When Professor Sibusiso Chalufu first heard about the launch, this year, of the inaugural HELM (Higher Education and Leadership Management) SASS (Student Affairs and Student Success) programme– he said he thought it was “the best thing since sliced sphatlo or kota”.

SASS is a national capacitation programme for university staff who are engaged in student affairs, development, support and services across the sector. The bespoke programme – which was oversubscribed when applications first opened – was designed as a direct response to a finding of a 2021 national needs assessment survey, which identified an urgent demand for capacitation in Student Affairs, Student Development and Student Support practitioners.

The SAASSAP (South African Association of Senior Student Affairs Professionals) President, who is also Executive Director: Student Life at North-West University reiterated: “I have been in higher education for nearly 30 years – working in student support for about 13 of these – and this is one of the best things I’ve seen. This programme is an affirmation of the work that we do in student services and its importance, particularly in today’s times with the challenges we face. The SASS programme is a major milestone in our subset, which is aimed at the professionalisation and capacitation of our staff; especially staff members who, in my view, play a critical role in the holistic development of our students and are pivotal in respect of student access and student success.”