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University Policies

The University‚Äôs governance practices are continually being reviewed and improved by benchmarking against internationally accepted best practices and King III. 

Here are some of Wits University's policies:

Governance Framework and Committee Structure
Key Governance Documents
Admissions Policy

The University of the Witwatersrand actively advocates the principle of diversity in its student body. It believes that the student body should reflect diversity of race, gender, socio-economic background, urban and rural geographic origin, culture, ethnicity, disability, religion, sexual orientation, national origin [this is not, of course, an exhaustive list]. Consequently, its admissions procedures will try to ensure that diversity in the student body is maintained and further developed, with the eventual goal of mirroring the demographic profile of the wider Gauteng region.

Equity is valued and requires strategic interventions to promote redress. Equity is particularly sought in the race and gender composition of the student body and in the success of students. To this end, the University recognises that a process of fair discrimination in admissions policy will be required for at least the next decade. It therefore commits itself to the development of access principles that do not rely entirely on success in school-leaving examinations (as reflected in matriculation points rating), for identifying potential candidates from scholastically disadvantaged groups and socio-economically deprived backgrounds.

Selection and admissions decisions need to balance adherence to the principles of equity and diversity with the continued recognition of academic excellence. To this end, the University commits itself to admissions practices that are fair and transparent; to a teaching and learning environment that is conducive to success and actively targets students who may previously not have been admitted, but who have the potential to succeed at University; and to self-assessment and reporting that ensures accountability. This may involve the flexible deployment of enrolment and equity targets in specific programmes. However, where use is made of any additional assessment processes to inform admissions decisions, these practices will conform to the relevant statutory or professional standards and norms.

An admissions policy based on flexible access and redress has to be supported by mechanisms to ensure improved student success. The present national secondary schooling system does not yet provide equal educational opportunities, and the habits of learning that are necessary to university success are not equally inculcated in all young South Africans. Poverty, prejudice and under-resourced teaching and learning environments in some schools militate against easy access to university and provide obstacles to achievement in the early years of training, while the dominance of English as a sole tertiary language of instruction disadvantages second-language English learners. Postgraduate students also bring with them a range of educational experiences that are unequal in their ability to prepare students for study at Wits.

While the University has a responsibility to redress some of these inequities, it cannot, on its own, compensate for inadequate educational experiences in other contexts. To improve completion rates and support excellence, the University commits itself to linking its admissions policy to an increasing focus on teaching and learning practices, and on academic development programmes at Faculty and School level designed to significantly improve the study, writing, argumentation, and research skills of all students across all programmes.

Once a student is admitted to the University, the University undertakes to provide whatever educational support may be reasonably expected for him or her to have equal access to academic success. With this in mind, we will also attempt to foster a richly inclusive and welcoming institutional culture, and to conduct regular reviews of curricula, programmes, and pedagogy, to make sure that these too take account of the diversity we wish to foster.

Although we realise that adequate funding for a student is directly associated with likelihood of success, financial aid provision cannot meet demand. As the University wishes to ensure diversity and equity in the profile and performance of its students it will direct its resources, within budgetary limits, to supporting students who excel academically and who qualify for financial aid, but are not able to fund their own studies in full. The University shall not admit students for whom it does not have adequate resources including space, library material, computing facilities, or special academic support when needed. In the case of resource-intensive programmes, the University will make explicit the number of disadvantaged or special needs students it can accommodate. Where there are limitations on financial aid availability for qualifying students these will also be made explicit.

The Admissions Policy can be accessed here.

Internationalisation Policy

The purpose of the Wits Internationalisation Policy is to articulate the University's views and strategies on internationalisation, which is central to the University’s understanding of itself and its mission. Over the years, Wits has built an international reputation as a university of high quality that promotes freedom of enquiry, the generation of knowledge and high quality teaching. At the heart of Wits’ mission is an understanding of the pivotal role of higher education in an emerging and transformative South African democracy. Wits’ location in Johannesburg, a metropolitan and cosmopolitan city region that is an important economic hub in Africa, presents unique opportunities for the University to respond to global challenges, using the African context as a basis for innovative research and scholarship.


Language Policy

Linguistic diversity is a resource for creativity, selfhood and cognition that should be cultivated and protected through institutions of higher learning in the 21st century. In its mission to offer education within the context of a multilingual nation state, the University of the Witwatersrand recognises that learning the languages of South Africa is not only an important means of enhancing understanding of one another, but also an imperative in producing multilingual graduates. Moreover, given the University's status as a premier institution situated in the most diverse city in the country, its policy should reflect this national character while staying globally competitive. In order to create opportunities for an appropriate balance between English and other national official languages, the resources of the University need to be mobilised to develop at least two indigenous African languages, which represent the two major language clusters; Nguni and Sotho in South Africa, and to enhance the language competencies of staff and students in learning and teaching, interpersonal communication, research and administration. Because of the University's commitment to inclusiveness and reasonable accommodation, South African Sign Language (SASL) will continue to be supported by the University. The University aims to become a multilingual institution with two major African languages and South African Sign Language, in addition to English.

This Wits Draft Language Policy is informed by the South African Constitution (Act No. 108 of 1996), the language research conducted at the University during 2002 and 2014, and the Ministry of Education’s Language Policy for Higher Education (2002). These documents make clear the necessity of developing a multilingual environment in which all languages are developed for use in education and the medium of instruction does not serve as a barrier to access and success. All educational institutions are required to produce a language policy that furthers transformation in South Africa. While respecting the autonomy of institutions to determine their own language policy, such determination has to be within the policy parameters set by government. The policy framework for higher education requires institutions to address the following issues:

  • languages of instruction
  • the future of South African languages as fields of academic study and research
  • the study of foreign languages
  • the promotion of multilingualism in its policies and practices.

Language Policy 2003

Language Policy 2014

Language Policy 2015

Johannesburg is the most linguistically diverse city in South Africa. This multilingual context creates opportunities for learning a range of African languages. Both the 2002 and 2014 language surveys show that Sesotho and IsiZulu are the most widely understood African languages in the immediate environment of the University. These languages also represent  two major language clusters (Nguni and Sotho) to which 7 indigenous African languages belong. Hence, the University's multifocal policy should include IsiZulu, Sesotho, South African Sign Language and English.

Policy on Smoking and Hawking at Wits

According to the University policy, hawkers and the conduct of informal business are not allowed on campus. This includes the selling of food, telephone cards, posters, books, etc. from any makeshift location - eg. tables under the trees on the library lawns, door to door selling and so on, as well as the unauthorised installation of vending machines of any description.

Smoking is prohibited throughout the University. Smoking permitted areas are designated in certain spaces. 

Student Academic Misconduct Policy

Academic Misconduct includes any action which gains, attempts to gain, or assists others in gaining or attempting to gain an unfair academic advantage. It includes Plagiarism as defined in the policy, collusion, cheating, copying, contract cheating, fabrication of data, the use and/or possession of unauthorised materials or devices during an assessment; and falsification or misrepresentation of information including, falsification of a medical certificate, and/or changing a script after it has been marked.

Read the Student Academic Misconduct Policy.