THE first university in the Northern Cape should open its doors in 2014, the Department of Higher Education and Training said this week.
The legal process for getting the university off the ground was advanced after a record of intention was signed by various officials in Kimberley on Tuesday.
"This will enable further planning for construction to commence in September, and for the first programmes to be offered in the 2014 academic year," Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said.
Mr Nzimande, the province’s acting premier Grizelda Cjiekella and mayor of the Sol Plaatjie municipality Agnes Ntlhangula signed the record of intention on Tuesday.
The university is to be built in Kimberley on land owned by the province and municipality.
The signing of the record of intention opened the way for the establishment of the university to be gazetted, a step which would see it regarded as a legal entity.
According to the department the gazetting should take place in the next two to three weeks.
The university would be one of the first two to be built in post-apartheid South Africa. The other was planned for Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, and expected to open in 2014.
In September, studies into the feasibility of both the infrastructure and operations for the two new universities were completed and given to the Treasury.
The Treasury subsequently endorsed the studies and allocated R2bn, to be paid between 2013 and 2016, for the universities to be established.
According to the department’s documents the Northern Cape institution would be built in the inner city of Kimberley, while its Mpumalanga counterpart would be built on the site of the Lowveld Agricultural College in Nelspruit.
The Kimberley university was expected to offer programmes in disciplines such as information technology and computer sciences, engineering, and agriculture.
Studies in management would focus on business and hospitality management, while nursing would be the focus of health sciences. Specialisations in teacher education, indigenous languages, heritage studies, and art were also planned.
The university was expected to offer postgraduate studies in astronomy, as well as in applied sciences such as renewable energy, low carbon energy, hydrology, water resource management, and climate variability.
In Mpumalanga, postgraduate studies would focus on agricultural sciences, especially on sub-tropical fruit, biodiversity, and ecosystem management, human development, family, rural and sustainable development.
A variety of qualifications would be offered in other agricultural fields of study, as well as in engineering, health sciences and computer science.
Management, economic and finance studies would focus on developing logistics and local government management skills.
Offering training for foundation phase teachers would also be a priority.