The Stellenbosch University (SU) Council approved a new vision and strategic framework for the institution at its second scheduled meeting for the year, on Monday 18 June 2018.
The constant change in higher education requires a suitable response from those involved in a university at a specific time in history. This is especially true for SU as it enters its second century. Council had mandated management to develop a new roadmap for the future, and we are satisfied that the resulting new framework will serve the institution well.
Please find more details below – also about other discussion points and decisions at our meeting on Monday. These include revising the Statute, a faculty renewal strategy, the integrated annual report and consolidated financial statements for 2017, the management reports of the Rector as well as of the Vice-Rector: Social Impact, Transformation and Personnel, two additional research chairs, the Division of Student Access, and new Council members and officials.
On behalf of Council, I wish you well for the rest of 2018, SU's Centenary year. With a new vision and strategic framework in place, the University can now face the future with confidence.
Chairperson: SU Council
[Pictured above are Council members at the meeting on 18 June 2018, from left (back row), Prof Stan du Plessis, Messrs Johan Theron, Charl Cillié, Hubert Brody and Wayde Davidse, Profs Joan Hambidge, Johan Fourie, Nico Koopman, Gerhard Maré, Eugene Cloete, Usuf Chikte and André Coetzee, Mr Jannie Durand, and Profs AndréKeet and Aslam Fataar; and (front row) Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel, Mr Lwando Nkamisa, Adv Gesie van Deventer, Prof Wim de Villiers, Mr George Steyn, Prof Amanda Gouws, Ms Khungeka Njobe, Mr Anthony Dietrich and Adv Jean Meiring. (Photograph: Stefan Els)]
New vision and strategic framework for SU
Council approved Vision 2040 for SU on Monday, positioning the institution to become “Africa's leading research-intensive university, globally recognised as excellent, inclusive and innovative", where knowledge is advanced in service of society.
SU's new overarching Strategic Framework 2019-2024 was also approved. Together, they replace the University's existing Vision 2030 and Institutional Intent and Strategy 2013-2018, which are expiring this year.
For the past two years, Prof Hester Klopper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Strategy and Internationalisation, has been spearheading an inclusive drafting process to chart the way forward. Five task teams investigated different aspects, staff and students were consulted on the values of the University, and various levels of management as well as formal University structures provided detailed input. The Social and Business Ethics Committee of Council, the Institutional Forum, the executive committees of Senate and Council, as well as Senate itself all recommended the new vision and strategic framework to Council.
In his foreword, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers states that the new vision and strategic framework bear testimony to “SU's commitment to being relevant to its context and of service to our country and continent – an inclusive, world-class university in and for Africa".
Prof Klopper described the new vision and strategic framework as “unapologetically bold", adding that SU is confident that the framework “maximises our strengths, while also allowing us space to grow".
A unique aspect of the new strategic framework is that students and staff are for the first time specifically included in the core strategic themes the University will be pursuing. In particular, SU will strive to deliver a transformative student experience and to become the employer of choice in the higher education sector.
The remaining four core strategic themes are networked and collaborative teaching and learning, research for impact, purposeful partnerships and inclusive networks, and a thriving Stellenbosch University. The emphasis on “thriving" is another distinctive feature of SU's framework, going beyond sustainability to also include to be successful, make steady progress, prosper and flourish.
Council's approval now concludes phase 1 of the process to review SU's vision and strategy. Next, phases 2 and 3 will unfold in tandem – respectively focusing on the uptake of the new strategy throughout the University, and aligning existing policies and procedures with the new guiding framework.
More detailed communication will follow in due course. Visit this web page to read more about the process thus far and the way forward.
Revision of the Statute
Council noted that a first draft of a proposed new Statute for the University was released in April as part of an internal and public consultation process. This follows on a Council decision of 26 September 2016 that called for a comprehensive revision of the Statute. A task team led by the Registrar, Dr Ronel Retief, compiled the draft in collaboration with experts and based on input gathered through workshops.
The document was tabled to faculty boards and other University bodies for consideration and comment, and external stakeholders were also invited to provide input. According to the planning timeline, a final draft will be submitted via the relevant structures to Council for approval in November.
Faculty renewal strategy
Last year, the Rectorate set as a strategic priority for the University a renewal strategy for two of SU's faculties – Education, and Arts and Social Sciences. A process was subsequently initiated to support these faculties, with a specific focus on systemic sustainability.
At our meeting on Monday, Council received an update from Prof Hester Klopper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Strategy and Internationalisation, who has been leading the process. She assured Council that the Rectorate is cognisant of the strategic value of Education and of Arts and Social Sciences for the University and the country as a whole, considering SU's crucial role in society. Academic considerations will get priority in the renewal process.
Steps to date have included communication with the two faculties, the setting up of a steering committee, the appointment of a project consultant to conduct an analysis and make recommendations, and the establishment of four working groups in each faculty to respectively focus on:
- academic programme renewal;
- student enrolment, graduation and research outputs;
- academic and staff matters (allocation, ratios and trends); and
- financial matters.
The intention is to table a final proposal for consideration and approval at the Council meeting on 26 November 2018 via the faculty boards concerned as well as Senate.
Integrated annual report for 2017
Council considered and approved SU's integrated annual report for 2017, including the University's audited consolidated financial statements for the year.
The Rectorate had been closely involved in writing and evaluating the report, and the Audit and Risk Committee of Council recommended the report – with amendments – to the meeting on Monday.
Being responsible for oversight over academic and operational issues as well as policy and strategy at SU, Council finds it encouraging that the institution continues to excel, despite financial challenges in these turbulent times.
As required, Council approved the going-concern status of SU and expressed the opinion that SU found itself in a favourable financial position and would continue as a going concern over the following 12 months. This was at the recommendation of Council's Audit and Risk Committee, who also reported that the external audit of the University for 2017 had yielded no material findings.
The integrated annual report, including the financial statements, will now be submitted to the Minister of Higher Education and Training by 30 June 2018, as required. An electronic copy will then be uploaded to the SU website, before the report will be printed and distributed. It will be available in English and Afrikaans.
SU has also completed a Governance Indicators Scorecard for Councils of South African Public Higher Education Institutions. This document, a newly introduced requirement, will be submitted to the Department of Higher Education and Training by the same deadline.
Social Impact, Transformation and Personnel
At this meeting, it was the turn of SU Vice-Rector: Social Impact, Transformation and Personnel, Prof Nico Koopman, to table an annual report on his responsibility centre.
He pointed out that the University has now embarked on a journey towards implementation of the range of policies and plans on issues such as transformation, social impact, employment equity, discrimination and sexual harassment, disability access and viable sourcing adopted over the past few years.
Prof Koopman reported on significant progress made with achieving consensus on core terminology such as “embedded social impact", “embedded transformation" and “embedded staff well-being". Institutional ownership of these three central imperatives is growing in all SU environments. Although a lot still needs to be done in this regard, significant progress has already been made.
A thorough discussion of transformation also revealed SU's favourable position to develop research-based parameters and practices for transformation in higher education and broader society.
Click here for his full report, and here for his presentation to Council.
Further growth in research chairs
The Rector reported [click here for his full report] that two new DST/NRF SARChI chairs had been awarded to SU – the chair in innovative rehabilitation to Prof Quinette Louw (Physiotherapy) and the chair in food environments, nutrition and health to Prof Xikombiso Mbhenyane (Human Nutrition). Both chairs are based in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Prof Louw's research under the SARChI chair award will focus on promoting a long and healthy life for all South Africans by improving the quality of healthcare, with a particular focus on new and innovative approaches to rehabilitation.
Prof Mbhenyane's research, in turn, will aim to strengthen and broaden knowledge generation and capacity-building for human nutrition. This will be in line with the National Department of Health's goal of strengthening the available human resources to deliver nutrition services, particularly population-based prevention and promotion services.
SU now has 45 research chairs – nearly double the number we had five years ago. Of these, 27 form part of SARChI (the South African Research Chairs Initiative) and are funded by the Department of Science and Technology. Another 18 research chairs at the University are funded by other sponsors.
Division of Student Access
Council took note that the name of the Centre for Prospective Students had been changed to the Division of Student Access. The new name now encompasses the complete range of services provided by the entity and is also in line with the strategic focus area of “student access with success", as contained in the environmental plan of the Learning and Teaching responsibility centre. The Division consists of the centres for Student Recruitment and Career Advice, Admissions and Residence Placement, Undergraduate Bursaries and Loans, and the Contact and Client Services Centre, which provides services to both prospective and current students.
New Council members and officials
Council elected Mr Ainsley Moos (pictured below) as its new deputy chairperson on Monday. He succeeds Prof PW van der Walt, whose term expired earlier this year.
Mr George Steyn was re-elected as chairperson, having been a member of Council since 2010 (elected by donors) and chair since 2012.
Prof Joan Hambidge and Mr Johan Theron (both elected by the Convocation) as well as Ms Khungeka Njobe (elected by Council) were reappointed to Council, while Profs Amanda Gouws and Usuf Chikte (both elected by Senate) were reappointed at the previous meeting of Council, on 26 March.
In addition, Council welcomed a number of new members – Mr Hubert Brody (elected by donors), Mr Charl Cillié and Adv Jean Meiring (both elected by Convocation) and Mr Wayde Davidse (elected by permanent non-academic staff members).
The next Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 26 September 2018.