Official academic opening focuses on empowering excellence in 2024 and beyond

The overarching message from the principal and vice-chancellor of the North-West University (NWU), Prof Bismark Tyobeka, was one of optimism, gratitude and determination during the official opening of the 2024 academic year on Friday, 23 February.

The official ceremony took place at the Potchefstroom Campus, with a live broadcast to the Mahikeng and Vanderbijlpark campuses.

Prof Tyobeka expressed a profound sense of pride in the university's accomplishments, emphasising its esteemed status as a preferred institution in South Africa. He particularly underscored the remarkable success of the registration period for the 2024 academic year, surpassing enrolment targets.

“We are glad that many of our FTEN students (students who have enrolled at a higher-education institution for the first time) who have been accepted into our programmes are the cream of the crop. For the 2024 academic year, we have an average admissions points score of about 31,5 for accepted students and 25,8 for unsuccessful students due to capacity. This is a clear indication that we are improving the quality of students we are attracting. Thank you to all members of staff who form part of the value chain throughout the application to the final registration process,” he said.

Financial assistance for students is acknowledged as a challenge, with efforts to assist deserving students and engage with relevant stakeholders.

“We are doing our best to assist academically deserving students with bursaries. We also continue to facilitate engagements with NSFAS and other relevant stakeholders to assist our students. Regrettably, we do not have a say regarding the NSFAS processes and systems, which makes it difficult for us,” added Prof Tyobeka.

He attributed the stability during the registration period at the NWU - amid national unrest - to theproactive engagements between management and student leaders, as well as the maturity of our student structures across our campuses. “We must continue on this trajectory of resolving issues maturely and responsibly.”

Research and innovation, teaching and learning, and community engagement were highlighted as crucial pillars, with a focus on capacity building and collaboration. Internationalisation efforts were underscored, along with community engagement initiatives aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

“I was thrilled to learn that in 2023 we registered 500 community engagement projects through the NWU's Community Engagement Programme. While our final report will be released at the end of this month, our ongoing impact measurement initiatives have already provided us with valuable data from 118 projects,” said Prof Tyobeka. He added the university will continue to focus on strengthening its relationships with external community partners.

The university's global rankings were acknowledged, with a call for continued improvement. “The good work that our staff, students, and alumni are doing is reflected in many ways, including acknowledgment by ranking agencies. We continue to feature in the top 4,4% of

global rankings. These include the Academic Ranking of World Universities or ShanghaiRanking (501-600), Times Higher Education (601-800), QS World University Rankings (801-850), and the Centre for World University Rankings (number 7).

“We thank you for your contributions that resulted in these rankings. A lot remains to be done, and therefore we must work even harder and smarter to improve our position.”

Prof Tyobeka emphasised the importance of maintaining dedication to positioning the university as a leader in education, alongside prioritising the well-being of both staff and students. He underscored the significance of aligning actions with the university's strategy, advocating for the support of quality education, and fostering open communication channels as critical elements for success in the upcoming academic year.

Prof Robert Balfour, deputy vice-chancellor for teaching and learning, focused on the enhancing of teaching and learning and research and innovation in 2024. He highlighted the importance of quality and alignment in teaching and learning initiatives, and mentioned ongoing efforts to improve student success, with a focus on student-centricity and aligning programme offerings across campuses.

In addition, he mentioned the implementation of a new student information system to streamline administrative processes and improve staff functionality. “During the course of the year, faculties will be consulted on roles and responsibilities in the new system, and those affected will undergo training to ensure a smooth roll-out at the beginning of 2025.”

Prof Balfour outlined several key projects aimed at enhancing the curriculum. These included the identification of a new learning management system, the Phasing Quality Management project, and the Micro-credentials in South Africa project, all aimed at improving student experience and positioning the university in the sector and market.

In addition, he highlighted the university's research and innovation activities, including efforts to improve research output, support postgraduate students and foster collaboration with industry partners.

Read Prof Balfour’s detailed speech here



Eagi, the NWU mascot, is also attending the official academic opening on the Mahikeng Campus.


Staff from the Potchefstroom Campus listening intently during the official academic opening.


Attending the official academic opening on the Vanderbijlpark Campus, staff members are watching the live stream of the academic procession.


Prof Bismark Tyobeka, principal and vice-chancellor of the NWU.


Prof Robert Balfour, deputy vice-chancellor for teaching and learning at the NWU.

Submitted on Wed, 02/28/2024 - 11:22