Change the world

Historical context

Nelson Mandela University recognises that South African higher education landscape has significantly been shaped by the apartheid legislative framework and its oppressive policies, resulting in unequal opportunity employment, occupation and income within the national labour market, inefficiency, exclusion, alienation, preferential treatment, which in most cases coincided with race and gender.

In order to address these issues within the Higher Education (HE) sector, the Education White Paper 3: A Programme for the Transformation of Higher Education (1997: 3)[1] was developed. Within this context therefore, the key elements associated with the Transformation of HE include:

  • Increased and broadened participation within HE resulting in effective and successful participation of a diverse staff and student population.
  • Responsiveness to societal interests and needs, provision of relevant scholarship, human resource development (leadership and citizenry) to address societal interests and needs.
  • Co-operation and partnerships with government, civil society, business and other HEIs.
  • The provision of an enabling institutional environment and culture that embraces and affirms diversity.

White Paper 3 identifies universities as playing a central role in advancing the social, cultural and economic development of South African communities. It explains that transformation “requires that all existing practices, institutions and values are viewed anew and rethought in terms of their fitness for the new era”.

The White Paper 3 together with various other pieces of legislation has been promulgated to promote the Constitutional right to equality and the exercise of true democracy. These include, but are not limited to the Higher Education Act (1997), Employment Equity Act (1998), Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (2003), and Skill Development Act (1998). As public institutions, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have a legal obligation to comply with these external legislative contexts.

Transformation serves as the vehicle to achieving the Nelson Mandela University's mission and vision and promotes academic and service excellence, social justice, social relevance in relation to the Eastern Cape, South African, African and global challenges and imperatives.

[1] Department of Education discussion document: Education White Paper 3: A Programme for the Transformation of Higher Education. July 1997


Our Mission

To offer a diverse range of quality educational opportunities that will make a critical and constructive contribution to regional, national and global sustainability.

Our Vision

To be a dynamic African university, recognized for its leadership in generating cutting-edge knowledge for a sustainable future.


 The principles/values of the Neslon Mandela University underpinning Transformation include:

  • Respect for diversity reflecting equity, equality and humanity
  • Excellence
  • Ubuntu
  • Integrity
  • Respect for the natural environment
  • Responsibility

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