Universities South Africa

USAf’s concomitant value proposition for the South African higher education sector in the next decade is to:

  1. Promote a values-driven academic mission with relevance and responsiveness.
  2. Shape and secure the long-term sustainability of the higher education sector.
  3. Strengthen higher education’s capacity to address the challenges of building a just, inclusive democracy through advancing equity, inclusivity, diversity, collectivism, and collaboration.
  4. Build and support effectiveness and efficiency.
  5. Encourage creativity and innovation.
  6. Strengthen sectoral differentiation and articulation. Contribute to shaping an effective post-school education and training sector.
  7. Embrace the new technology moment, good practice, and shared learning.

The Three-Year Implementation Plan 2024-2026 gives effect to the Strategic Framework by spelling out the organisation’s strategic objectives for 2024-2026. These are:

  1. To be responsive to the national context within which universities operate to ensure an effective response to emerging trends for the benefit of universities, the Post-School Education and Training sector and society;
  2. To improve the sustainability of the universities, financially, environmentally and in terms of staffing, among others;
  3. To advance transformative universities;
  4. To advocate for universities through coordinating responses to common priorities and intervening to overcome challenges; and
  5. To build a fit-for-purpose USAf through effective staffing, capacity development, financial sustainability and good governance practices.

The Three-Year Implementation Plan is a strategic direction setter. It enables the USAf Office to translate the objectives laid out above to action, through divisional operational plans outlining specific deliverables within set timelines — starting in 2024.

The Office of Universities South Africa is located within the Hadefields Office Park (at 1267 Pretorius Street) in Pretoria.

Our Office

The organisation is led by a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), who is responsible for the leadership and management of the organisation’s overall operations in accordance with the strategic priorities adopted by the Board of Directors. The position is also responsible and accountable for developing and achieving the strategic plan, safeguarding the USAf reputation, and profiling the organisation within the Higher Education sector and in society; managing the external and internal operations, and providing consistent high-level advice to the Board on operations, policy, and planning.

The CEO is supported by the following business units/entities:

  • The Directorate: Operations and Sector Support
  • The Directorate: Finance and Administration
  • The Corporate Communications division, which is the custodian of the USAf brand. The division is responsible for the USAf communication strategy and the execution thereof. It monitors stakeholder perceptions of the USAf brand and the effectiveness of the organisation’s communication enterprise. Corporate Communications also supports line management in employee engagement; it facilitates media engagement and maintains USAf’s communication platforms.
  • A Senior Manager in the Office of the CEO doubles as the Secretary of the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee and USAf’s Legal Advisory Committee.

The Directorate Operations and Sector Support:

The Directorate Finance and Administration is responsible for:

  • Financial, Administrative, Human resources and IT management
  • Risk management and
  • Supply chain management.

Drawing from its vision, mission and objectives, as well as the local and international context within which the organisation operates, USAf has identified three key pillars of delivery for all areas of work.


This refers to the need to ensure that higher education institutions and USAf respond appropriately to the changing social, political, technological and economic context within which public universities operate. By doing so, USAf will be able to advocate effectively for universities and work with partners to identify opportunities for these institutions to thrive. In increasing its responsiveness over the following three years, USAf will focus on facilitating the sharing of best practices among member institutions to enable shared expertise and learning, shaping the higher education policy and strengthening USAf’s links to the global network of higher education institutions.


This is about securing a better future by acting responsibly today, considering the need to balance growth, spending, resource use and infrastructure development; eco-friendly practices; and social well-being. USAf is particularly focused on improving the financial sustainability of universities and developing an excellent, transformed cohort of academics and support staff. It also plans to highlight the need for universities to reduce their environmental impact and carry out research on sustainable practices, for South Africa and for broader global impact. Internally, USAf is concerned with its own financial sustainability, staff development and its environmental impact.


Transformation is about bringing about positive change. In the South African context, it has come to be understood as transitioning from the apartheid era into a democratic era. Transformation remains a major education policy goal, as it is understood that through education, change can be realised. The transformation agenda underpins the 2013 White Paper for PSET, which envisions ‘a single, coordinated’ system that is ‘fair, equitable, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic’, offering ‘expanded access, improved quality and increased diversity’, strengthened through ‘cooperative relationships’ and ‘responsive to the needs of individual citizens’ and ‘broader societal and developmental objectives’ as spelt out in the White Paper for Post-School Education and Training: Building an expanded, effective and integrated post-school system (DHET 2013:4).

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