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The Division of Student Affairs (DSA) at Sol Plaatje University (SPU) was the proud recipient of two innovation awards at the recent South African Association for Senior Student Affairs Professionals (SAASSAP) Leadership Roundtable and Awards Ceremony. DSA took home the awards for Best Living and Learning Initiative and Best Student Life and Development.

The Roundtable discussions, which took place in East London over the past weekend, focused on best-practice methods in advancing Student Affairs towards a student-centric approach through innovation in the national Student Affairs sector.

“Sol Plaatje University’s Division of Student Affairs has been cemented as one of the best Student Affairs Divisions in the country,” said Ms Nicole Morris, Dean of Students at SPU. “Congratulatory messages were shared by member institutions on the great strides SPU’s Division of Student Affairs has undergone in a short space of time, given that it is one of the youngest universities in the country.”

Various topics were discussed at the Roundtable, including:

  • Co-creating student-centred universities;
  • Research practices within Student Affairs;
  • Gender-based violence in higher education;
  • Digital technology in higher education and student services;
  • Student engagement: Responding to student protests and fostering a culture of dialogue and co-created dispute resolution frameworks; and
  • Student success: Conducive living and learning environments; risk and protective factors to academic success

After the Roundtable, the SAASSAP Awards aimed to recognise Student Affairs professionals who contribute to holistic student growth, development, and student success in the South African higher education context by influencing policy, mobilising, leveraging stakeholders and resources, and creating knowledge and innovation.

In addition to the Division of Student Affairs’ wins, the SPU Campus Housing and Accommodation Unit scooped an award for their renowned accreditation process for accredited off-campus student accommodation. The award also recognised the Unit for the inclusion of an invigorating Residence Life programme, considered the best in the country in 2022.

Under the category Student Life and Development Initiative, SPU received critical acclaim for the SRC Food Nutrition Programme and Thusa Moithuti Fund, a project aimed at alleviating food insecurity and student financial disparity on campus.

In addition, two flagship programmes within the Student Life and Development category, namely the Enhanced Leadership Development Programme and the Future-Focused TransGariep Leadership Programme (a joint inter-institutional leadership programme with the University of Cape Town and the Parliamentary Civic Education Programme) received critical acclaim for being one of the best student-centric capacity-building programmes in the country.

“Sol Plaatje University remains committed to ensuring the best learning experience for all our students,” Ms Morris said. “This type of recognition underlines that commitment to our students – to constantly improve and build upon our offering so that our students experience the latest in technological advancements in the classroom, and in their on-campus living experience.”