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 (2021):

  • Prof Tawana Kupe (Group Chairperson, and Vice-Chancellor: University of Pretoria)
  • Prof Thoko Mayekiso – University of Mpumalanga
  • Ms Elmarie de Beer – North-West University
  • Dr Gerald Ouma – University of Pretoria
  • Mr Manie Lombard – Stellenbosch University
  • Mr Manie Regal – University of the Western Cape
  • Mr Hardy Maritz — University of Cape Town
  • Prof Ahmed Bawa – Universities SA CEO (ex officio member)

Priority focus areas for 2021

  • Study on the long-term financial sustainability of the higher education sector considering funding and financing mechanisms and systems;
  • Sustainable financial support for students;
  • Updating of regulations for reporting, including dashboard financial indicators for the sector;
  • Updating of the Higher Education Price Index;
  • Funding for student accommodation and other university infrastructure; and
  • The Fee Regulatory Framework.

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 membership within the Higher Education sector and National System of Innovation (NSI).

Members (2021):

  • Prof Thoko Mayekiso (Group Chairperson, and Vice-Chancellor, University of Mpumalanga)
  • Dr Chris Nhlapo – Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  • Prof Eugene Cloete – Stellenbosch University
  • Prof Corli Witthuhn – University of the Free State
  • Prof Deresh Ramjugernath – Stellenbosch University
  • Prof Stephanie Burton – University of Pretoria
  • Prof Zeblon Vilakazi – University of the Witwatersrand
  • Prof Ahmed Bawa –Universities SA CEO (ex officio member)

Priority focus areas for 2021

  • Open Science and Open access;
  • Building platforms for collaboration across the sector and internationally;
  • Transformation and capacity development;
  • Funding for postgraduate studies and research; and
  • Research infrastructure in the current context.

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 (2021):

  • Prof Henk de Jager, Chairperson, Vice-Chancellor of Central University of Technology
  • Dr Henri Jacobs, Director: Work Integrated Learning & Skills of Central University of Technology
  • Prof Derrick Swartz, former Vice-Chancellor of Nelson Mandela University
  • Dr Engela van Staden, Vice-Rector: Academic of University of the Free State
  • Dr Colin Thakur, Director: NEMISA KZN e-Skills CoLab of Durban University of Technology
  • Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice-Chancellor of University of Johannesburg
  • Professor Sibusiso Moyo, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation & Engagement of Durban University of Technology
  • Prof Ahmed Bawa, Universities SA CEO (ex officio member)

Priority focus areas for 2021

  • 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 (2021):

  • Dr Sizwe Mabizela (Group Chairperson, and Vice-Chancellor, Rhodes University)
  • Prof Angina Parekh – University of Johannesburg
  • Dr Christine Boughey – Rhodes University
  • Prof Jan Crafford – University of Venda
  • Dr Noluthando Toni – Nelson Mandela University
  • Prof Francois Strydom – University of the Free State
  • Prof Vasu Reddy – University of Pretoria
  • Prof Ahmed Bawa – Universities SA CEO (ex officio member)

Priority focus areas for 2021

  • Transforming the curriculum; decolonisation / increased employability, etc.
  • Optimising technologies to improve the quality of teaching and learning;
  • 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 (2021):

  • Prof Puleng LenkaBula – Group Chairperson and Vice-Chancellor, University of South Africa
  • Mr George Mvalo – Vaal University of Technology
  • Prof Thoko Mayekiso –  University of Mpumalanga
  • Prof 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
  • Prof Andre Keet – Nelson Mandela University
  • Prof Ahmed Bawa –  Universities SA CEO (ex officio member)

Priority focus areas for 2021

  • The reconstruction of institutional culture by focussing on the design of universities around our students and staff, with emphasis on residences and the curriculum;
  • Establishing a national project to theorise and to build models of universities that are seriously engaged in the local context in which they find themselves;
  • National Higher Education Conference 2021;
  • Review of practices related to people with disabilities in higher education with a view to improving responses;
  • Positively influencing higher education sector responses to gender-based violence; and
  • Inequalities highlighted by COVID-19.