State of VUT
History of VUT
The Vaal University of Technology has its origins in the Vaal Triangle College for Advance Technical Education in 1966. It became the Vaal Triangle Technikon (1979-2003) following the recommendations of Schumann Commission (1964) and the increasing demand for technicians and other middle level human resources skills. The next major step in the evolution of technikons was the promulgation of the Technikons Act (National Education) 1983 (Act 84 of 1983) which provided for greater institutional autonomy.
At the time Pittendrigh (25:1985) described the impact of the Act as follows:
These advances in Technikon autonomy can certainly be considered to be the greatest since the original promulgation of Act No. 40 of 1967 and to be a clear move away from the stated intention of the Minister in 1967 of exercising greater control over their activities.”
The establishment of the Universities and Technikons Advisory Council Act, 1983 (Act 99 of 1983) attempted to bring about closer co-operation between universities and technikons. According to Pittendrigh (26:1985), “There seems little doubt that without it, or a body performing its functions the technikons would not have been able to emerge as autonomous tertiary institutions.”
In 1993 the Technikon Act was amended to provide for the awarding of degrees by technikons. The right to award degrees gave impetus to the ambition of technikons to become universities. In November 2000 the Committee of Technikon Principals (CTP) appointed a task team to develop a position paper on “Universities of Technology” (UoTs) in South Africa and to develop criteria for classification of such universities.
In October 2003 the Minister of Higher Education, Prof Kader Asmal announced his plan for the restructuring of South African Higher Education. In February 2004, the CTP Exco appointed a Task Team to clearly spell out the position, role and functions of universities of technology in the South Africa context. The revised document was published in 2004 as “Universities of Technology in South Africa: Position Role and Function” This document was revised and published in 2009 under the title “The Place and Role of Universities of Technology in South Africa”
At the 22 September 2005 Council for Higher Education (CHE) workshop on UoTs at the Tshwane University of Technology, a resolution was passed to effect the establishment of a network of universities of technology, under the name of the South African Technology Network.
The Vaal University of Technology (VUT) became one of the five founder universities of technology that initiated the formation of the SATN (South African Technology Network).
A brief look at the past highlights some significant VUT developments.
1966: The Vaal Triangle College for Advanced Technical Education opens its doors with Mr CAJ Bornman appointed as the first Principal. The College had 189 students, 15 members of staff and hostel accommodation for 60 students.
1967: On 22 September the official opening takes place, and the Advanced Technical Education Act becomes a reality.
1968: The first Department of Commerce is established at the Vaal Triangle College for Advanced Technical Education.
1971: Mr Bornman resigns as Principal and Dr Isak Steyl is appointed as Director of the Institution.
1972: On 11 April, The Vaal Triangle College receives its institutional autonomy in accordance with the Advanced Technical Education Act. Projects are instituted to expand all existing facilities.
1973: The College experiences an unexpected increase in student numbers, and the Department of National Education approves proposed extensions to buildings. Students are housed in temporary classrooms to accommodate the need for extended facilities.
1974: The Van Wyk de Vries Report, investigating all matters pertaining to technical institutions in South Africa, is published, resulting in far-reaching decisions on the future development of the Vaal Triangle College for Advanced Technical Education.
1975: The construction of new buildings commences, providing students with a new library, gymnasium, laboratories, lecture halls and a new wing for the Department of Commerce and Management. The College is thus enabled to double its student intake and expand the curriculum.
1977: Expansion of facilities continues, and in addition, the National Higher Diploma in Analytical Chemistry is offered for the very first time.
1978: Departments of Art, Food and Clothing Technology are established and student enrolment reaches the 3 000 mark. Staff now totals 137. The findings of the Goode Committee of Inquiry are published and qualifications obtained at the College are investigated. It is recommended that a fifth year of study be introduced to accommodate the training of technologists.
1979: Colleges are renamed Technikons in accordance with the Advanced Technical Amendment Act. The six year hierarchy of qualifications is approved by the Department of Education.
1980: Auditorium 200 is completed and a whole new dimension is added to the existing facilities.
1981: The Vaal Triangle Technikon continues to expand. An additional hostel opens its doors and hosts 140 more students. Vesco donates a further 22 hectares to the Institution to accommodate the massive building expansions approved by the Department of National Education. Courses in Microbiology and Paramedical Sciences are offered for the first time.
1982: One more hostel is completed, housing another 140 students. The Bureau for Student Affairs is established giving students a much needed voice in the management of their issues.
1983: Act 84 of 1983 is passed by Parliament, giving Technikon Councils greater autonomy. Post designations of senior staff are changed and the title of "Rector" is introduced. The Vaal Technikon awards its first Diplomas in Technology.
1984: The first Laureatus students are admitted to register, and the Department of Educational Technology is established.
1985: Building operations commence at the School of Management and Applied Sciences.
1986: The Gold Fields Library for staff and students is completed.
1987: The Vaal Triangle Technikon establishes a satellite campus at Secunda, offering part-time classes. Building commences on new facilities at the main campus for the School of Art and Design. Student numbers reach 6 000.
1994: The Vaal Triangle Technikon establishes a satellite campus at Klerksdorp, called the Northwest Satellite Campus. The Secunda Satellite Campus commences full-time courses in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Marketing. Approval is given to the Technikon to offer degree courses and the first enrolments are admitted.
1995: The Vaal Triangle Technikon establishes two additional satellite campuses at Upington called the Norther Cape Satellite Campus, and at Kempton Park, called the East Rand Satellite Campus. The Secunda Satellite Campus changes its name to the Highveld Ridge Satellite Campus. The first B.Tech degree is awarded.
1996: The Vaal Triangle Technikon adopts a Transformation Charter compiled in consultation with all stakeholders. The academic structure undergoes further changes. Faculties replace the former schools and directors become deans. The first Master’s Degree - M.Tech in Electrical Engineering - is awarded. Mr Tokyo Sexwale is elected the first Chancellor of the Technikon.
1998: The student headcount rises to 14 627 and reflecting the national demographics of the country. Black student enrolment rises to 63,4 percent. All disciplines offer degree courses from Bachelors to Doctorate level. The Gold Fields Foundation's Administration Manager officially opens the Gold Fields Library's Electronic Classroom.
1999: The new language policy, earmarking English as the official language, comes into operation from the beginning of the new academic year. The first Doctorates are awarded in the Faculty of Applied and Computer Sciences and the Faculty of Management Sciences. On 30 April the Vaal Triangle Technikon opens its high-voltage laboratory, making it a leader in the field of Electrical Engineering, with the capacity to serve country’s research needs in power cabling.
2001: This year marks the 35th Anniversary of the institution. A Technology Station for Composite Materials is established to assist the composite industry in product development and the use of state-of-the-art technology. Students involved in the Technology Station activities, were given the opportunity to gain technological skills and real industry experience.
2002: The Department of Technology Planning and Development is established to spearhead the drive to make greater use of technology. On the sporting front, Chris Harmse won a gold medal at the African Champions in Tunisia and Mbulaeni Mulaudzi won a gold medal at the Commonwealth games in Manchester. Mbulaeni is the first South African ever to win a gold medal at these championships. On 6 September the first Honorary Doctorate is awarded to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in recognition of his efforts to promote Human Rights for all South Africans. Three schools were adopted. The Choir releases a CD, entitled "The Mighty Sounds of the Eaglets".
2003: During this year, the Desmond Tutu Lecture Series is instituted. The Inaugural Address is presented by Judge Albie Sachs of the Constitutional Court. The second address in the series was led by Clem Sunter, Chairman of the Anglo American Chairman’s Fund. The academic re-direction of the institution towards becoming a university of technology begins.
2004: The Vaal Triangle Technikon officially becomes the "VAAL UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY". The university takes occupation of the old Vista Campus at Sebokeng, and renamed it "Educity" in the process. "Where the Eagle Soars", a pictorial history of the Vaal Triangle Technikon is published. Mathews Phosa, former premier of Mpumulanga and Chairperson of the UNISA Council at the time, presented the annual Desmond Tutu Lecture. The university publishes its first academic journal "Sediba sa Thuto" to serve as a vehicle for young and new academics and researchers to publish their work. The Institute of Chemical and Biotechnology is established.
2005: Registrations pass the 17 000 mark for the first time. A delegation of senior managers visits four leading universities of technology abroad to gain more knowledge about this university type. The Department of Technology Planning and Development is renamed Technology Transfer and Innovation. A Technology Summit is held to acquaint staff with the characteristics of a university of technology and to identify the "gaps" between a technikon and a university of technology. The Institute for Sustainable Livelihood is established in November. Dr Martin Hinoul of the Katolieke Universteit, Leuven, Belgium presents the annual Desmond Tutu Lecture Series.
2006: VUT celebrates its 40th anniversary. A new academic structure is introduced following the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof I N Moutlana.
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