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Establishment of New Universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga Provinces

Frequently Asked Questions

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How will the new universities be funded?

State funds in the form of earmarked grants and subsidies will be the main source of funding during the 10-year development programme as the new universities develop the capacity to generate and maintain an income base. National Treasury has confirmed an allocation of more than R2 billion over the 2013/14 - 2015/16 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for the development of the new universities following the submission of feasibility studies completed for each of the universities in November 2012. This funding is critically important for the start-up of the new universities as income from teaching input and output block grants is linked to the growth in student enrolments and the production of graduates; the full benefit of which will only be derived with growing student numbers and graduates.

The funding committed for the start-up capital development process is in addition to the funds set aside for the 23 universities in the country. The full development of the institutions requires significant further investment over the ten year period. Total capital and operational costs are estimated in current Rand values to be about R6,6 b for the Northern Cape (5000 FET students) and about R10.3b for Mpumalanga (15 000 FTE students)..

How will the required capacity be established to run the university in the context of the limited institutional management and academic capacity in the higher education sector?

The DHET is working closely with partner universities in the higher education system to support the development of the required start-up and long-term capacity of the new institutions. This approach draws on the strengths of expertise available in the higher education system and in partner institutions delivering the selected programmes. Partnerships with existing universities offer several benefits including access to their experience in the delivery of the programmes, advice on quality assurance and the development of the required long-term human resources. A number of partner institutions have agreed to serve as "sponsor" universities for the preparation and development of the 2014 start-up programme. Measures such as recruitment of permanent staff, secondments from other universities and fast-track staff development programmes will be employed to build the capacity of the institutions.


What are the start-up programmes for 2014 and how many students will it accommodate?

The 2014 start-up programmes for the Sol Plaatje University in the Northern Cape are:

  • Bachelor of Education (Senior Phase and Further Education and Training)
  • Diploma in ITC (Applications Development)
  • Diploma in Retail Business Management

The Bachelor of Education will accommodate 75 students, while the Diploma in Retail Business Management will accommodate 30 students and the Diploma in ITC a further 25 students.

The 2014 start-up programmes for the University of Mpumalanga are:

  • Bachelor of Education (Foundation Phase)
  • Bachelor of Agriculture
  • Diploma in Hospitality Management

The Bachelor of Education will accommodate 100 students, while the Bachelor in Agriculture will accommodate 20 students and the Diploma in Hospitality Management a further 20 students. 


Where can I find information on the entrance criteria for the different programmes as well as the application and enrolment process?

Information on the entrance criteria will be available on the websites of the Sol Plaatje University (www.spu.ac.za) and the University of Mpumalanga (to be activated by the end of October 2013). Details of the application and enrolment process will be provided at this time.


Where will the academic programmes for the 2014 start-up programmes be delivered?

Existing buildings and infrastructure will be used for the delivery of the 2014 start-up programmes.

In the Northern Cape the programmes will primarily be delivered at the Old Legislalture Building which currently houses the National Institute for Higher Education (NIHE) in Chapel Street, Kimberley and the William Pescod School.

Programmes will be delivered at three different sites for the University of Mpumalanga. The Bachelor of Education will be delivered at the Siyabuswa Campus; the Diploma in Hospitality Management will be delivered at the Mpumalanga Regional Training Trust Hotel Academy in KaNyamazane, just outside of Nelspruit; and the Bachelor in Agriculture will be delivered at the Lowveld College of Agriculture.


When does construction start?

Architectural Design Competitions are currently in progress to enable the selection of a panel of architects for each university. The results will be announced by October 2013.

Construction in Kimberley will start in August 2013 with the development of the focal square for the new university. The first new academic buildings will be completed in 2014 in time for the start of the 2015 academic year.

Construction of new buildings at the Lowveld College of Agriculture is expected to commence in September 2014 after the completion of the Environmental Impact Assessment surveys. 


Where can I find information on the services required by the universities and how can I get involved in delivering services to the new institutions?

The universities will advertise tenders as and when they require services. These tender notices will also be placed on the new universities website (www.newuniversities.ac.za) and prospective service providers are encouraged to visit the website regularly to check for updates and notices. 


How will local communities benefit from the development of the new universities?

The new universities will have a positive impact on economic and social development in a number of ways. In the first instance, the university will create jobs directly through the construction of its infrastructure. Second, it will create jobs directly through employment of academic, administrative, and support personnel. This will contribute directly to employment in the province. Moreover, income earned by university employees can have a significant "multiplier" effect in the local economy. This multiplier effect is created through spending by university employees and re-spending decisions made by employees in sectors where there is increased demand for goods and services as a result of the initial university-induced expenditure.

In order to function as an educational institution, the university will be a major purchaser of goods and services. If a significant proportion of these purchases is made locally, that will provide a major boost to the economy and indirectly contribute to further increases in employment.


Who were the stakeholders consulted in the process?

Prior to November 2011, stakeholders consultations were undertaken as part of the work of the Task Teams appointed by the Minister to consider the feasibility of establishing the universities. These consultations involved a variety of stakeholders including government and business communities.

The stakeholder consultation process since November 2011 consisted of one-on-one meetings, workshops, and the notice and comment procedures. The DHET met with numerous interested and affected parties comprising of educational institutions, provincial and local government organisations, alliance partners, student organisations, unions and private sector organisations and businesses. The Development Framework for the New Universities of the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga Provinces was published in the Government Gazette of 23 August 2012 to invite public comment. In addition, the invitation to comment on the Development Framework was sent to 78 individuals at 41 different institutions. The DHET had received 22 responses by September 2012. In addition, the Minister invited nominations for members of the Interim Council by notice in the Government Gazette of 7 December 2012.


Where are the sites for the new universities and how were the sites selected?

The seat and main campus for the University in Mpumalanga will be at the Lowveld College of Agricultural, a site overlooking the City of Nelspruit and close to the new Provincial Parliament. Nelspruit is the capital of the Mpumalanga province and the administrative and business hub of the Lowveld region. It is the most integrated town with respect to provincial and national road and rail infrastructure. The town boasts an international airport and is close, and en route, to the Kruger National Park and the capital cities of neighbouring countries, Swaziland and Mozambique. The existing Lowveld Agricultural College is situated on a 240-hectare property that is well established and well maintained. The property is directly linked to both the N4 and R40 movement corridors and is highly visible. It is also owned by the Government and has established bulk infrastructure, roads and services. This site offers quick operational and academic establishment. It is within close proximity to retail, commercial and recreational amenities.

In the sparsely populated and arid Northern Cape Province, Kimberley offers the best conditions and environment to support the establishment of a world-class university with a student population of five thousand. The town offers a range of retail and community facilities and is an established tourism and recreation centre. Structurally, the town of Kimberley is well located within the national movement structure - on the Cape Town to Gauteng route - by both road and rail infrastructure. The town is also serviced by an airport that connects it to major cities in South Africa. The University Seat is situated in a central location in the inner-city, enjoying high visibility as an institution of national importance with the ability to establish an iconic identity. The location of the academic and administrative component of the university is focused around the established central civic open space of the city, with maximum accessibility to the city and surrounds. The central location offers various existing amenities, which have the capacity to support the new university.

The decision to establish the universities in Kimberley and Nelspruit was taken after 18 potential sites were assessed against the following criteria:

Town Selection Criteria

  • The Inspirational and Iconic Role of the New Universities
  • Accessibility and Connectivity
  • Quality of Support Structures for Staff and Students


Site Selection

  • Good Site Accessibility
  • Iconic Setting
  • Size and Nature of the Sites
  • Cost and Time Efficiencies


When does the appointment of academic staff commence?

Once the universities are established as juristic persons the Interim Councils will commence with the appointment of management and academic staff. In the case of academic staff, appointments will commence once the academic programmes have been accredited by the Council for Higher Education (CHE). This is expected to take place in September 2013. Academic posts at various levels in these disciplines will be advertised in the national press in the next few months.