Our Strategy Groups, made up of experts from the university system (and also from Universities South Africa’s partners in the broader higher education and related sectors) play a vital role in the development and implementation of strategies within their respective areas of focus. Universities South Africa has five strategy groups.

The responsibilities of the Strategy Groups are to:

  • Present regular reports to the Board for discussion and adoption;
  • Conceptualise specific projects on behalf of the Board;
  • Support the EXCO with advocacy and related work, particularly on issues relating to their specific portfolios; and
  • Deal with any other matter referred by the Board or EXCO (including to commission studies around agreed priority issues to inform strategic discussions and decisions).

Universities South Africa’s Strategy Groups meet three times a year, prior to Board meetings – depending on their scope of work.

Funding Strategy Group (FSG)

The Funding Strategy Group provides strategic direction to the Board and EXCO on strategic university funding matters and engages with policy matters in this regard. It also advises the Board on projects to be undertaken by Universities South Africa and implementation strategies related to Higher Education funding.

Members (2023):

  • Professor Bismark Tyobeka (Group Chairperson, and Principal and Vice-Chancellor: North-West University)
  • Professor Thoko Mayekiso – University of Mpumalanga
  • Ms Elmarie de Beer – North-West University
  • Professor Gerald Ouma – University of Pretoria
  • Mr Manie Lombard – Stellenbosch University
  • Ms Nolwazi Mamorare – University of Johannesburg
  • Mr Hardy Maritz — University of Cape Town
  • Dr Thelma Louw – University of South Africa
  • Dr Phethiwe Matutu – Universities SA (ex officio member)

Priority focus areas for 2023

  • Study on the long-term financial sustainability of the higher education sector considering income streams and efficiencies;
  • Sustainable financial support for students;
  • Funding for student accommodation and other university infrastructure;
  • Shared services platform for the broader university sector; and
  • Inequalities in the system

Research and Innovation Strategy Group (RISG)

The Research and Innovation Strategy Group provides the Board with specialised advice regarding research and innovation matters in the sector. It works through task teams and steering committees to undertake or direct certain projects and draws expertise from among its members within the Higher Education sector and National System of Innovation (NSI).

Members (2023):

  • Professor Thoko Mayekiso (Group Chairperson, and Vice-Chancellor, University of Mpumalanga)
  • Professor Sinha Saurabh – University of Johanesburg
  • Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim – University of Kwa-Zulu Natal and CAPRISA
  • Professor Thabo Msibi – University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Professor Jose Franz — University of the Western Cape
  • Dr Bernard Nthambeleni — University of Venda.
  • Prof Deresh Ramjugernath – Stellenbosch University
  • Prof Jesika Singh – University of Limpopo
  • Professor Sue Harrison – University of Cape Town
  • Prof Stephanie Burton – University of Pretoria
  • Dr Phethiwe Matutu – Universities SA (ex officio member)

Priority focus areas for 2023

  • Innovation and entrepreneurship;
  • Research impact;
  • Cooperation and collaboration on internationalisation (funding opportunities); and
  • Engaged science and scholarship.

World of Work Strategy Group (WSG)

Established during 2018, this group advises the USAf Board and the member institutions on changes and trends in the world of work and their implications on the mandate and obligations of the Higher Education sector. Among other functions, the group explores and considers the trends and implications on the world of work towards 2030 and beyond. It will influence world-of-work-related policies by leading on formal engagement with regulators, and also with industry and other employers of graduates. It will identify issues of mutual interest or concern to public universities and initiate work on USAf’s position papers or formulate and provide position papers as and when mandated by the Board of Directors to do so.

Members (2023):

  • Professor Thandwa Mthembu (Group Chairperson, and Vice-Chancellor, Durban University of Technology)
  • Dr Henri Jacobs, Director: Work Integrated Learning & Skills of Central University of Technology
  • Professor Derrick Swartz, Special Advisor to the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation and former Vice-Chancellor of Nelson Mandela University
  • Dr Engela van Staden, Vice-Rector: Academic; University of the Free State
  • Dr Colin Thakur, Director: InSETA Research Chair in Digitalisation; Durban University of Technology
  • Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg
  • Professor Sibusiso Moyo, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation & Engagement of Durban University of Technology
  • Dr Phethiwe Matutu – Universities SA (ex officio member)

Priority focus areas for 2023

  • Impact of new technologies on the labour market;
  • Work Integrated Learning (WIL) and Internships;
  • Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education;
  • Fourth Industrial Revolution;
  • Graduate Destinations.

Teaching and Learning Strategy Group (TLSG)

The Teaching and Learning Strategy Group provides strategic advice to the Universities South Africa Board on teaching and learning related matters within the Higher Education sector, locally and internationally. It also undertakes relevant research and project activities that enable Universities South Africa to respond effectively to the issues of access and success.

Members (2023):

  • Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng (Group Chairperson, and Vice-Chancellor, University of Cape Town)
  • Dr Christine Boughey – Rhodes University
  • Professor Jan Crafford – University of Venda
  • Dr Noluthando Toni – Nelson Mandela University
  • Professor Francois Strydom – University of the Free State
  • Professor Vivienne Lawack – University Of the Western Cape
  • Professor Nokuthula Sibiya – Durban University of Technology
  • Prof Vasu Reddy – University of Pretoria
  • Prof Laura Czerniewicz – University of Cape Town
  • Dr Phethiwe Matutu – Universities SA (ex officio member)

Priority focus areas for 2023

  • Transforming the curriculum for societal impact.
  • Optimising technologies to improve the quality of teaching and learning, and assessment within the changing world of work.
  • Understanding and enabling student success and retention; and
  • Improving the quality and scholarship of teaching and learning through academic
    staff development

Transformation Strategy Group (TSG)  

The Transformation Strategy Group was formed to advise the Board on how to accelerate and deepen transformation within the university sector, and to develop short, medium to long-term strategies to address transformation matters in the sector. The Group also advises the Board on emerging good practices, and on practices with a potential to undermine transformation in the sector.

Members (2023):

  • Professor Puleng LenkaBula – Group Chairperson and Vice-Chancellor, University of South Africa
  • Professor Grace Khunou – University of South Africa
  • Dr Sianne Alves – University of Cape Town
  • Professor Thoko Mayekiso – University of Mpumalanga
  • Professor Pamela Dube – University of the Western Cape
  • Dr Sibusiso Chalufu — North-West University
  • Mr Jerome September — University of the Witwatersrand
  • Dr Saloschini Pillay — University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Professor Andre Keet – Nelson Mandela University
  • Dr Phethiwe Matutu – Universities SA (ex officio member)

Priority focus areas for 2023

  • ‘Placing Students at the Centre’: The reconstitution of institutional culture by focusing on the design of the universities to optimize student development and growth;
  • ‘The Engaged University’: Establishing a national project to theorize and build models of universities that are engaged in the local context in which they find themselves;
  • Transformation Dialogue
  • Review of universal access and disabilities support in higher education- ;
  • Inequalities highlighted by COVID-19 and accelerated uses of technologies.
  • Campus safety with a focus on mental health and positively influencing higher education sector responses to gender-based violence.