25 March 2015
Sol Plaatje University in Kimberley is on track for its student intake in 2016.
The deputy minister of higher education and training, Mduduzi Manana, visited the construction site in the Northern Cape capital on 24 March, where four cranes were keeping the building programme on track. Manana said he was satisfied with progress made on infrastructure.
“The briefing I received this morning and the visit to the construction site gives me tremendous confidence that all the deadlines for ensuring the successful delivery of the infrastructure necessary to accommodate the 2016 student intake will be met,” he said.
“I have witnessed the evidence of the close co-operation between the different spheres of government. The Sol Plaatje Municipality has been single-minded in its determination to support the development of the university by expediting the required approval processes and supporting the social and economic development aspects of the project, among others.”
Work undertaken to deliver the infrastructure for this year’s student intake of 370 had been of a high quality.
The university’s central campus is part of this phase of construction. It will encompass completing six of the envisaged eight multi-storey buildings at an estimated construction cost of over R900-million. The buildings will include laboratories, lecture auditoriums and teaching facilities, academic offices, libraries, residences and student facilities.
In total, the construction of more than 50 000 square metres of new buildings will accommodate the planned 2016 and 2017 student numbers. Together with the existing 2014 and 2015 provision, on campus residences will accommodate about 700 students for the 2016 academic year.
Manana acknowledged the efforts being made to ensure that the province benefited from the investment in the university infrastructure. Construction procurement requires the main contractors to use local labour, suppliers and sub-contractors; and to focus on broad-based black economic empowerment and skills development.
The deputy minister was also pleased with the academic performance of the university in its first year of its existence. He emphasised that in addition to high quality academic teaching and sound governance, it was necessary to have in place the infrastructure to sustain the level of academic performance.
Of the students registered in 2014, 80% passed all their first-year courses with an average course pass rate of 87%.
Manana also congratulated Professor Yunus Ballim on his appointment as the vice- chancellor. “I wish you well in laying the foundations for a university that will provide innovative and high quality academic programmes.”
Sol Plaatje University is one of three universities the government is building. The others are the University of Mpumalanga and the Sefako Makgatho Health and Allied Sciences University, which is a result of the unbundling of Medunsa from the University of Limpopo.
Higher Education and Training spokesperson Sibusiso Mlangeni said the new universities would go a long way towards increasing access to post-school education and training. They will also contribute to the National Development Plan goal of increasing higher education enrolments by 2030.