Bold Vision: UFH’s New “Decade of Renewal” Five-year Master Plan to serve at Institutional Committees and Council for approval

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For immediate release
27 September 2021

Alice, 27 September 2021 -- The University of Fort Hare today announced that consultation processes for its five-year consolidated strategy, “Towards a Decade of Renewal”, has been concluded. The plan will now serve at all the relevant institutional committees before serving at Council on the 25th November 2021 for final approval.

At the Vice-Chancellor's request, the Extended Management Team established a strategic plan steering committee, exactly a year ago, with the mandate of facilitating the development of a strategic plan and vision for the University, informed by the ideas of consulted constituent groups.

Extensive consultation meetings with all internal stakeholders, including Faculties, divisions, departments, units, the institutional Student Representative Council (SRC), Council and alumni, took place earlier this year and culminated in the development of a five-year strategic plan that will come into effect on 1st January 2022, pending Council approval.

“The new strategic plan was not developed in isolation or through a top-down approach.  In fact, it was a democratic effort that solicited major and meaningful input from all relevant stakeholders.  This process enabled us to neatly distil and encapsulate the ideas and dreams, concerns and fears, hopes and aspirations of stakeholders to design a compelling future plan for this University,” said Professor Sakhela Buhlungu, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Fort Hare.

Professor Buhlungu said a common theme that emerged through stakeholder consultations was that the University of Fort Hare had to be rebuilt, reimagined and renewed.  

“Stakeholders want to see the University of Fort Hare ascend to the position it once held, as a thought leader and driver of change, transformation and development for the betterment of society.  The history and heritage that once defined this institution need to be reclaimed and reinstated over the next decade,” said Professor Buhlungu.

“Our mandate will be to ensure that the institution reclaims its place as a leading African university, with a continental, national and provincial focus, geared towards addressing contemporary challenges.  Importantly, there is the hope that the University will become a key player in providing students with graduate attributes relevant to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  It must continue to produce leaders who impact history's trajectory.  This was the role that the University of Fort Hare played in the past; this is the role it must continue to play now and in future,” said the Vice-Chancellor.

Professor Buhlungu said that for the University of Fort Hare to achieve this vision, it would embark on a journey of renewal.  Working towards the desired future state, the primary vision of the University of Fort Hare’s “Towards a Decade of Renewal” strategic plan revolves around the following:

  1. embracing digitalisation and automation of all University systems, including student administration, learning and teaching, finance, HR, ICT and governance;
  2. providing access to a dignified and improved student life experience with emphasis on the provision of new learning and teaching, research and accommodation infrastructure;
  3. ensuring that talent graduating from the University of Fort Hare is highly attractive to the South African, international and Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) job markets - this will be achieved through recurriculating and evolving existing programmes and degrees and designing new, high-quality and innovative programmes to respond to the skills needs of the future;
  4. positioning the University of Fort Hare as a driver of change, transformation and development for the betterment of society through an impactful research agenda with niche focus areas supporting and responding to the National Development Plan (NDP) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  5. strengthening governance systems with sound financial management and compliance practices to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the University; and
  6. creating a compelling new brand identity that reflects the revitalised and engaged University of Fort Hare.

Professor Graeme Bradley, chair of the University of Fort Hare’s strategic plan steering committee, said that the University of  Fort Hare is embracing the concept of renewal as the main theme of the five-year institutional strategic plan. “All Fort Harians want to be part of a University that can take its place proudly within the academic community in South Africa and internationally,” he said.

Professor Bradley said the new Council provided key inputs into the University of Fort Hare’s new strategic plan.  In particular, the Council wants to see the development of strong external partnerships; a focus on the employability of our graduates; a responsive university addressing problems in the Eastern Cape and nationally, as well as advancing innovation in Africa; and finally, the development of a robust monitoring framework with high-level indicators for Council, to strengthen its oversight function.

“From our students, there is a collective vision for the University’s management to undertake urban and campus renewal; provide modern and maintained infrastructure that will enhance the student campus life experience; ensure universal access that takes into account the needs of all students and staff, and improve campus security.  Our students also want to see their university’s brand promoted and protected,” said Professor Bradley.

Professor Bradley said that the alumni chapters emphasised the importance of preserving the University’s legacy of training African leaders and ensuring that the institution is positioned as the University of first-choice for prospective students.

The Extended Management Team and academic staff would like to see digitalisation and automation of all university systems; enhancement of the quality and impact of the UFH academic enterprise; development of student attributes that are relevant to external stakeholders; the promotion of equity and transformation and the creation of a safe and secure environment to support the fight against GBV.

Professor Buhlungu said that once Council approved the new five-year consolidated strategy, the Annual Performance Plan (APP) would be developed to operationalise the strategic plan.

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Issued on behalf of the University of Fort Hare by Meropa Communications
Further information:
JP Roodt / Jenay Petrus