Mbombela: The Medical University of South Africa’s former rector, Professor Ramaranka Mogotlane, has been appointed as one of the four academics, who will lead the long awaited University of Mpumalanga (UMP).
Mogotlane, who started his job last week, was appointed as the chairman of the university’s Strategic Management Team and will be working with Tshwane University of Technology’s leader in Mpumalanga, Professor John Shongwe, and two others, who are yet to be appointed.
“We are working on a tight schedule. We have to get memoranda with sister or sponsor universities such as Johannesburg and KwaZulu-Natal in place, define the various portfolios in the Strategic Management Team,” said Mogotlane.
Mogotlane said the team of professors are also tasked with creating a quality tertiary institution that is locally relevant and nationally and internationally competitive.
UMP is expected to secure staff members, recruit students, market the institution, set standards and deliver quality output.
Both Shongwe and Mogotlane agree that this is one of the biggest and most challenging tasks they have ever undertaken in their careers.
“As a province, we are very excited about this development. We are not new to big challenges or rather challenges of this magnitude, but we will pull it off. Our sister universities will help us with staff in the meantime,” Shongwe said.
Mogotlane added that UMP should be a real institution that meets expectations.
“We want to make this university a place to desire. It will also be geared up to be developmental and relevant to the resources of the province. For example, we are known to be a province of farming, mining, tourism and game parks, so the university must offer courses relevant to what we are,” said Mogotlane.
The Department of Higher Education and Training has confirmed that UMP will be a comprehensive university, offering both traditional and university of technology-type programmes.
Mogotlane said UMP will develop over time into an institution that will cater for 15 000 full time equivalent students within 10 years, with the initial 2014 start-up intake being small and being accommodated in existing buildings.
While the new university is under construction, the first pool of students, who will start their lessons in 2014, will be accommodated at the Agricultural College and the Siyabuswa College (formerly KwaNdebele College of Education).
“Three programmes had been planned and lodged for approval with the Council for Higher Education. These will include a Bachelor of Education, a Bachelor of Agriculture and a Diploma in Hospitality,” Mogotlane said.
He said construction of new buildings and infrastructure for the University will only start following an Environmental Impact Assessment which is expected to be completed by June 2014 at the value of R10 billion.