Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU)

'Knowledge for Quality Health Services'
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Appointment of Professor Chris de Beer as Interim Vice-Chancellor

The Council of the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Chris de Beer as Interim Vice-Chancellor with effect from the 1st of July 2015. Prof de Beer's term of office will be one year.

Professor de Beer, who matriculated from the Lichtenburg High School, among others, holds a doctoral degree in law from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. He has also been admitted as an advocate of the High Court of South Africa and is a member of the SA Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns and of ASSAf.

After completion of his formal tertiary education, he accepted a full-time appointment as lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the then Potchefstroom University, where he was subsequently promoted to Professor. During this time Prof de Beer published a number of articles in peer reviewed and accredited journals and contributed to legal publications and research reports on negotiable instruments, the legal position of slaves and access to early legal jurisprudence at the Cape.

Since becoming involved in tertiary education, Prof de Beer has held numerous senior management positions. His most recent position was that of Senior Vice- Principal at the University of Pretoria.

In his management capacities at the University of Pretoria he was involved in the establishment of the national Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Pretoria as the end product of the amalgamation of the Faculties of Veterinary Science of Medunsa and of the University of Pretoria, the incorporation of the Teacher Training College Pretoria into the University of Pretoria, and the incorporation of the Mamelodi Campus of Vista University into the University of Pretoria.

Prof de Beer also led a number of institutional projects and initiatives at the University of Pretoria that were, among others, aimed at the transformation of governance and management structures, rationalisation and repositioning of faculties and support services, and the optimising of student services.

Professor de Beer also held/holds a number of Ministerial appointments.

Prof de Beer's career in tertiary education spans a period of 43 years, 22 of which were in Senior Management.

As a newly established university, the SMU requires leadership with appropriate academic stature, comprehensive knowledge of the core mandate of the institution, management experience in and an understanding of the successful functioning of all sectors of the institution, and an intimate knowledge of the higher education sector and its challenges.

The Council believes that Professor de Beer is well equipped to provide the leadership as Interim Vice-Chancellor required during the important initial phases of the institution.

Judge NM Mavundla


Anti-Xenophobic statement

The Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) Community is appalled at the ongoing attacks on people of foreign origin in various parts of South Africa. In this regard, we would like to add our voice in the ever growing movement to stem out the tide of xenophobic attacks. Any harm to any foreigner, is one too many.

We would like to assure our international students and staff members that their safety is our priority. The SMU Safety and Security department is on high alert to ensure that these barbaric acts do not spill over into our university.

SMU values the contributions of all our international students and staff members. The university hosts hard working students from various African countries, studying to acquire health care skills that they will use in their respective countries, as they continue to be worthy ambassadors of our University. As SMU Community, we appeal for unity and embracing of diversity to eradicate xenophobia.

Issued by Marketing and Communication Department

Contact: Padi Matlala (Acting Deputy Director of Marketing & Communication)

Tel: 012 521 4560 / 4563


The launch of Sefako Makgatho Health Science University (SMU) Media Statement

14 April 2015

Professor Olive Shisana - Chairperson of the Interim Council

On this historic day of the 14th of April 2015, we are gathered here in Garankuwa, Pretoria to open a university that will spread its wings by leaps and bounds from local, to national, regional and international platforms. It is a university that is responding to changes in the health environment with the seismic shift epitomised by the global movement towards universal health coverage, which calls for ending inequalities in access to quality health care. With the advent of the national health insurance in South Africa, the university is poised to produce a health workforce that is equipped with the skills to develop, maintain, evaluate and monitor the new system that will finance and provide quality health care to all South Africans.

This university is being established in an era that calls for the internationalization and competitiveness of higher education. Health workers who can innovate are in demand across the country and the world. Today there is an increasing globalization of health matters and a changing nature of the disease burden where an epidemiological transition is taking place. This new university will respond to this changing environment, one complicated by an incongruence between the students' demand for new ways of learning and educators who may still use traditional approaches to teaching.

In a book titled "Leading the Revolution", which the then Deputy President of South Africa gave me in 2001 at the launch of the MEDUNSA-Stellenbosch University Post-Graduate Diploma on HIV/AIDS, author Gary Hamel says "it is not knowledge that produces new wealth, but insight into opportunities for discontinuous innovation. Discovery is the journey, insight is the destination. " (2000, Page 13). Since you gave me this book at the turn of this century, I have held to the view that it is not a simple accumulation of knowledge that matters, but what we do with it to advance the lives of our people.

Consequently, our hope is that this university will be a fountain that spurts graduates nationally, regionally and internationally with insights into innovative health systems that use new technological approaches and tools to provide quality health services and save lives. As Hamel puts it, these revolutionaries "don't tinker into the margins; they blow up old ... models and create new ones." (P. 16). Sefako Makgatho University graduates will need to create new models that will underpin new health systems through research evidence and innovation. This is our hope for the new university.

Future graduates are advised to take the dictum of Thomas Kuhn, in his now classic book "the Structure of Scientific Revolution" that states "confronted with ... crisis scientists take a different attitude towards existing paradigms, and the nature of their research changes accordingly. The proliferations of competing articulations , ... the expression of discontent, ... and ... debate over fundamentals, all these are symptoms of a transition from normal to extraordinary research." (1970) We believe our students, armed with knowledge, will conduct extraordinary research to find innovative ways to improve the quality of health services and design health systems that serve the public.

What will make this university stand above the rest may very well be adopting a philosophy of moving from good to great, which is so clearly articulated by the author of one of the bestselling research management books, Jim Collins (2001).

Collins argues that the companies that move from good to great are clear what they are passionate about (and understand themselves), what they can be the best in (and for) the world at, and what drives their economic engine - these are the three circles of the Hedgehog Concept. This approach, according to Collins, requires "disciplined people", who engage in "disciplined thought" processes and take "disciplined action" (Jim Collins).

With this philosophy and through the painstaking, creative and meticulous application of new scientific knowledge to old problems of poor health systems and inadequate health service provision, the new university will move "good" MEDUNSA to "great" Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University. We must ask ourselves: Can we achieve this breakthrough and reach greatness in building this new university? I believe we can!

The time is ripe to innovate and make the South African dream of greatness come true, just like Xi Jingping, now the Chinese head of state, advocated when addressing Chinese students studying abroad in 2013. He urged them to integrate their patriotic love and their aspiration to make the country stronger with their actions to serve their country, and to link their dreams with the stunning efforts of their fellow citizens to turn the Chinese Dream into reality ("Governance of China" 2014, page 63). We, the Sefako Makgatho University community and our partners, have an opportunity to rise to the challenge of using our collective aspirations to make this university one of the best in designing and contributing to quality health services for all in this country.

As the national health insurance is built, this university community must be counted among the architects of the collective dream of South Africans to have a well-functioning health system staffed by highly competent health professionals armed with scientific knowledge to invent new treatments, new assistive technology, assess technology, innovate models of quality service design, provision and financing. As Jingpin said to the students, "innovation is the soul of a nation's progress, the inexhaustible force driving a country's prosperity." (page 65). The university will introduce a programme qualification mix that includes biomedical technology, biomedical engineering, clinical technology, health administration and law, information technology, prosthetics and orthotics, health promotion and disease prevention, food safety and national health insurance. This new interdisplinary programme will give students the springboard for innovation in the health sector. The country will come to depend on you, our future graduates, to solve old challenges with new technology and social innovations.

The students at this university together with the work force will prosper in an environment that is fertile with opportunities created by its leaders. The work of Richard Barrett, the value driven architect of successful organizations, is relevant here. We need to groom leaders as well as encourage current ones to demonstrate ...

  • An ability to create enabling environments for themselves and those they lead
  • A desire to build a caring culture that engenders genuine employee, student, supplier and shareholder loyalty
  • A drive to a high performance culture that creates confidence and pride in the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University
  • Accountability and responsibility, and a commitment to encourage personal growth in others
  • A sense of purpose, a mission and the ability to create a vision of a future that is inspiring to others and engenders trust
  • The ability to actualize that vision through collaborative strategic alliances with external partnerships;
  • And finally, the commitment to align the needs of this university with those of the nation, humanity and the planet.

Yes, we are capable of producing these leaders. Certainly not by taking away for ourselves those already doing a sterling job in other universities in South Africa. For, if we did that, we would compromise other universities in our country when skills are scarce. We must create our own leaders who will adhere to our values. We must grow our own timber!

Since the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Nzimande proclaimed in a government gazette in May 2014 that Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University would be born in January 2015, and appointed an interim council, a flurry of activities were initiated to ensure the success of today:

  • An Interim Management was appointed
  • A development framework outlining the kind of institution we would like to see, as well as a Master plan were prepared and submitted separately to the Department of Higher Education and Training
  • A feasibility study was conducted and presented to the Department of Higher Education and Training and later to the National Treasury
  • Funding was made available to establish the university
  • We partnered with Johns Hopkins University to offer courses in public health
  • We designed a course on national health insurance
  • We also outlined a curriculum on Humanities in the health sciences
  • A process for the transfer of the various plots of land under MEDUNSA's control into the name of SMU has begun
  • An interim senate has been established and is up and running
  • An Interim Institutional Forum was established
  • An international advisory committee was established with membership from South Africa, Uganda,Thailand, the United States and Brazil. The first meeting has been held and the committee had some very constructive comments to strengthen the proposed strategic plan. The interim council is optimistic about the positive role this eminent body can play in advancing the great aspirations of the university.
  • Finally, a permanent Council is about to be appointed, with public advertisments made for men and women able to carry forward the university's development.

These efforts have culminated in the registration of a total of 5 144 students this year at SMU. Of these, 4 133 students are registered for undergraduate programmes in the four Schools of Medicine, Health Care Sciences, Pathology and Pre-Clinical Sciences and Oral Health Sciences. The remaining 1 008 are registered as post-graduate students. The university is well on its way to registering 7 000 students in 2019 and at least 10 000 students by 2024.

The challenge will be finding suitably qualified educators to teach the new program qualification mix that will include, for example, training engineers in clinical engineering, training technicians in biotechnology, and training medical doctors in orthotics. This is where creativity is needed. The country does not have persons with doctoral degrees in these interdisciplinary areas, hence we have to grow our own timber. We are requesting the government to make substantial funding available to send more than 20 persons with doctorates to the best institutions in the world to train them so that we can open and initiate these new programs in the qualification mix by next year, in February 2016. Our plans for the next five years are embodied in the draft strategic goals, which will be refined by the new council. These goals are to:

  • Enhance faculty by providing skills and support
  • Achieve excellence in teaching
  • Promote high quality student selection
  • Facilitate student access
  • Invest in student success
  • Advance research and knowledge production
  • Ensure financial sustainability by raising external funding through short courses and research grants as well as endowments
  • Maintain a high level of governance to ensure accountability of financial resources
  • Build physical infrastructure for accommodation, learning and service provision
  • Improve the electrical supply system and install a new telephone system.

We are on the way to meeting some of these goals. We have started construction of the pharmacy building, appointed a service provider to build accommodation for 205 residents We have high expectations of this university. We expect to spend most of our time working towards our collective vision and gathering our collective brains and strengths to make this university the best in producing highly qualified and passionate professionals who are capable of improving the quality of health service provision.

We look with envy when citizens of our country go beyond the call of duty to save lives. In acknowledging his deep appreciation for the American men and women who showed unparalleled courage to stem the tide of Ebola, President Obama said: "Driven by their sense of duty and a commitment to serving a cause greater than themselves, public health professionals rose to the challenge at home and abroad and turned the tide of an epidemic. They demonstrated what is possible when America leads and when we make policy based on sound science and good judgment." We sincerely hope that as we face similar challenges of communicable diseases, such as HIV and TB including drug resistant TB, our students will be in the forefront of using science to curb the spread of these epidemics, thus offering our own President the opportunity to recognise your extraordinary efforts.

With the support of the shareholders-Re-invigorate the government, the Minister of Higher Education and Training, The Minister of Health, the external stakeholders, the staff, students, unions and the communities where training will take place, we are confident that we will achieve the strategic goals set and make Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University a world class institution.

Media statement - 16 May 2014

Statement by the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, on the establishment and naming of the New Health and Allied Sciences University in Gauteng

Government has attained an important milestone on its journey towards establishing a new health and allied sciences university in the Gauteng Province. The development of this new health and allied sciences university is an integral part of the programme of Government to expand access to education and training opportunities for the youth, by increasing the number of young people in education, employment and training. The National Development Plan envisages an increase in participation in higher education from 17.9% in 2012 to 25% by 2030.

On 26 May 2011 I announced my intention to separate the Medunsa Campus from the competency of the University of Limpopo based on the findings and recommendations of the report of a Task Team led by Professor Makgoba and Dr Max Price. The Task Team had been appointed to review the impact of the merger of the Medical University of South Africa (Medunsa) and the University of North, which resulted in the establishment of the University of Limpopo.

When I made this announcement there was a commitment from the Department that we would open the doors for learning of this institution at the beginning of the 2015 academic year. A number of significant milestones have been achieved, which make the announcement of the establishment of this new health and allied sciences university possible today. I am honoured to be able to announce the name of the new university and the Interim Council members.

The following people have been appointed to the Interim Council:
  • Prof Olive Shisana (Chairperson)
  • Prof AM Segone
  • Dr N. Simelela
  • Mr Paul Slack
  • Ms Sizo Mchunu

I wish to congratulate them on their appointment and have assured them of our full support.

After a significant process of consultation, I am pleased to announce that the name of this health and allied sciences university is Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University. The university is named after a highly-acclaimed politician, journalist, educationist and theologian. We are proud to advance his lifelong struggle for a South Africa that is legitimate, non-racial, non.-exploitative, free, independent, democratic, and playing its proper role amongst the nations of the world.

We look forward to launching this new university in due course.

Statement issued by Dr Blade Nzimande

Minister of Higher Education and Training

Significant milestones towards the establishment of a new health allied science university in Gauteng

Firstly and significantly, there was an agreement to establish a new medical institution as a stand-alone, autonomous university offering health care related programmes as its core operation and incorporating the Medunsa campus into the new university.

A Joint Technical Task Team was appointed to advise on transitional arrangements needed to separate Medunsa campus from the University of Limpopo and establish a new university, which will incorporate Medunsa campus.

The Joint Technical Task Team (JTTT) compiled a report advising on processes of unbundling the Medunsa Campus of UL and establishing a new university incorporating the Medunsa. The report proposes, inter alia, a distinctive academic model and Programme Qualification Mix for the new university, situates these in terms of the local, national and international health care and training contexts, examines what infrastructure, facilities, space and clinical training platforms are likely to be required, together with the projected costs thereof, and suggests various transitional arrangements to facilitate the incorporation of the Medunsa campus of the university of Limpopo into the new university.

A legal framework for the separation of the Medunsa Campus from the University of Limpopo and incorporation of the Medunsa Campus of UL into the new university in terms of Section 24 of the Higher Education Act (Act 01 of 1997) was developed.

Consultations in terms of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (Act 3 of 2000) with internal and external stakeholders affected by the unbundling of the University of Limpopo and establishment of the new university into which the Medunsa Campus of UL will be incorporated were held;

An academic model suitable for a comprehensive university offering health and allied sciences programmes in the South African context with adherence to national health needs and international competitive standards was developed. The model is framed by the health care challenges and needs in South Africa, the strategies intended to address them and the range of health science programmes currently available at universities across the country.

A feasibility study of the institutional and resource gaps between the Medunsa Campus’s current infrastructure, facilities, space and clinical training platform and what the new university will require if it is to both realise national development and policy priorities and to be academically and financially viable was conducted. The study showed that although the academic buildings on the Medunsa campus are mostly well built and in a fair condition, a number of infrastructural aspects are likely to require a large scale funding, including refurbishment of existing and the building of the new student residences and other buildings, improved electricity, water and sewerage reticulation, among others.

Projection of cost implications of the proposed infrastructure and other building developments intended to accommodate the planned expansion of programmes and enrolments for the first five year phase, 2014 -2019 was conducted. An initial amount of R210 million has been set aside for infrastructure and efficiency funding for the new Health and Allied Sciences University. The funds will be utilised for efficiency and process of the demerger. In addition an amount of R30 million has been earmarked for the institutional size factor for the unbundling of the Medunsa campus from the University of Limpopo and the establishment of a new university incorporating the Medunsa campus.

A protocol for engagement with respect to the incorporation of the Medunsa Campus of the University of Limpopo into the new comprehensive health and allied sciences university was developed. The protocol provides a framework that will facilitate the incorporation where DHET will be the facilitator and overseer of the incorporation process. The document will form part of transitional arrangements for the new university and will be published as a schedule upon promulgation.

On 28 May 2013 I invited comments from interested persons, higher education institutions and organisations including the Council on Higher Education on my intention to establish a new university incorporating the Medunsa campus. Comments received were considered and are incorporated into the report;

In the Government Gazette No 37007 dated 6 November 2013 I invited nominations for people whom by virtue of their knowledge, competencies and experience can be nominated as members of the Interim Council of the new university as well as proposals for the name of the new health and allied sciences university. The department received 38 nominations for the Interim Council and 11 names proposed for the new university.