Walter Sisulu University (WSU) was established on 1 July, 2005 in terms of the Higher Education Act No. 101 of 1997, as amended.
The new university was named in honour of an icon of the South African liberation struggle, the late Walter Max Ulyate Sisulu who was a close comrade of Nelson Mandela.
From 2002 to 2005, the South African higher education landscape underwent an extensive merger and incorporation process to bring about a more equitable dispensation to meet the requirements of a fast-developing, new democratic nation.
The existing thirty-six universities and “technikons” were merged in various ways to produce twenty-three universities in three categories:
- Traditional academic universities
- Comprehensive universities (which offer both academic and technological qualifications)
- Universities of technology.
As one of six comprehensive universities in South Africa, WSU has positioned itself as a developmental university focusing on urban renewal and rural development.
It may be characterised as scientific, technological, innovative and responsive to local community needs, the requirements of commerce and industry and the socio-economic niche areas of national government.
WSU is uniquely positioned to play a powerful role in the national government’s new focus on rural development in particular.
Over 30,000 students and about 1,800 live and work across four campuses with 13 delivery sites in Mthatha, Butterworth, Buffalo City (East London) and Queenstown.
Walter Sisulu University (WSU) will be a leading African comprehensive university focusing on innovative educational, research and community partnership programmes that are responsive to local, regional, national development priorities, and cognisant of continental and international imperatives.
In pursuit of its vision as a developmental university, WSU will:
- Provide an educationally vibrant and enabling environment that is conducive to the advancement of quality academic, moral, cultural and technological learner-centred education for holistic intellectual empowerment, growth and effective use of information;
- Provide and maintain the highest possible standards in innovative learning and teaching, applied, basic and community-based research and community partnerships in cooperation with development agencies, the public and private sectors;
- Provide affordable, appropriate, career-focused and professional programmes that address rural development and urban renewal with primary emphasis on science, technology and development studies;
- Create a new generation of highly-skilled graduates capable of understanding and addressing complex societal challenges, with critical scholarly and entrepreneurial attributes grounded on morally sound work ethics and responsible leadership.
WSU’s core values
- Academic freedom
- Access and success
- People development
- Caring university
- Resource consciousness.
- To review and design relevant undergraduate and strategic postgraduate academic programmes that will equip students with life and work skills, are responsive to the needs of the community and will promote entrepreneurship
- To promote learner-centred teaching, active enquiry and critical thinking
- To promote excellence in undergraduate and postgraduate studies
- To create an enabling environment that empowers staff and students to conduct research
- To initiate and support developmental initiatives in the region through community partnerships
- To establish linkages with institutions of higher learning and other relevant institutions, locally, nationally and internationally
- To promote a culture of quality and integrity throughout the institution
- To attract and retain high quality academic and support services staff
- To promote holistic student development and welfare
- To improve WSU’s financial viability and sustainability
- To provide and maintain appropriate and adequate infrastructure
- To develop, adapt and apply appropriate technology
- To create and sustain efficient and effective management and governance of WSU.
University’s focus areas
WSU embraces the following characteristics:
- By its location and its character as a comprehensive university, WSU is strategically located to respond to local and national development needs.
- A diverse range of academic programmes
- student mobility through vertical and horizontal articulation
- work-related qualifications from certificates through to full degrees and post-graduate studies
- service to community, business and industry
- innovative, problem-solving research
- life-long learning opportunities
- flexibility by strengthening relationships with community, civic, government, business and industry partners for local and regional development.
WSU’s core business
The University’s core business is teaching, research and community engagement.
Its four campuses in Butterworth, Buffalo City, Mthatha and Queenstown over 175 qualifications with the following priority programme focus areas:
- Science, engineering and technology
- Communication, business and management
- Accounting and management sciences
- Health sciences
- Natural sciences
- Humanities, social sciences and law.
Spanning over 1,000 km in the province of the Eastern Cape, WSU is ideally positioned to deliver a wide range of educational and development opportunities.
WSU will maintain the traditional role of a University as a centre of higher learning, where theoretical and other intellectual pursuits are combined to serve a larger and more specific role it has defined as that of a Developmental University, ascribing to itself the imperative of making a significant contribution to regional, national and continental development.
WSU’s vision and mission are informed by the National and Provincial Growth and Development strategies including:
- positioning itself as a major regional resource centre of excellence in rural development and urban renewal;
- providing access to knowledge for a diversity of learners and actors from mainly rural, poor and disadvantaged communities and
- ensuring its relevance to local, provincial and national development through innovative curricula and learning processes, applied research and effective community partnerships.
As a public institution of higher education, WSU is governed by the Constitution, the Public Finance Management Act, the Higher Education Act, Promotion of Access to Information Act, Labour Relations Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act and other requisite acts.
Governance of the University is also guided by the governance principles contained in King III Report and the Walter Sisulu University Statute.
Apart from its vibrant academic core business, WSU has a number of directorates and centres which drive various strategic directions:
- Directorate of Research
- Directorate of Postgraduate Studies
- Centre for Rural Development
- Centre for Community and International Partnerships
- Centre for Learning & Teaching Development.
Convocation exists in terms of the University Statute which outlines the critical role of Convocation as inter alia, being that of assisting the University and the WSU Foundation in fundraising.
The secretary to Convocation is the Registrar.
Convocation Chapter Committees have been established in Mthatha, East London and Port Elizabeth as well as in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town.
Walter Sisulu University has over 150 partnerships with other universities, institutes, organizations and departments in the public and private sectors, locally, nationally and internationally:
- Mendel University, Czech Republic
- University of Maryland Eastern Shore, USA
- Howard University, Washington, USA
- Texas Southern University, USA
- Newcastle University, Australia
- IMC Krems University, Austria
- University of Bristol, UK
- Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
- German Development Service (DED)
- Niagara College, Ontario, Canada
- Busitema University, Uganda
- Makerere University, Uganda.