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The establishment of a campus dedicated to the future growth of Ocean Sciences, broad agreements around related research themes, and the strengthening of partnerships both nationally and internationally in 2017, all augur well for the University’s future.

Infrastructure developments and refurbishments on the Ocean Sciences Campus are being undertaken in phases, largely aligned with the release of tranches of DHET Infrastructure and Efficiency Funding, as well as other revenue streams, such as the research and equipment grants of research chairs and scientists located on the new campus.

Phase 1 - 2017

Nelson Mandela University’s quest to become the leading Ocean Sciences hub for research, teaching and engagement took a massive leap forward this year with the realisation of the following:

  • Broad agreement around the Ocean Sciences strategy in terms of branding, academic and research content, cross-cutting themes, and the commitment towards a transdisciplinary approach in seeking solutions to Ocean Sciences challenges.
  • The successful hosting of several Ocean Science-related events including various conferences and workshops internally and externally with key players both nationally and internationally; the Waves of Change event for staff; the launch of the Ocean Sciences Campus on 22 September, and the launch of the FishFORCE law enforcement academy on 8 November.
  • The signing of an MoU with the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) on 21 November towards joint projects for the Province linked to Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy.    

A valuable workshop was also hosted by Vice-Chancellor Prof Derrick Swartz in November relating to the roll-out of the Ocean Sciences strategy on the new campus, especially in terms of catalytic interventions for the next phase.

Phase 2 – 2018 to 2020

From an infrastructure perspective, the following will join the new Ocean Sciences Campus by early next year:

  • The South African International Marine Institute (SAIMI).
  • Another two national research chairs: Marine Spatial Planning and the Law of the Sea and Development in Africa, along with the FishFORCE Academy.
  • Ocean sciences researchers from Business and Economic Sciences; South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON); and the Institute for Coastal and Marine Research.

Existing facilities are being modernised and refurbished to provide for open-plan spaces and research commons, which are conducive to transdisciplinary collaboration to explore solutions to global sustainability challenges. The campus will accommodate clusters of ocean sciences disciplines and research projects, which are co-located in spatial precincts that align with the following overarching ocean sciences themes:

  • Oceans and cultures
  • Ocean governance and marine protection
  • Oceans economy
  • Oceans health and marine biodiversity

Apart from the design philosophy, the following will also be introduced during the course of next year:

  • The governance and practical management of the Ocean Sciences Campus as part of the University’s overarching academic strategy,
  • The prototyping and piloting of an innovative, streamlined shared services support hub for the Ocean Sciences Campus, and
  • Economic and business viability modelling to ensure the optimal use of the facilities and revenue generation opportunities. 

Phase 3 – 2020 and beyond

Developments in phase 3 will include greenfield initiatives and innovations intentionally designed to foster partnerships with government, industry and civil society, in keeping with developments internationally.  This will include the establishment of a multi-purpose ocean sciences conferencing, exhibition and engagement centre, incubation facilities for spin-off companies and start-ups, headquarters for city and regional maritime clusters, and so forth. New facilities will be flexibly designed to allow for the fluid in-and-out movement of ocean sciences projects/research groups for a finite period, defined by the requirements and timeframes of the project.

While champion of the Ocean Sciences proposition Vice-Chancellor Prof Derrick Swartz is leaving the University, he will not be lost to Ocean Sciences. Prof Swartz has committed to continuing his passion for all things marine and maritime both locally and internationally.

For all Ocean Sciences-related matters at Nelson Mandela University, go it the Ocean Sciences website on



Contact information
Mrs Debbie Derry
Deputy Director: Communication
Tel: 041 504 3057