According to The Development Framework for New Universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga Provinces, the new universities should be established as:
- as sites of learning and culture which give expression to democracy and social justice and increase participation in political, social, cultural and economic life;
- as active participants taking centre stage in addressing the challenges confronting society and playing their role in the context of a Developmental State;
- as African universities, part of a broader network and community of African institutions of higher learning with a long tradition of scholarship, rooted in the African experience, contributing to African knowledge production and generating ideas and insights with global relevance;
- as 21st century social institutions that must develop innovative modalities of governance, funding, teaching and learning, research and civic engagement in order to respond to ever-changing social, cultural, political, environmental and economic demands; and
- as relevant leaders of the knowledge economy, actively engaging communities to produce knowledge for social development and delivering innovation-driven research for commercial and economic advancement.
The immediate priorities for institutional establishment are the establishment of the Interim Councils and the development of institutional guidelines.
The appointment of an Interim Council for each of the new universities is a key milestone in the establishment of the universities as required by the Higher Education Act 1997 (Act 101 of 1997). The Act provides for the appointment of at least five Interim Council members for a period of six months, this may be extended for a period not exceeding a further six months. In December 2012, the Minister for Higher Education and Training, the Honourable Blade Nzimande, invited the public to nominate members for the Interim Councils for each of the new universities. The closing date for submission of nominations was on the 15th of January 2013. A total number of 28 nominations was received. All of the nominees have confirmed their interest and availability to serve on the Interim Councils. The nominations have been documented and will be submitted to the Minister for a final decision on the establishment of the Interim Councils.
The process of establishing the executive and academic capacity of the universities will commence once the Interim Councils have been established. It is envisaged that the DHET will continue providing support during the early stages of institutional growth.
It has been necessary to develop a set of institutional guidelines to support the Interim Councils in their early growth phase. For this reason, an experienced group of experts was appointed to develop a set of governance and management guidelines. These guidelines are crucial as they will serve as a framework for the new universities for developing their systems and practices in the areas of institutional governance, academic administration, student governance, academic programmes, human resources, information and communication technology, finance, library and information sciences and facilities management.