The Department of Higher Education and Training says that it will begin planning on the formation of two new universities for South Africa this year.
Writing in his department’s annual performance plan for 2021/2022, Higher Education minister Blade Nzimande said that the first university will be constructed in Johannesburg’s East Rand in the City of Ekurhuleni.
Nzimande said that this university will focus specifically on science and innovation subjects. The minister has previously said that subjects taught at the university will likely include:
- Data Science;
- Artificial intelligence;
- Hydrogen-powered technologies including smart transportation and logistics systems.
The second university will be built in Hammanskraal in northern Gauteng, with the institution set to focus on crime detection. It is hoped that the new university will improve the quality of general and specialised South African Police Service investigations.
“The department will in the coming year be conducting a comprehensive feasibility study to determine the nature and scope, as well as location of the new institutions,” Nzimande said.
“This will kick start the process for the establishment of the new universities over the planning period.”
The department is aiming to present the feasibility plan on the Ekurhuleni university for ministerial approval by 31 March 2022. A formal plan for the establishment of the new institution is expected to be implemented within the 2023/2024 financial year.
While the plans for the new universities are yet to be finalised, the department has recognised that the expansion of South Africa’s university system will need to be made in line with a highly stressed fiscus.
“The expansion of the public university system requires a careful and systematic enrolment planning process that is in line with available resources, capacity and funding,” it said.
Nzimande said that a core focus of his department for the next decade is ensuring appropriate skills development for South Africans.
“The recently introduced economic reconstruction and recovery plan stresses skills development, science and innovation as not only critical in driving South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery but also key in sustaining it,” he said.
“In support of this initiative, the department will develop a Skills Strategy to support government’s efforts to mitigate the impact of Covid and the initiatives towards economic and social recovery.”
Nzimande said that the strategy aims to create a balance between the short- and long-term skills needs of the country and ensure that the skills system is ‘strengthened’.