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SMU Council crafts levers to grow a world class Health Sciences University

In a departure from the routine Council workshops, the SMU Council spent considerable time and energy in a strategy reflection workshop from 14 – 15 September 2022 re-imagining a new operating model that
would catapult SMU into the league of World Class Universities, becoming globally competitive and simultaneously remaining locally relevant. The Chairperson of Council Ms. Maria Rambauli emphasized urgency in a shift towards SMU becoming a sustainable self-funded institution, with the academic enterprise at the centre of its operations.

In this context, the university needs to ensure that it attracts excellent academics, professionals, administrative staff and students. It is envisaged that this will ensure that SMU is academically and administratively competitive and becomes the “go to” institution in the HE sector, locally and abroad. The need for collaboration with industry and other institutions of higher learning, and the utilization of alumni for resource mobilization, coupled with an emphasis on impact of SMU initiatives was emphasized. Ms. Thaaniya Isaacs of PwC made a compelling case for the adoption of technology to increase teaching and learning efficiencies in a Health Sciences University. Her presentation was premised on the 2022 PwC survey conducted amongst Vice Chancellors and Deputy Vice Chancellors of the 26 South African public universities.

On transforming SMU into a World Class University, the Vice Chancellor Prof Peter Mbati stated that there has to be a deliberate intent and purpose from within an institution to grow into a world class university while change management towards achieving this goal is key to successful transformation. According to Mbati, the establishment of a World Class university requires, above all, strong leadership, a bold vision of the institution, and clarity of its mission and goals. In this regard, SMU must craft a clearly articulated strategic plan to translate this vision into concrete targets and programmes. Prof. Patrick Demana (former Acting DVC Academic and Research) made a compelling case in his presentation on “Reimagining a World Class Academy at SMU”. This possibility is real, with the need for SMU to expand its PQM, consideration for a hybrid programme delivery model, the need for state-of-the-art infrastructure, striving for teaching excellence, improved rankings and the strengthening of community engagement. On the backdrop of the presentation by the Acting Dean of the School of Oral Health Sciences Prof. Dini Mawela, Council was convinced of the need for strong, principled, cohesive and caring leadership.

In his presentation, the CFO Mr. Eminos Manyawi focused on the new business model as central in achieving financial sustainability. Among others, the model seeks to be increase programme offerings and double student numbers over time, increase infrastructure capacity on campus, improve its third-stream income by amongst others commercialization of SMU land. SMU will consider changes with regard to, amongst others, enrolment targets and its pricing model. The Registrar Dr. Jeffrey Mabelebele led a discussion on the current SMU SWOT analysis while the Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Mfanfikile Sibanyoni presented the status of infrastructure development on campus, and future possibilities.

VCs Desk - SMU Council crafts levers to grow a world class Health Sciences University

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