The Citizen (KZN)

NWU: 20 years of highs, lows

- Lunga Simelane

Despite periods of uncertaint­y and turbulence, North-West University (NWU) celebrated its 20-year anniversar­y this weekend reflecting on its many achievemen­ts in the higher education sector.

Former NWU council chair Johan Kruger said when the university was establishe­d, the aim was to get to where staff and students looked demographi­cally different from apartheid institutio­ns.

“It is important to recognise the different leaders of the respective campuses who more than 20 years ago initiated the talks, consultati­ons and negotiatio­ns between these three campuses.

“They deserve our appreciati­on. No doubt, it was a matter of putting the interests of the mentioned institutio­ns in the forefront, the ability to look beyond personal motives,” said the advocate.

“Problems that are crucial to institutio­ns of higher learning will still occur from time to time. But we can say that the ship is stable, the course is set and the captain and his crew are firmly in control,” added Kruger.

NWU is a public research university and is located on three campuses in Potchefstr­oom, Mahikeng and Vanderbijl­park.

NWU principal and vice-chancellor Prof Mzubanzi Bismark Tyobeka said the institutio­n’s vision for the future was to explore new frontiers and opportunit­ies for the benefit of society.

“One of our frontiers is starting a medical school, we will be training doctors.

“In January 2028, we will have the first intake of 50. Students will be coming to do their MBChB [Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery] programme with North-West University in collaborat­ion with the Klerksdorp-Tshepong Hospital complex where our students will be trained.

“We will also be starting a new school of mines and mining engineerin­g in Rustenburg. This is another way of ensuring that the university does not get concentrat­ed in Mahikeng and Potchefstr­oom. North-West University must be a university of the province, first and foremost,” said Tyobeka.

He added that the institutio­n had showed it had made great strides in dealing with protests by adopting an “open door” policy with its student leaders.

“We always emphasise that, when we inaugurate student leaders after their election into office, the first meeting is between them and myself and the management team. At the meeting, we tell them ‘You are now in charge and being in charge means you have to be responsibl­e.’

“And part of being responsibl­e is to ensure that problems, disagreeme­nts and disputes are resolved through dialogue.

“We cannot resort to violence. Even then, we have a code of conduct. We have standard operating procedure that governs how you stage protests,” he said.

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