergraduate degrees and 1 881 undergraduate diplomas. Given the opportunities, these young women can change the landscape and make significant contributions to address this imbalance and serve as torchbearers for the future.

It is our responsibility to create a conducive environment for our students to prosper as successful leaders of society, and it is also our responsibility and accountability to protect and empower those who are vulnerable.

At the North-West University, this is our priority.  To this end, in 2021, the North-West University Council adopted an extensive and inclusive gender-based violence prevention policy that is in line with the university’s ethic of care. The purpose of this policy is to regulate the handling of gender-based violence within the university in order to create an enabling environment to inform and provide support to survivors.

We also adopted a standard operating procedure with a view to providing support to survivors of gender-based violence.

We have launched numerous initiatives to create awareness about gender-based violence. Last year we launched a Gender-Based Violence Awareness Campaign, which involved the distribution of valuable information regarding gender-based violence-related services and resources available to students and staff. This was followed by the university joining hands with the rest of the world to take part in the United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign. 

Our staff and students attended a National Gender-based Awareness Campaign called Universities Against Gender-Based Violence, and under the banner of Practitioners against Gender-based Violence marched to raise awareness about gender, gender-based harm, overall gender relations and queerphobia.

We also launched a GBV AND LGBTQIA+ campaign called Raising Healthy Males, and we are proud of our role in addressing gender-based violence through our support services such as NWU Wellness and entities such as the Law Clinic, to name but a few. In May this year, many of our staff and students participated in a Silent Awareness Campaign against gender-based violence.

We will continue to show our support for this most important issue as we continue to help build a society that is safer for all, especially for women.

I am focusing on this scourge because it has become a pandemic that we must face head on. In conclusion, I would like to express my gratitude to all women in this country – our daughters, sisters, mothers, our friends and our colleagues. Thank you for your dedication, your love, and your unwavering resolve. Your strength and compassion guide us.

 

Malibongwe igama lamakhisikazi
Prof Mzubanzi Bismark Tyobeka
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Prof Bismark Tyobeka – Nelson Mandela Day message

It is in our hands

17 July 2023

There are seminal moments in history, moments that define an age and live on beyond a lifetime. One of these occurred on 11 February 1990 when thousands were in attendance and millions watched from home as Nelson Mandela walked from Victor Verster prison in Cape Town.

A new course for our country was set and the world saw how the human spirit cannot only prevail through the most challenging of circumstances but become a beacon for others to follow suit.

As we celebrate Mandela Day, this is one of the images that spring to mind, and one we will not soon forget, but it is the lessons of his legacy that will stand the test of time.

We again saw how cooperation trumps exclusion, and how a path walked together is more fulfilling than one walked alone. As a nation we reaffirmed that the more voices we listen to, the more perspective we will have and the better equipped we will be to build a society we all can be proud of.

At the North-West University, this is not only what we believe, but it is what we are striving towards every day in every decision we make and every route we take.

The theme of this year’s Mandela Day is It Is In Your Hands, and the future is truly in our hands, but also in our hands together.  It can only be in our hands if it is within our reach. As one of the top 10 universities in Africa according to the latest Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings we are ensuring that our students – through our exceptional teaching-and-learning as well as world-class research are given the best possible opportunities to succeed.

According to the latest Center for World University Rankings (CWUR), the NWU is rated as one of the top 4,4% of global universities, meaning our ever-expanding local and international footprint is bringing the world to our doorstep. We need only to step out and together embrace these opportunities and possibilities.   

Let us continue to set an example for others to follow so that our legacy will be remembered for the positive changes we made as well as for our commitment, dedication, and perseverance in our pursuit of a better, sustainable future. We will of course experience some difficulties towards achieving our goals. This is the reason we need to remain courageous and remember President Mandela’s words that: “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is inspiring others to move beyond it." And: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”   

It is in your hands, and it all starts here.

 

Prof. Bismark Tyobeka

Principal and vice-chancellor

Human rights: our responsibility and accountability

21 March 2023

Today is Human Rights Day in our beloved country. This day acknowledges our painful past and a promise of hope and optimism for a country firmly anchored in multiracialism, multiculturalism, religious pluralism, non-sexism and an absolute respect for human rights. It serves as a reminder that there was a time when some South Africans needed permits to move from villages to the cities, permits to work, own property, buy goods and services and to enter into romantic relationships.

On 21 March 1960, in Sharpeville, some people who were part of a peaceful protest/march against these permits and pass laws lost their lives and others were wounded when police fired at the protesters. The Sharpeville massacre took place 20 years after the United Nations had adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which established universal human rights based on humanity, freedom, justice and peace. It is because of the events of 21 March 1960 and other events that happened over the years across our country that our Constitution contains the Bill of Rights, which guarantees human dignity, equality and freedom.

Therefore, we commemorate Human Rights Day to reflect on our past and to celebrate the rights that we as South Africans enjoy today. As the members of the broader North-West University (NWU) community, we must demonstrate our human rights culture and democratic values daily. We must also know that our human rights are exercised within a framework of responsibility and accountability. This means that, whenever students or staff are unhappy about or dissatisfied with a service or a particular issue, they must also acknowledge and respect the rights of other students and staff. In addition, all of us must strive to be champions of human rights. One of the great sons of our country, Bishop Desmond Tutu, once remarked that If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. Let us make our voices heard whenever we witness an injustice and join hands in promoting human rights.

The NWU’s commitment towards a culture of human rights is embedded in our strategy statement – to transform and position the NWU as a unitary institution of superior academic excellence, with a commitment to social justice. The theme of this year’s Human Rights Month is #LeaveNoOneBehind – walk your rights. This calls for us to adopt inclusive strategies and practices across all areas of our operations. The NWU's key stakeholders, including staff and students, are currently involved in our strategy review project – Taking the NWU Forward. We have made advance payment for FTEN students who are still waiting for NSFAS funding and have made additional funds available to assist academically deserving students to register. We have extended the registration period and arranged for faculties to make special arrangements to cater for students with provisional registration. We are doing all this to ensure that, as far as possible, everyone is included, and no one is left behind.  

On 10 March 2023 we signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the South African Human Rights Commission. This partnership will enable us to strengthen our efforts to promote the culture of human rights in the NWU and in the surrounding communities. The partnership involves exploration and the implementation of a range of issues, including capacity building, research, policy formulation, information sharing and advocacy programmes. We look forward to the immediate implementation of this MoU to enhance the promotion of a culture of human rights in our student and staff environments. This partnership will strengthen our resolve to eliminate incidents of gender-based violence and all forms of discrimination and exclusion that are a violation of fundamental human rights.

As the NWU family and South Africans, we must always remember where we come from and make a commitment to never ever repeat the same violations. Please allow me to remind you of the preamble to our Constitution:

We, the people of South Africa,
Recognise the injustices of our past;
Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land;
Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and
Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.
We therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic so as to -

  • Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights;
  • Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law;
  • Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person; and
  • Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.

May God protect our people.

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso.

God seën Suid-Afrika. God bless South Africa.

Mudzimu fhatutshedza Afurika. Hosi katekisa Afrika

 

Prof Bismark Tyobeka
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

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!
Ndiyabulela!
Kealeboga!

 

Prof Bismark Tyobeka
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

 

2022


Prof Bismark's end-of-year message 2022

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for the hard work and effort to make this a very successful year for the University...", watch the full message.

I wish you the best for the year-end assessments

1 November 2022

During this assessment period, it is important that you give your all to ensure a successful outcome for yourself.  There may be times when you feel overwhelmed. That is understandable. It is part of the journey. Please take the time to relax and find ways and means to reinvigorate yourself. Yes, the assessments are important for your success. However, your health is vital. Therefore, I encourage you to use all the available support services at the university should the need arise. I am confident that you have the capacity and capability to succeed and pave your path for the future. 

On behalf of the University Management Committee, I congratulate you and all academic and support staff for ensuring a successful academic year. This academic year would not have reached this stage without the commitment and determination of everyone involved. We are aware that the adaptation to the teaching and learning after the past two years’ experiences is an ongoing process. Thank you for your patience and resilience.  

Good luck and best wishes.

Dr Mzubanzi Bismark Tyobeka
Principal and Vice-Chancellor 

We recognise and celebrate our heritage

Every year, South Africa enjoys 12 national public holidays, all of which have great significance to our individual as well as our national identity.

24 September is National Heritage Day, a day on which we recognise and celebrate the rich and colourful contributions of our different cultural heritages. The North-West University (NWU) is home to staff and students from different cultures and backgrounds. Therefore, there is a great need for all of us to strive to understand and appreciate these differences. We offer opportunities for staff and students to broaden their horizons in terms of culture, language and other related matters. In addition to our commitment to social justice and an ethic of care, we have adopted diversity and inclusiveness as one of our NWU Values that apply in both the staff and student environments. We are challenged to live by these values and ensure that everyone within the broader NWU family feels acknowledged, welcome and appreciated.

Let us celebrate this Heritage Day and use it as an opportunity to kindle respect for one another’s cultural heritage and differences. We must never underestimate the ignorance and unconscious bias to which we sometimes fall victim. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to accept that we must always learn and educate ourselves about our colleagues and fellow students, especially those from different cultural backgrounds and heritage. Considering where we come from as a university, we have made significant strides towards building a true NWU community with shared values and one vision. I know there will be certain shortfalls and obstacles along our journey, but we must collectively remain focused on our vision and condemn anything and anyone whose objective is to derail this journey.

I am aware of the culture and diversity programmes that colleagues in People and Culture and Student Life are implementing as part of our NWU Values Project. I urge everyone to participate in these very important programmes to fully appreciate our transformation journey and cultural dynamics.
May we celebrate this Heritage Day with a healthy exchange of views, aimed at understanding and appreciating each other’s cultural heritage and background. This is the responsibility of everyone living in a multi-cultural country such as ours. It is what makes us richer in terms of culture and worldview.  
I wish you a fun-filled Heritage Day.

Baie dankie
Ke a leboga

Dr Bismark Tyobeka
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Women’s Day: a day of tribute, reflection, and recommitment 

9 August 2022

August is Women’s Month in our country. It is a recognition of and a tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 to protest against the pass laws and the oppressive system that treated women as lesser beings who needed to be controlled and denied access to certain amenities and activities. It is also a recognition and a celebration of the crucial role that women continue to play in all facets of society.

We, the North-West University (NWU), add our voice in tribute to and celebration of the phenomenal women in our country, especially Team NWU women who play a crucial role in our success and ensure that we remain focused on the realisation of our dream – to be an internationally recognised university in Africa, distinguished for engaged scholarship, social responsiveness, and an ethic of care.

We are proud of the progress we have made thus far to ensure a conducive environment that allows the promotion and strengthening of equity and equality among our staff and students. However, a lot still needs to be done.  Therefore, we recommit ourselves to reviewing all relevant policies, rules and practices to ensure that we fast-track our progress and multiply our gains. 

Regrettably, we continue to read/hear of and witness crimes that are mostly directed at women. According to the crime statistics from the South African Police Services for the first quarter of 2021/2022, murder and sexual offences in our country jumped by 66,2% and 74,1% respectively, year on year. This dire situation is unacceptable and needs to stop. As the NWU, we have committed ourselves to stamping out any acts of gender-based violence among students and staff. 

Although we welcome the surveys and reports that rate our campuses as the safest in South Africa, we know that each day presents physical and emotional safety problems and difficulties for our staff and students, especially women. I urge all men who are staff and friends of the NWU to actively participate in the promotion of safer spaces for women and girls. Let us accept that gender-based violence disproportionately affects women and girls, and refrain from unhelpful justifications and comparisons. 

On this Women’s Day, let us take the opportunity to reflect and dedicate ourselves to the eradication of any behaviours that are meant to discriminate against and hurt persons – our mothers, sisters, and daughters – overtly or covertly purely because they are women.  

I wish all NWU women a safe and wonderful Women’s Month, and a blessed and joyous Women’s Day. I look forward to engagements with staff and students regarding ways and means in which we can further create and sustain friendly and safer spaces within our university.

Enkosi
Baie dankie
Ke a leboga
 

As we celebrate Workers’ Day, there will always be the need for a new kind of worker

1 May 2022

 

Of all the public holidays celebrated in South Africa, the significance of International Workers’ Day, being commemorated today, is perhaps the most disputed.

At the centre of the plethora of views is that of whether the conditions of workers have changed for the better or not. The dispute is often attributed to antidemocratic forces that have questioned and continue to question the gains made by workers. Despite the differing views, which are welcome in a democracy such as ours, the role and contribution of workers the world over remain undisputable.

The labour laws that govern much of the civilised world have clearly moved miles away from the dictatorial agendas that characterised the world in the past – including here in South Africa.

The past two and a half years have necessitated each worker to adapt to a new way of work due to the impact of Covid-19. As painful as these adaptations were, the working class once again demonstrated how, despite adversity, we can achieve more by working together. And nowhere was this clearer than at the North-West University (NWU).

Despite job losses in various sectors in the country, not a single NWU staff member was retrenched during the pandemic. While it is important to celebrate this achievement that demonstrated how the NWU leadership managed to steady its ship during the pandemic, we should not be relaxed and complacent about it. Too much remains to be done!

The NWU has made huge strides by continuously being rated among the very best institutions of higher learning worldwide. We are continuously expanding the range of our programmes and the university is in a stable financial position. Our student enrolment figures have picked up, and we are seriously continuing with the implementation of our digital business strategy as we prepare ourselves for the unknown challenges of the future.

Over the past few weeks we have all felt the celebratory atmosphere brought about by our graduation ceremonies.  Our students’ success is also our success. Therefore, on this International Workers’ Day, the NWU salutes you, our staff members, for your contribution to our growth and success.

The challenges we face will require a new kind of staff member though, one who is resolute, persistent and productive enough to face any and all hurdles the NWU will face. Kent Sanders, a professor at the St Louis Christian College in Florissant, Missouri, says that new challenges hold many benefits: A new challenge may need you to acquire new skills that entail additional training. Furthermore, it raises your value to the institution. “A rising tide raises all the ships in the harbour.” Your level of job satisfaction may also be raised by a new challenge. Kent says there are two kinds of people in the workplace: “Those who are enduring it, and those who are enjoying it.”

That is why I would like to encourage you to welcome opportunities to grow, to learn and to adapt to the rapidly changing demands of the workplace. A positive attitude is half the secret to success!

Be safe wherever you may find yourself celebrating this day.

Best wishes

Prof Linda du Plessis

Acting Principal and Vice-Chancellor

 

NWU commemorates Freedom Day

27 April 2022

 

Today marks the commemoration of Freedom Day, an occasion that requires us to reflect deeply on and appreciate the freedom that we all enjoy.

However, it is undeniable that although we as South Africans worked tirelessly to achieve our freedom, millions of our citizens remain on the fringes of society, plagued by high rates of unemployment, disease, and general hopelessness.

With freedom comes responsibility. In line with the Constitution we must work towards improving the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person. 

The country has suffered tremendous tragedy in the past week due to the heavy rainfall and flooding, especially in KwaZulu-Natal. Each of us can make a difference by being there for others. I salute every positive effort that you have made to touch the lives of your fellow men and women and to make a difference in your community. This is the legacy that we wish for our university and its people: a culture of caring and giving, a culture that will continue long after the time comes for us to leave this great place.

At a micro-level, the North-West University (NWU) has advocated and will continue to advocate an environment where all its people, both students and staff, enjoy their freedom – unhindered.

As an institution, we have worked tirelessly with all stakeholders to ensure that we give practical effect to the enjoyment of our freedom. Various policies have been approved in this regard to ensure that we escape the trap of merely paying lip service to issues that personally and deeply affect various sectors of our university community.

South Africans achieved their freedom through the sacrifices of millions of citizens – some of whom never tasted freedom in their lifetime. It then follows that if we at the NWU, and South Africans in general, take our freedom for granted it would be tantamount to betraying the memories of those who sacrificed their lives for all of us to be free.

As we celebrate Freedom Day, let us remember this quote by former President Nelson Mandela: “A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness.”

I urge all of us as members of the NWU community to commemorate Freedom Day and to take a moment to reflect and recommit ourselves towards a full realisation of human rights and social justice in our country.

Best wishes

Prof Linda du Plessis

Acting Principal and Vice-Chancellor


2021


Message from the vice-chancellor: Heritage Day 2021

24 September 2021

 

24 September is Heritage Day in our country. As we celebrate this day, we are reminded of the rich tapestry of our diversity and shared heritage as South Africans. This is one of the elements that cement our nationhood and inspire us to work towards a brighter future.

Heritage Day presents an opportunity to reflect on, recognise and respect our cultural wealth.  It is the ideal occasion to appreciate and celebrate our history and traditions as we continue to shape our national identity.

Our diverse backgrounds and experiences serve as a resource for us to learn from each other, and to find common ground to create and enhance social cohesion. 

The North-West University (NWU) is home to persons from diverse cultural groups, backgrounds and nationalities. As we continue to work towards our shared organisational culture, we draw from our country’s experiences and achievements, notwithstanding the challenges encountered.

Our university has a rich history that is anchored by diversity, inclusiveness and an ethic of care. We continue to grow and excel in our pursuit of excellence and sustainability, as the latest international rankings and ratings demonstrate.

We are proud of the progress that we have made towards inclusiveness, diversity and social cohesion. However, we recognise that a lot remains to be done, both within the NWU and in our country. To this end, I urge all members of the NWU family to play their part towards achieving a fully unitary institution. Furthermore, let us continue to make our individual and collective contribution towards social justice in our country and the world.

Let us proudly celebrate Heritage Day on 24 September and continue to enrich our heritage and diversity for future generations.

Please take care.

Prof Dan Kgwadi              

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Let us unite behind women: Women's Month 2021

As we commemorate Women's Day, the North-West University (NWU) commends and salutes all the homemakers, trailblazers and ground breakers in our homes, families, university and communities.

The NWU is proud of our phenomenal female academics, support staff and students who have made great strides and contributions in their respective disciplines. Their diversity is as vast and valuable as the sectors in which they serve, and we continue to look at them for inspiration and guidance.

On 9 August 1956, approximately 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings to protest against the unjust pass laws that were being imposed on women in South Africa. These women are shining examples of the impact women can have and the valuable roles they fulfil in changing society for the better.

As we celebrate Women’s Day, let us remember how the pandemic and lockdown have exposed the current spate of gender-based violence perpetrated against women and girls in South Africa. This is why we must all unite like the women of South Africa did 65 years ago and fight against this scourge of injustice against the mothers and sisters of our nation.

The NWU not only condemns any acts of violence committed against women and children, but also has a zero-tolerance approach regarding the violation of any human rights. The university prides itself on creating a safe environment that allows equal opportunities for all to flourish within the studies, respective careers and personal lives of our staff and students. 

The NWU will continue to educate staff and students with awareness campaigns and offer victims of violence emotional support. I encourage staff and students who find themselves on the receiving end of any acts of violence to immediately report this. We can then provide support and have the matter investigated. 

Let us step to the fore today and every day of the year and be counted as advocates and stewards of equality and change.

Great women of the NWU, our communities and country, the NWU salutes you!

#NWUcares #IAMNWU #GreaterThan 

Regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Commemoration: Youth Day 2021

16 June 2021

As we celebrate Youth Day, we are again reminded of the selfless acts of those who changed the course of a nation by letting their voices be heard. It is in their honour that the youth of today should also let their voices be heard for a better South Africa, Africa and world.

On 16 June 1976, forty-five years ago, some young people in our country gave impetus to the power of their voices, and in doing so, they became agents of change whose impact still reverberates. They laid the foundation for the current youth to be better leaders and pioneers of change and development.

The youth of 1976 played a pivotal role in ushering in the processes of a democratic dispensation and a Constitution that upholds the rights of every citizen. They showed that one is never too young to make a difference, tackle injustice, and conquer adversity.

Like their counterparts of 1976, young people of today are faced with a world of challenges. These are also social and economic, but with added environmental and sustainability aspects.

Today, South Africa is faced with the devastating social and economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic that continues to threaten more lives and livelihoods. There is a lot of rebuilding to do on many levels to repair this destruction. The rebuilding will require gallant and ethical leaders to move our country towards inclusive economic development and growth. The youth must rise to the occasion and participate in various sectors of our society.

There is no doubt that the pace of transformation and social justice in our country desperately needs to be accelerated for us to achieve real social cohesion. It is only through the appreciation and demonstration of inclusiveness, diversity and social cohesion that our country, and indeed the North-West University (NWU), can become stronger and address some of the lingering social and economic ills that were prevalent even before 1994.

Global warming and climate change are increasingly becoming threats that all of us must be concerned about, and we must involve ourselves in finding solutions to address them. The youth can and must play an important role to ensure a healthy and sustainable planet. The answers and solutions to our problems and challenges are not easy. However, the uncompromising spirit and determination of the youth can make meaningful contributions towards and have an impact on finding long-term solutions. The youth must be involved and make contributions towards the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

The NWU remains committed to enabling and supporting our youth through quality education to strengthen their voices in finding sustainable solutions to the challenges we face locally and internationally. We shall continue to prepare the youth for active citizenry through engaged scholarship, social responsiveness, and an ethic of care.

As the voices of South Africa’s brave young people of 1976 echo through our hearts and minds while we commemorate Youth Day, we are reminded too that through active citizenship every person can make a difference.

I urge all our students to be involved in the university’s community engagement programmes and other community-based projects.

Let us commemorate Youth Day responsibly and honourably.

Please keep safe.

Prof Dan Kgwadi              

Principal and Vice-chancellor

Passing away of Prof Marilyn Setlalentoa, DVC: Community Engagement and Mahikeng Campus Operations

20 May 2021

It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing away of Prof Marilyn Setlalentoa, the deputy vice-chancellor for community engagement and Mahikeng Campus operations. She passed away today, 20 May 2021, due to Covid-19 related complications.

Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends, and all her colleagues. We have indeed lost a pillar of the NWU family. 

We are in regular contact with the family and we will update you regarding a memorial service and funeral arrangements very soon. 

Warm regards
Prof Dan KgwadiPrincipal and Vice-Chancellor 

Workers’ Day signifies the crucial role played by employees

International Workers’ Day is promoted by the International Labour Movement as a day to celebrate the contributions and achievements of workers across the world. In South Africa, 1 May 2021 will mark 27 years since Workers’ Day was officially recognised and observed. It is also a day on which we acknowledge the role that the progressive labour movement and workers in general continue to play in our country.

This year, the North-West University (NWU) is celebrating all its employees for the resilience they have shown during this time of immense difficulties and uncertainty. Over the past year, you have all pulled out all the stops and adjusted to a new way of working and living.

Your resilience and hard work have, among other milestones, earned us a top spot in the latest rankings by the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR), which ranks the NWU in the top 4,7% of universities in the 2021/2022 edition of its Global 2000 list. This latest CWUR ranking positions the NWU ninth in Africa and seventh in South Africa. This magnificent achievement would not have been possible if it had not been for your hard work and dedication. You continue to make a very important contribution towards the success of the NWU. On behalf of management I would like to reiterate that we are working hard to create a culture that is characterised by transparency, respect, trust and engagement. This is crucial for our success and sustainability as a public higher-education institution.

Clearly, today’s workers/employees are faced with a new set of challenges. The pandemic and lockdown have emphasised the importance of taking care of our mental and emotional health. We understand that for employees to perform at their absolute best, they must be in a good space mentally and emotionally. Consequently, we will continue with initiatives aimed at creating a working environment that will respond effectively to the needs of our employees. We will also continue with the implementation of interventions that have been introduced in the course of the pandemic to support staff in dealing with mental health and associated illnesses.

I urge all staff to do everything possible to ensure that their mental health is not compromised as we continue to work differently and seek to find a healthy work-life balance. Those who are experiencing difficulties can contact the People and Culture: Wellness department for support and assistance.

As we commemorate Workers’ Day on 1 May, let us also take a moment to think about the colleagues who have lost their lives due to Covid-19 and other causes. Let us continue to offer support of whatever kind to their families and friends. Our thoughts must also go to the millions of people, in South Africa and globally, who have lost their jobs during the pandemic.

We salute all our employees for their continued resilience and determination to make the NWU a welcoming home for everyone. A lot remains to be done. So, as former President Mandela said, “whether you change the linen or stitch up wounds, cook the food or dispense the medicines, it is in your hands to help build a public service worthy of all those who gave their lives for the dream of democracy.” Let us continue to work together towards a better South Africa and Africa and also a better world, and – most particularly – towards the realisation of our dream to be an internationally recognised university in Africa, distinguished for engaged scholarship, social responsiveness and an ethic of care.

I wish you a memorable Workers’ Day.

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Let us celebrate and cherish our freedoms!

As we celebrate Freedom Day on 27 April, we are again reminded of the countless sacrifices and the tireless commitment of those who fought for our freedom. Freedom Day reminds us to appreciate the value of freedom, especially considering the Covid-19 pandemic that continues to disorganise our lives and threaten the day-to-day freedoms that some of us still take for granted.

On 27 April, it will have been 27 years since the first democratic elections in South Africa put the country on the road to political freedom. Although South Africa has come a long way since then, we are still faced with many obstacles to attain true social and economic justice for the majority of South Africans.

The number 27 is also significant because it reminds us of the 27 years that former President Nelson Mandela and many others sacrificed in jail during the fight for freedom. President Mandela’s words still ring as powerful today as when he first remarked that “for to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”.

It is with this respect for our own freedom and the freedom of others that the North-West University stays firmly committed to enabling and achieving equity and redress, and to empowering and uplifting South Africans through our academic programmes and other initiatives targeting communities. Guided by our ethic of care, we recommit ourselves to collaborate even more with our stakeholders in many sectors of society to offer teaching-learning and research programmes that uplift individuals and communities, and to empower them to enjoy their freedoms.

We know it is not easy, but we must continue to engage robustly about the prevailing challenges in our country and collectively work towards a future for which many men and women in our country sacrificed their lives. On this Freedom Day, let us remember that some of our fellow South Africans of different races and backgrounds lost their lives in advocating for a country in which citizens can hold different views, engage in robust debate, and at the same time respect the rights of those who are different from them in many ways. We must cherish these fellow South Africans and exercise our democratic rights respectfully.

If there is one thing that the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us so far it is that freedom is precious and can easily be restricted. Therefore we should cherish and enjoy our freedom every day while remaining conscious of the fact that the South African Constitution is the custodian and protector of the freedoms of all South Africans.

I urge all of us, members of the NWU community, to enjoy Freedom Day on 27 April, and to take a moment to reflect and recommit ourselves towards a full realisation of human rights and social justice in our country.  

 

Best wishes

Prof Dan Kgwadi
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

North-West University students expelled

4 April 2021

Three North-West University (NWU) students have been expelled from the university during the past two weeks because of their illegal actions in two separate incidents recently.

Read more

Commemoration of Human Rights day

21 March 2021

South Africa is 27 years into its democracy, and on this Human Rights Day which we celebrate on 21 March, we continue to be reminded of how far we have come as a country.

Human Rights Day memorialises the 69 people killed and 180 injured during the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960, which followed a march by ordinary people demonstrating against unjust pass laws, which infringed on their right to freedom of movement.

Fifty-one years after this tragedy, all South African citizens and residents of this beautiful country have equal human rights and responsibilities.

In line with Human Rights Day, the NWU is striving towards a year of solidarity and hope.

We envisage the NWU as an inclusive institution, which celebrates and welcomes staff and students from different cultural backgrounds and all walks of life.

When it comes to the dignity, freedom and rights of staff and students, we remain dedicated to the cause hence we have put policies in place to ensure that everyone can responsibly express who they are freely and fully participate in teaching, learning, work and social activities.

On this Human Rights Day, take a moment to consider how you can continue to show an ethic of care and uphold the human rights of all.

As the impact of Covid-19 continues to be felt across the globe, let us remember that we have rights, and with those rights come responsibilities; not only towards ourselves and our loved ones, but to all fellow men and women.

I urge all of you to comply with the university protocols aimed at curbing the spread of the virus as we strive for a year of harmony and hope together.

Thank you

Prof. Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Developments at our Mahikeng Campus

20 March 2021

Dear NWU Mahikeng Campus staff member and student

Today, I write to you to express my deep sadness and frustration in the way some of our Mahikeng Campus students conduct themselves, especially when there are calls for support and solidarity on matters at national level.

I have emphasised countless times that we, the North-West University, support and appreciate all initiatives aimed at ensuring students’ access and success in our country’s higher education sector. All our students at the three campuses and those on distance learning have a right to support the national calls for financial and other assistance for academically deserving students. Students are also free to raise issues with management through the university’s students’ structures and recognised channels.

There is a developing trend in which our Mahikeng Campus is constantly engulfed in violence, vandalism, and destruction of property as well as intimidation of stakeholders.

There does not seem to be any appreciation of the resources that we have been working hard to build to ensure equity of resources and student experiences across the three campuses.  This week, less than 100 students, including non-students with absolutely no interest in the success of the university nor the best interests of our students, caused damage to university property, and their actions led to the closure of the Mahikeng Campus. Staff could not gain access to the campus and could therefore not assist students with critical services, including financial clearances and registration. Our infrastructure development projects are also negatively affected since contractors cannot access the campus.

This year’s protest action is taking place in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic which continues to claim lives. We have spent millions to make our campuses Covid-19 regulations compliant, and to ensure that our students can return to campuses. We have done this because we value the health and safety of staff and students, and we want to create an environment that enables you to succeed. Whilst many of our staff and students have engaged in activities that positively reflect the solidarity of the NWU in fighting the pandemic, the current behaviour negates all our good intentions. These gatherings are super-spreader events as there is no adherence to the wearing of masks and social distancing. The university regrets the irresponsible actions currently displayed at our Mahikeng Campus.

We have spent a significant amount of funds to invest in security at the Mahikeng Campus to ensure the safety of our students. We are repeatedly compelled to use the already limited university funds to respond to the vandalism and destruction of university property during violent protests. We must appreciate that these are taxpayers’ funds which could be used for other services such as infrastructure development and funding for post-graduate students.

Ironically the same people who are destroying property are the ones who purport to be fighting for poor students. I need to make it abundantly clear that the continued vandalism and destruction of property will not solve our socio-economic problems. In fact, these actions will result in even more of our students unable to succeed academically.

Management is involved in discussions with the minister, USAF and NSFAS to consider sustainable solutions for this funding crisis. All of us must be involved in a constructive debate regarding long-term sustainable solutions for higher education funding in our country. This is critical for the development and growth of our beloved country. Short-termism will only deepen the funding crisis and derail future students’ access and success. 

We are working hard to raise funds and promote the university to our partners in the public and private sectors. Our consistent message to these partners and industry role-players is that the NWU is a unitary institution with each executive dean responsible for their faculty’s experiences across the three campuses. Therefore, there is no need to consider the campus at which the students are based when recruiting for employment and business opportunities because the students should have the same academic experience and knowledge.

The incidents that happened during this week and in the past are causing damage to this message and make it difficult for us to promote the university to external stakeholders. We have held many engagements with companies who have the perception that students from the Mahikeng Campus are irresponsible and cannot adapt to their companies’ work ethic and discipline due to the instability and vandalism at the campus. We were beginning to change that perception and some of these companies that were conducting career fairs at the Potchefstroom and Vanderbijlpark campuses only had made commitments to recruit students from the Mahikeng Campus. These recent developments have taken us back and will sadly affect all our graduates especially from our Mahikeng Campus

I know there are students at the Mahikeng Campus, who, despite the challenges they face, are dedicated to their studies, and would want to make a success of their future. Of the more than 50 thousand NWU students, there are 13 000 students at our Mahikeng Campus, and it is regrettable that their future seems to be in the hands of the very few students who have short-term interests. This is indeed very sad and painful.

In terms of the issues that have been raised by the Student Campus Council (SCC) during this registration period, management can confirm as follows:

  • Registration period has been extended until 26 March 2021;
  • We have taken a risk of using the university’s limited cash reserves, approximately R250 million, to cover for NSFAS allowances;
  • More than 94% of our senior students have been fully registered;
  • More than 72% of first-year students are fully registered. The situation at the Mahikeng Campus is contributing negatively towards the registration process;
  • All registered students who have indicated that they wish to return to campus and/or residences and/or private accommodation providers can do so. This will only apply when the campus reopens;
  • Post graduate students will no longer be funded by NSFAS. The university is still awaiting the DHET/NSFAS guidelines for clarity. High performing students in PGCE and LLB have been identified and are being offered full bursaries by the NWU;
  • All final-year students who qualify for merit bursaries in 2021 and have outstanding debt will be allowed to register;
  • There is no way that the North-West University can afford to cancel the students’ outstanding debt. Should we do that, we will need to get significant funding from government and other sources or begin to prepare for a crisis that may result in closing some of our schools and services;
  • The national regulations and NWU protocols aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19 remain in place; thus, the restrictions on certain issues including visits in residences are not permitted at this stage;
  • Conditionally registered students have been allowed to fully participate in the online academic programme, and 
  • All our university websites and eFundi sites have been zero-rated to enable access for students.


The Mahikeng Campus remains closed until the situation improves and staff can safely access the campus to perform their duties. We expect the academic programme to continue online, hence we need the situation to normalise so that the students without connectivity at their home(s) can return to campus and participate in the online teaching-learning mode.

This painful and regrettable trend must stop. Discussions between management and the student leaders are continuing and I am hopeful that sanity will prevail, and the campus can open next week. It is critical that the Mahikeng Campus students must finalise their registration and begin with the academic programme.

Regards

Prof. Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Continued blockade of the Mahikeng Campus

18 March 2021

Dear colleague

The NWU Management had hoped that the situation at the Mahikeng Campus would have improved by now. Regrettably, it appears that some members of the Student Campus Council (SCC) are determined to continue with the blockade of entrances into campus and thus ensuring that the campus does not function since staff cannot access the campus. This is affecting the registration process and other services that registered students deserve.

On 16 March, the NWU management decided to close the campus until further notice, because the safety of staff and students cannot be guaranteed under the current situation. In addition, there is lack of adherence to national Covid-19 regulations as well as the NWU protocols.

The academic activities have begun in earnest and our Mahikeng Campus students may have to participate in these activities online. You are encouraged to liaise with your faculty to make the necessary arrangements.

The campus remains closed and students who can leave the campus are encouraged to do so.

Herewith the numbers for student requests related to data, permission letters and other related queries:

Kind regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Current status of protest actions at the North-West University’s Mahikeng Campus

17 March 2021

Since Monday, 15 March 2021, students, and members of the public have been protesting outside the main entrance to the Mahikeng Campus in solidarity with the call for a national shutdown of all public universities. Staff are still unable to access the campus to render services to deserving students.

On 16 March, the NWU Management decided to close the campus until further notice, because the safety of staff and students cannot be guaranteed under the current situation. In addition, there is lack of adherence to national Covid-19 regulations as well as the NWU protocols.    

Various roads leading to the campus have been barricaded and tyres burnt since Monday, 15 March.  During the evening of 16 March, protesters tried to force their way into the campus by breaking the lock of the main gate. They were however prevented from entering the campus. Later in the evening, protesters also threw a petrol bomb at the guard house. Fortunately, the device did not explode but windows of the guard house were broken. The CCTV cameras covering the area were also tampered with.

There was also an incident where students are alleged to have assaulted an individual who was allegedly responsible for throwing the petrol bomb and damaging the CCTV cameras.

There is reasonable suspicion that not all the protesters are students. As a result, CCTV footage will be used for both criminal and/or student disciplinary cases. Cases of assault and malicious damage to property have also been registered with the Mmabatho Police Station.

The NWU management strongly condemns the recent spate of violence and damage to university property. We will need to use the already limited funds to fix the damaged property. We urge students to respect the university property and adhere to the necessary regulations and protocols. We remain committed to continue engagements with student leaders to ensure that all outstanding issues especially those within the control of the university can be addressed. Although we would like all matters including lack of funds to be addressed as a matter of urgency, we cannot, regrettably, resolve the issues that are beyond our mandate.   

We reiterate that we cannot guarantee the health and safety of students and staff amid this violence and damage to property; thus, students are requested to vacate the campus. We have received numerous requests from students to allow them to stay on campus due to travel and other challenges. These students should make the necessary arrangements with their respective Student Life Residence offices.

Staff should continue to work from home until further notice - an obvious setback for the university as a whole and especially to the students who are in dire need of assistance to clear their financial issues and register for the 2021 academic year. However, we must do everything possible to ensure the health and safety of the NWU community particularly students and staff.

Regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

To students and staff of the NWU Mahikeng Campus

16 March 2021

Dear students and staff of the NWU Mahikeng Campus

Due to the continued violations of Covid-19 regulations and protocols, as well as the inability of staff to access campus to render the necessary services to deserving students, the university management has taken a painful decision to close the Mahikeng Campus with immediate effect until further notice.

As communicated yesterday, registration period for all students has been extended until 26 March 2021.

This is obviously a setback for the university as a whole and especially to the students who are in dire need of assistance to clear their financial issues and register for the 2021 academic year. However, we must do everything possible to ensure the health and safety of the NWU community.

Students are requested to vacate the campus by 14:00 tomorrow, Wednesday, 17 March 2021, as the NWU cannot guarantee their safety under these volatile conditions, where campus security is severely compromised.

Staff are advised to liaise with their managers and make the necessary arrangements to work from home until further notice.

Please keep safe.

Regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

        

A year of continued solidarity and hope

3 February 2021

I trust that you are well. Welcome to the 2021 academic year. I hope you are reinvigorated and ready to tackle the challenges and opportunities of this academic year. Regrettably, we are still in the midst of a pandemic and the lockdown, which will undoubtedly continue to affect our operations negatively. We remain a contact university and would like to see a full return to our campuses – offices and classrooms – as soon as the situation allows. We are going to strive to continue to provide the differentiated student value proposition and quality student experience for which the North-West University (NWU) is renowned.

In the meantime, the situation remains devastating and full of challenges and unpredictability. In my communication of 28 January 2021, I announced that we had lost two members of the NWU family to Covid-19. Our cumulative figures of members of the NWU family who have either tested positive or have been exposed to Covid-19 are growing daily. Let us continue to comply with the necessary regulations and protocols.

We will continue with the delivery of our programmes in the limited-contact teaching-learning modality for Semester 1 as per my communication of 26 January 2021: Amendment of teaching-learning for the first semester 2021. Let us use the experiences and lessons of 2020 regarding online teaching-learning to achieve a successful 2021 academic year.

Council approved the NWU Teaching-Learning Strategy at the end of 2020. To this end, the revision of the Teaching, Learning and Assessment Rules, and the faculties’ teaching-learning plans will take place during 2021. I wish all involved in the revision a smooth and successful process. This is a crucial initiative for our academic project.

Regarding research and innovation it is encouraging that despite Covid-19 challenges, the NWU publication submissions for 2020 were almost the same as the total output of 2019. This may improve when more publications are submitted during February 2021, resulting in a better performance for 2020 compared to 2019. I want to thank staff and students for this achievement. Let us make 2021 even better. I know it is not going to be easy, but I urge all our postgraduate students and staff to find inventive ways to continue with their research and innovation.

The finalisation and implementation of our digital business strategy (DBS) should gain momentum during this academic year. It is envisioned that the full roll-out of the DBS will enable us to enhance the delivery of our programmes and services, including those mentioned above.

The higher-education sector is experiencing difficulties that are affecting both staff and students. We are working with various stakeholders in the sector, including the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), to find sustainable solutions to problems posed by the pandemic.

We note the government’s pronouncement regarding the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out plans and we will continue to liaise with the relevant stakeholders and update our staff and students accordingly.

I look forward to welcoming our students, including first-year students. Please note the registration dates.

Some of our staff and students are returning to campuses to continue with their work and studies. I urge all those returning to campuses to comply with the university protocols aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. The university will continue to operate at the highest possible level of vigilance and care to ensure the health and safety of our staff and students.

I take this opportunity to thank our key stakeholders – including the Council, the donor community, our alumni and the broader NWU family – for the collaboration and support in various areas of our university.

Let us continue to work towards the realisation of our dream to be an internationally recognised university in Africa, distinguished for engaged scholarship, social responsiveness and an ethic of care. Working together, especially during these challenging times, we can ensure that the NWU remains one of the leading universities in our country and on our continent.

I look forward to engaging with you further during this academic year.

Please take care.

Warm regards
Prof Dan Kgwadi
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

 

View archived messages from 2020