Strategy 2017-2021

The UKZN Strategic Plan 2017-2021 articulates the University’s commitment to shaping a better future – by “Inspiring Greatness” within and beyond the University. The strategy includes the purpose and values that will remain fixed during the lifespan of this Strategic Plan. The organisational strategies and practices have had to continually change in order to adapt to a changing operating environment. This enables UKZN to simultaneously manage continuity and change effectively.

strategic pillars


The purpose of UKZN, or the reason it exists, is to shape a better future by “Inspiring Greatness”. This purpose reflects the intrinsic motivation for all at UKZN, to advance the University’s Mission by what they do and how they go about their business on a daily basis.

Mission Statement

UKZN’s Mission is to be “A truly South African University of Choice that is academically excellent, innovative in research, entrepreneurial, and critically engaged with society.”

This Mission Statement commits UKZN to being one of the great universities of the world, contributing to the advancement of knowledge and scholarship in ways that enrich and transform society in Africa and internationally.


UKZN aims to establish a value-driven organisational culture that empowers the Institution and its people to achieve institutional goals. The guiding values are Respect, Excellence, Accountability, Client Orientation, Honesty, and Trust – represented as R.E.A.C.H.T The behaviour and actions of everyone at UKZN will, accordingly, demonstrate:

  • Respect: UKZN undertakes to promote mutual respect, courtesy, and inclusiveness.
  • Excellence: UKZN undertakes to display quality, leadership and energy in all that it does.
  • Accountability: UKZN promises to be responsible and accountable in the behaviour displayed towards all its stakeholders.
  • Client Orientation: UKZN undertakes to satisfy the needs of all its clients, stakeholders and partners, on a consistent basis.
  • Honesty: UKZN promises to deliver with integrity – steadfastly and with adherence to good governance.
  • TrustT: The ‘T’ symbol after reacht refers to the principle of ‘trust’ that underpins all of the other institutional values. The implicit trust enjoyed by every member of UKZN and their well-defined actions that embrace the R.E.A.C.H.T values, are the important ingredients of the moral fibre of the Institution.

Pillars for delivering on the Purpose

UKZN’s success in Inspiring Greatness depends upon the Institution fostering an enabling organisational culture that will enhance its reputation among its stakeholders

– as a partner that can be relied upon. Such an enabling environment will also ensure that UKZN is a university of choice for students, staff, and partners. As the University strives to achieve its purpose, the following pillars will guide its operations in terms of how it goes about its business as a university with an aspiration towards servant leadership:


For UKZN, empowerment encompasses the discovery and development of talent, the unlocking of potential, and the recognition of ambition. This means creating a climate in which staff and students are empowered to grow, contribute, challenge, and make a difference in society. Such an environment must be enabling, inspiring, stimulating, supportive, healthy, and safe. This agenda will require UKZN to invest in its people and to ensure that diversity and equality of opportunity are promoted and celebrated. The Institution will provide education and training opportunities for all its staff – as well as the intellectual, physical and social spaces that will enable its people to work and learn effectively.

Service Excellence

Through its service-excellence agenda, UKZN will embed the notion of “going the extra mile” into the execution of its Mission. The Institution’s partners and stakeholders will always come first. UKZN will strive to offer the best possible experience to everyone engaging with the University. The Institution will:
  • Benchmark and reward excellent service in all areas of its operations;
  • Promote a high-performing organisational culture; and
  • Prioritise investment in those activities it considers will improve service quality and yield excellent results.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

UKZN will actively strive to cultivate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship at the University, and will position the Institution at the epicentre of the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in the region. UKZN will work with its partners to discover and share new knowledge and new ways to lead through its teaching, research, intellectual debate, and the use of technology – in order to drive meaningful socio- economic impact and organisational effectiveness. UKZN will also aim to embrace an entrepreneurial spirit in advancing its Mission, and will instill a culture and mind-set of entrepreneurship in its graduates and staff. This entails embracing innovation, entrepreneurship, and calculated risk-taking – which is an essential part of UKZN’s strategy to succeed in an ever-changing and increasingly competitive Higher Education environment. In the evolution of universities, innovation and entrepreneurship is becoming a significant institutional differentiator. UKZN will work towards sustainability which will leverage a culture and mind-set of innovation and entrepreneurship.


In terms of the transformative ethos of the South African Constitution, “transformation” can be defined as a perpetual ideal entailing the creation of a space in which dialogue and debate are truly possible, in which fresh ways of being are constantly sought and generated, embraced and rejected – and in which change is continuous. UKZN’s approach to transformation coheres with this definition, which envisions a society that will always be open to change and contestation and will therefore always be defined by transformation. In the South African context, transformative constitutionalism – which is to heal the wounds of the past and guide the people to a better future – is a foundational value that underpins institutional culture. Therefore, the creation of a value-driven institutional culture and a general reform of the University in all its core activities, is critical. This should result in the demographic transformation of the student and workforce profiles – fit for purpose and mission delivery. The transformation of the institutional
symbols, values, and governance arrangements will reflect the context in which UKZN is positioned. This must be acceptable to all, in an environment characterised by academic and social inclusivity, mutual respect and acceptance – and in which all forms of prejudice and unfair discrimination are prohibited. According to the UKZN Transformation Charter, the University community is committed to creating an institution where:

  • Research, teaching, learning and scholarship are a vocation for all;
  • Race and gender representation are evident in all structures;
  • A socially cohesive and inclusive institutional culture thrives;
  • Good modes of governance are enshrined;
  • The right to freedom of expression is guaranteed; and
  • Advancement of the transformation agenda is the responsibility of all.