By: Mbuso Thumbathi
MBOMBELA, SOUTH AFRICA, Feb 18– South Africa’s newest institution of higher learning, the University of Mpumalanga (UMP), will officially be opened for learning on Wednesday.
According to the university’s chairman and head of academic affairs, Professor Ramaranka Mogotlane, the institution has already admitted 160 students.
“Registration took place on Feb 14 and this week we have started with orientation until the official academic opening of the university on Wednesday,” Mogotlane said Monday in this capital of the northeastern province of Mpumalanga.
At the end of October last year, Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande said lectures would take place at the Siyabuswa College of Education in Siyabuswa and Lowveld Agricultural College in Mbombela.
At the time Nzimande cautioned that universities should not be confused with tall buildings, but the cultural and economic life they bring to the community.
“We therefore expect no Ivory Towers here but rather an institution accessible to all, particularly the rural communities of Mpumalanga, where some of this university’s research will be done. It is from these communities as well as from across the country that it will draw its students. Therefore, there should be engagement at all levels of the institution,” he said.
Nzimande explained that UMP will only offer more courses incrementally. “The initial focus of the new university will be on university of technology type career-focused programmes already offered in the province with a further broadening of niche areas, and on teacher education with emphasis on Foundation Phase (teachers),” he added.
“There will be an incremental introduction of other more general formative type programmes with specialisation areas in health, engineering and agriculture. A fully fledged higher education institution will be established over time and this will be done in phases.”
Mogotlane said the 160 students had enrolled for three programmes — Bachelor of Agriculture, Bachelor of Education: Foundation Phase and a National Diploma in Hospitality.
He said the programmes are under the patronage of the University of Johannesburg and the University of Pretoria. “We are working with the universities of Pretoria and Johannesburg for quality oversight, assessment and continuous improvement,” said Mogotlane.
The chairman added that the university would not benefit the students only, but also those staff members who did not have adequate qualifications. “A staff improvement and development programme will be introduced,” Mogotlane said.
Source: SA NEWS