WITS CDP to help new universities

TWO new universities in Nelspruit and Kimberley, which will open their doors next year, will get a helping hand from Wits University in planning their infrastructures and academic programmes.

The department of higher education and training (DHET) has approached Wits Campus Development and Planning (CDP) to help with project management for the University of Mpumalanga and the Sol Plaatje University in the Northern Cape.

“We will be developing capacity and project managing the infrastructure and the academic programmes to empower the new universities until they can take over the programme,” said Emannuel Prinsloo, director of CDP.

“It’s a fascinating challenge. There is no book on the shelf  called ‘How to build universities for dummies’.

The Wits CDP will put together a team of specialists to implement the academic programmes and to develop the institutional capacity needed. Prinsloo said the DHET approached Wits CDP because they were happy with their progress and delivery of their projects.

[pullquote align=”right”]“They need time to settle, to find their niche.” [/pullquote]

Wits CDP would not physically manage the construction of the two new universities, as the CDP still had its own work to complete at Wits, said Prinsloo. The two universities would not be funded or cross-subsidised by Wits or other universities.

Architectural design competitions for the buildings have been launched. Designs would be judged on the amount of green building implementation.

“It’s about orientating the building for its affordability and sustainability.”

He said the University of Mpumalanga would be built on a “greenfield site”, which meant there were no existing buildings

 on the site.

New buildings would be constructed for the Sol Plaatje University in Kimberley. Urban renewal would also take place, which meant old and derelict buildings would be renovated.

The new universities would have more residences than was currently the norm at universities. While plans for the construction of the new universities are in full swing, the universities will need a little longer to reach the level of established universities.

Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof Andrew Crouch said it would take some time for the two universities to reach the same level of excellence of older, established universities, unless they had unlimited resources. Crouch said it normally took fi ve to 10 years for a university to become properly established, both in infrastructure and academics.

“Any new university is like a child that grows up, it’s not an adult overnight,” said Crouch. “They need time to settle, to find

their niche.”


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