The Acting VC’s Desk

ACTING VICE-CHANCELLOR AND PRINCIPAL

My first job, when I took over this strategic portfolio, was to combine a number of different departments and put them on a path to raise the profile and educational standing of the university. It has not been easy, because it has required me to consolidate the work of three divisions. I had to begin with devising systems, drawing up policies, and developing SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures).

What I found was emerging pockets of excellence in each division, but we were hampered by our lack of post-graduate programmes. It was difficult to create a post-graduate culture from nothing.

So we started by encouraging senior researchers to stay at MUT even when they were doing their doctoral studies elsewhere. They would enrich their research, find partners, form linkages with other universities, find students to supervise. This approach bore fruit almost immediately – we now already have 12 published papers with an MUT affiliation.

For research, our target for 2022 was 45 output units; we reached a total of 97. Twenty-nine (29) DHET accredited, non-predatory journal articles were received during the first quarter of 2023, a 30% increase from 2022.

MUT’s main focus used to be making students ready for work. We are now pivoting towards a research-based institution. The progress made by staff, on their own, and with the help of the Research Professors and the senior staff that have been involved in research for a while now, is quite pleasing.

We are also collaborating with SASUF – (South Africa/Swedish University Forum) on collaborative projects and we are engaging with the eThekwini Municipality to establish a working relationship. This is part of our Community Engagement (CE) agenda – to contribute to the public good. Based on our partnership with the Moses Kotane Institute, we are in the process of setting up a Digital Centre on campus to serve the Umlazi community. Not only will the community benefit, but MUT will benefit from the research output envisaged through this project.

What I love about MUT is that it has enormous potential to grow from a small base. I foresee great things for this small but dynamic University. There is a strong and energetic management team; there is huge potential and willingness from staff. Already, we are seeing progress. It will only take a few years, then MUT will rise in the rankings to take its place among the top universities in the country.

Professor N Sibiya