The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) was formed on 1st January 2004 as a result of the merger between the University of Durban-Westville and the University of Natal. The new University brought together the rich histories of both former universities which encompass disadvantage and advantage respectively.
The two KwaZulu-Natal universities were among the first set of institutions to be merged in 2004 as part of government’s reform aimed at reconfiguring and restructuring higher education. The resulting merged institution is a large and complex contact university.
UKZN has 5 campuses in two major cities, four in Durban and one in Pietermaritzburg, with a total student population of approximately 42000, 20% of whom are postgraduates, and a total staff complement of approximately 4300. The internationalisation of the university is focused primarily on its postgraduate enrolments which are 14% of the total postgraduate enrolments while international undergraduate enrolments comprise only 4% of the total undergraduate enrolments.
UKZN adopted a college model as its governance organizational structure for its academic and administrative systems. It established 4 Colleges each headed by a Deputy Vice-Chancellor: the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science; the College of Health Sciences; the College of Humanities; and the College of Law and Management Studies. The total number of Schools in UKZN is 52 although this number will reduce to approximately 20 through further reconfiguration and consolidation over the coming 12 months. In addition, there are two university-wide Deputy Vice-Chancellors of Research and of Teaching and Learning.
UKZN is classified by the national Department of Science and Technology as one of 5 research-led and research-intensive Universities in South Africa (Kahn M 2006). Over the past 7 years, UKZN has been consistently rated the 2nd or 3rd most research-productive university (as measured by the Department of Higher Education and Training’s SAPSE Units) of the 23 universities. It has the best instruction and research staff and student equity profile of all the research-intensive universities according to Education Statistics in South Africa (Department of Education 2007). UKZN achieved all these while undergoing a merger and a major transformation through prioritising diversity as a critical factor to excellence and equity. In total, 40% of staff time is allocated to research for all academic staff at UKZN. However, approximately 15% of all full time equivalent academic staff members are exclusively research staff.
The data for the period 2004-2005 needs to be interpreted cautiously. Whilst UKZN was legally a single institution, the data for this period was largely managed by the two separate systems of the legacy institutions. During 2004-2005, staff and schools were moved and consolidated on the different campuses. It was also during this period that harmonization of policies and data into a single set of institutional data from the two separate IT systems was undertaken.