For The People

Interview with Prof Yunus Ballim

What are your goals as VC and Principal of SA’s newest university?

Our intentions in these early years of the growing SPU has been to develop and consolidate a good foundation in the three essential areas to sustain a university in the long-term:

– Academic activities – qualifications to be offered; research; learning and teaching; academic staff.

– Institutional capacity – governance structures; administrative support arrangements in aspects like finance, HR and student administration, management and control systems.

– Infrastructure – properly constructed buildings with sufficient space to accommodate the staff and student growth plans

In doing this, we have also focused our attention on developing our partnerships with social and government institutions in the city and the province.

Several SPU buildings have won design awards. What is it like to work in such an environment for students and staff?
We have worked hard to ensure structures and buildings that are conducive to working and learning and this seems to have been successful to date. Our idea of using our infrastructure development project to also reflect the future ambitions of the city of Kimberley has been well reflected in the architecture and artwork on our buildings, giving a strong sense of place in Kimberley and the Northern Cape. It is exciting to be in these buildings and therefore important that we sustain our commitment to proper maintenance and repair of our infrastructure.

How is SPU approaching the funding issues that have arisen in recent years?

We have worked hard to promote sensitive and supportive discussions with our students, while holding firm to the idea that the university must be financially sustainable into the future. We are careful not to allocate financial resources in the short-term in a manner that compromises the learning opportunities of future students who have yet to register at SPU. The new State funding arrangements through NSFAS has significantly helped in allowing us to provide access to good quality higher education to students from financially stressed homes. For their part, our students have generally risen to the challenge and are doing well academically. This makes it much easier for us to raise further funding for other government entities and from the private business sectors.

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