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 (2020):

  • Dr Sibongile Muthwa (Group Chairperson, and Vice-Chancellor, Nelson Mandela University)
  • Prof  Rob Midgley – Walter Sisulu University
  • Prof Kupe Tawana – University of  Pretoria
  • 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 2020

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

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 (2020):

  • 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 Refilwe Phaswana-Mafuya – North-West University
  • Prof Deresh Ramjugernath – University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • 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 2020

  • Ethical research;
  • Open science and open access;
  • Building platforms for collaboration across the sector;
  • Transformation and capacity development;
  • Funding for postgraduate studies and research;
  • Doctoral training centres; and
  • Research infrastructure including cyberinfrastructure

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 (2020):

  • Professor Henk de Jager (Group Chairperson and Vice-Chancellor, CUT)
  • Professor Tshilidzi Marwala — University of Johannesburg
  • Professor Derrick Swartz – former Vice-Chancellor, Nelson Mandela University
  • Dr Colin Thakur –  Durban University of Technology and member of the Ministerial Team on 4IR
  • Dr Henri Jacobs – Central University of Technology and Chair of the South African Technology Network Work Integrated Learning Committee
  • Dr Engela van Staden – University of the Free State
  • Professor Ahmed Bawa – Universities SA CEO (ex officio member)

Priority focus areas for 2020

  • 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 (2020):

  • Dr Sizwe Mabizela (Group Chairperson, and Vice-Chancellor, Rhodes University)
  • Prof Angina Parekh – University of Johannesburg
  • Dr Christine Boughey – Rhodes University
  • Prof Gugu Moche – University of South Africa
  • Prof Jan Crafford – University of Venda
  • Dr Noluthando Toni – Nelson Mandela University
  • Prof Nomthandazo Gwele – Durban University of Technology
  • Prof Suellen Shay – University of Cape Town
  • 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 2020

  • Transformation of the curriculum (including 4IR, decolonisation and inequality redress);
  • Structure of certificates, diplomas and degrees;
  • Technologies in Education;
  • The Student Success Project (including learning analytics, and a national dialogue on data generating projects for student success); and
  • 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 (2020):

  • Prof Yunus Ballim (Group Chairperson, and Vice-Chancellor, Sol Plaatje University)
  • Prof Gordon Zide – Vaal University of Technology
  • Mr George Mvalo – Vaal University of Technology
  • Prof Thoko Mayekiso –  University of Mpumalanga
  • Prof Pamela Dube –  University of the Western Cape
  • Dr Sibongile Muthwa –  Nelson Mandela University
  • Prof Mandla Makhanya — University of South Africa
  • Dr Sibusiso Chalufu — University of South Africa
  • Mr Jerome September — University of the Witwatersrand
  • Dr Saloschini Pillay — University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Prof Ahmed Bawa –  Universities SA CEO (ex officio member)

Priority focus areas for 2020

  • The reconstitution of institutional culture by focusing on the design of the universities around our students and staff with emphasis on residences and 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;
  • Consideration of participating in a future National Higher Education Conference;
  • Review of practices related to people with disabilities in higher education with a view to improving responses;
  • Assessment of the integrity and functional effectiveness of university governing structures with emphasis on the Institutional Forum and student governance;
  • Responding to the global problem of protecting scholars at risk and academic freedom; and
  • Positively influencing higher education sector responses to gender-based violence.