At the end of a two-day intensive Council strategic planning workshop that took place from 05 – 06 September 2023, the SMU Council engaged robustly on the proposed strategic priorities of the University. The session was attended by both the Council members and members of the University Management team led by the Vice-Chancellor. The new Strategic Plan for 2024 to 2028 will be grounded on the centrality of the academic project and excellence in its operations and services to staﬀ and students. The University Council reaﬃrmed its commitment to ensuring that the University continues to pay suﬃcient attention to the quality of the graduates it produces, who will be able to serve the greater good of our nation and the world. Therefore, the environment within which these students are molded, including their student experience, should be prioritized in the new strategic plan.
In light of several new developments in the academe, changes in policies at institutional and national level, and the need to align with best practices both nationally and globally, there was a need to review the 2021 – 2025 Strategic Plan for relevance and impact, which has led to the development of the new Strategic Plan 2024 – 2028.
It is important to note that health sciences degrees are expensive to oﬀer. The Council has, therefore, resolved to introduce appropriate measures to secure the ﬁnancial viability of the university in the medium to long term. In his introduction of the 2024 – 2028 strategic plan, the Vice Chancellor, Prof Peter Mbati, presented the following factors which are relevant in the crafting of the strategy:
• Financial sustainability for SMU as a priority in securing the future of the academic project.
• The provision of quality services and products.
• Improved levels of staﬀ eﬃciency.
• A digitization strategy for the university.
• Professionalization of the workforce.
• Building a strong SMU brand.
• Production of globally competitive graduates.
• Well deﬁned collaboration between SMU, Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital, the SMU Dental Hospital, the National Health Laboratory Services and the Gauteng Department of Health.
Some of the key institutional initiatives discussed during the planning session included the following:
• The establishment of a Centre for Pandemics.
• The proposal for the re-establishment of a School of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Health.
• Report on the commercialization of SMU land, and;
• The New Business Model, aimed at ensuring SMUs sustainability.
In her concluding remarks at the end of the two-day workshop, the Chairperson of Council Ms. Maria Rambauli reﬂected on the long and sometimes arduous journey in stabilizing leadership and governance at SMU. She reminded delegates that while there were a lot of achievements that the University could be proud of, the journey ahead still required dedication and focus, and that the well-crafted 2024 – 2028 strategic plan would be the road map to guide us. It is anticipated that the Council will approve the strategy at its next sitting. Thereafter, a process to create and deepen awareness around the strategic priorities of the University amongst stakeholders will be prioritized.