Towards A Decade of Renewal
Drafted as per statutory requirements as defined in R 464 of the Higher Education Act (101/1997): Regulations for Reporting of Public Higher Education Institutions, Government Gazette 37726 of 9 June 2014
Foreword by the Chairperson of Council Bishop Ivan Abrahams
The University of Fort Hare since its foundation has been a beacon of excellence and hope, a lodestar for national and continental regeneration. For that reason, its new Strategic Plan, Towards a Decade of Renewal, 2022-2026 is so critically important in steering the future of this iconic institution.
Renewal means reinvigorating the institution, and walking alongside each other as Council, management academics, professional and support staff and students on this carefully crafted path to realise the new vision and give expression to our institutional values.
Truly honouring this set of values is perhaps the most important way in which to secure the success of the regeneration and renewal process.
On November 25, the University Council approved the final Strategic Plan, following a wide-ranging consultation process, including Faculties, Departments, the Student Representative Council, Senate, the Management Executive Committee, Extended Management Team, Institutional Forum, Council and Alumni. It encapsulates our hopes and aspirations, through a set of institutional goals to which we are now committed.
In five years’ time, we will be looking back on the significant terrain covered, on the remarkable progress achieved – but until then there remains the painstaking task of implementing our Plan. In that, Council pledges its support to management and the University, and will be diligently performing its crucial oversight function.
The University of Fort Hare symbolises so much for us; overseeing the renewal of this iconic institution is an honour and a privilege.
Introduction by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal
This new Strategic Plan is a blueprint for the building and reconstruction work that will be undertaken over the next five years. This will see the University of Fort Hare, founded in 1916 and 106 years old, re-established in its rightful place as one of the foremost institutions of higher learning in South Africa and the continent. Calling this Strategic Plan ‘Towards a Decade of Renewal’ signals that we are not content to bask in the glory of the institution’s proud origins and tradition of trailblazing scholarship and leadership. Instead, we are committing to putting in the significant work required to strengthen the foundations and reimagine the institution where required. The renewal project will see the University flourishing by the end of the decade. We will be offering new niche programmes and cutting-edge curricula, conducting high quality, high impact research, supporting innovation, embracing innovative pedagogies, utilising hybrid modes of delivery and providing a supportive learning and quality living environment for our students.
This requires in the first place embracing an ethos of high expectations of ourselves and our students, and of grit and steadfastness in the pursuance of our objectives, underpinned by our institutional values. Renewal is multi-faceted, and is all about the culture of the institution. It requires in the first place an institutional culture underpinned by ethical leadership and practice, regard for the autonomy of the University, respect for the critically important place of research, scholarship and teaching, and a focus on students and enhancing the student experience.
Renewal therefore also means overhauling our organisational design to support our core mission. We need to do so in a manner that ensures that our academic staff feel supported and valued in order to perform at the highest level. Likewise, we will have to make sure that our support staff are motivated and capacitated to provide a high quality, people-centred service to staff and students. We will be putting in place or updating a suite of policies and procedures in each Division of the University to strengthen the core of the institution and reduce risk. Finally, we are resolutely committed to digitisation and providing a strong ICT infrastructure for all our functions.
Financial sustainability is at the core of the renewal project, with integrated planning in relation to the programmes we offer and the optimisation of our campuses, firm management of our entities, a focus on third-stream income generation and a culture of financial prudence in all areas of the University.
The renewal project is also outward-looking – we will strive to increase the visibility and effectiveness of the University in its regional, national and international engagements.
I have been engaging with Divisions and Departments over the last year and will be continuing doing so. On these rounds, I have been encouraged by the commitment and loyalty of staff to the institution. Renewal is therefore a collective endeavour, in which we counter fragmentation and anomie and unlock energy in a planned, systematic and measurable way towards the realisation of a shared vision. For this reason, the Plan has been developed in a highly consultative manner, reflecting the aspirations and concerns of the broader University community.
I want to thank Professor Graeme Bradley and the team at the Planning and Quality Assurance Unit for their work on the Plan.
To drive the implementation of the Plan at management level, the Management Executive Committee now comprises seven members, with a new Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Partnerships and Innovation portfolio established. In addition, the Dean: Students Affairs portfolio is now a member portfolio of the MEC, to ensure that student matters are dealt with at the highest level. Together with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Institutional Support and Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning portfolios, the Registrar, and the Chief Financial Officer, the composition of the management team is fit-for-purpose.
Over the 5-year period of the previous Strategic Plan, 2017-2021, Senate stood firm and acted as the backbone of the institution. Over the next five years, the role of Senate therefore will be critical in steering and guiding the academic and research enterprise and giving expression to our institutional values.
I want to express my appreciation to the Chairperson of Council, Bishop Ivan Abrahams, and all Council members for their strategic acumen and commitment to the University of Fort Hare.
This is indeed our Decade of Renewal.
Towards a Decade of Renewal
With the appointment of a new Council, together with a new top management team, the University community has wholeheartedly embraced the concept of Renewal, as all Fort Harians want to be part of a university that can take its place proudly within the academic fraternity in South Africa and Internationally. Therefore, the university adopted the theme of renewal in the strategic plan by incorporating the principles of transformation, equity, and the socio-economic contextualisation of the plan.
The University of Fort Hare wishes to become a university that has incorporated digitalisation and automation into all its business, academic and research processes, student administration processes, financial and HR systems. A relevant regulatory framework with applicable policies and procedures to ensure quality, good governance, and effective management is foreseen in all endeavours.
The intention is to further enhance the student experience by providing modernised infrastructure and embracing new technologies suitable for quality teaching and research. Through curriculum renewal, it will offer quality and innovative, unique, socially and contextually relevant programmes that integrate new technology. Therefore, producing graduates with attributes relevant to the needs of societies and future workplaces that are shifting toward the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The University of Fort Hare also aims to impact society by developing Niche Research areas that address the National Development Plan and national or regional priorities in collaboration with strategic partners.
The above will only be possible by ensuring the long term financial sustainability of the University and its entities through the development and application of sound financial management and compliance practices.
To be a distinctive African university, advancing excellence and innovation in research, teaching, learning, administration, and social engagement.
To provide quality education and conduct innovative research focusing on niche areas that contribute to the advancement of knowledge that is socially and contextually relevant, with an overall emphasis on the application of digital technologies.