MUT prepares to introduce a Performance Management System

Some of the staff members that attended the workshop

The management of Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) has taken a giant step that is set to revolutionise the University.

On 30 November, MUT management met off-campus to discuss the introduction of a Performance Management System (PMS). The workshop was for all university line managers to participate. The Department of Human Resources and Development, which is driving the process, said they decided on a top-down approach because most of the groundwork at this stage will have to be done by the line managers, particularly because it is the introductory stage of the project. The line managers will have to cascade PMS and implement it with their teams through the applicable policy, that was approved by the University Council in 2019.

Bathabile Wella, Organisational Development Coordinator at MUT, said the pilot phase of the project was expected to be implemented from January 2023 and will be limited to staff members in the 1-6 pay class, which is all MUT staff members in management positions.

The meeting offered staff members and representatives of organised labour an opportunity to discuss the finer details of the project, and its implications. Also discussed were the limitations the University is facing as it prepares to implement the project.

In his address to the meeting, Professor Marcus Ramogale, the Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal of MUT, appealed to staff to approach the PMS’s implementation as an opportunity to change the institutional operation, which will require a change in the institutional culture.

Professor Ramogale used Japan’s example. “In Japan workers do not need supervision. Instead, workers do their best to perfect what they are doing. Their contribution is determined by their eagerness to excel, not by the amount of time they are expected to be at work,” he said. This dovetails with the Leadership Capability statement which the University defines in MUT Strategy 2025 as  the DEEDS: Deliver.Empower.Engage. Discover.Sustainability.

Wella said this change in how the University operates will have to be managed with care. She said managers and their staff must engage continuously; this will give them a chance to deal with problems as they arise, not when it is too late. Wella said the managers, working with the Department of Human Resources and Development, will have to develop the job description of their staff members.

“Staff members must be given a chance to discuss their job description with the managers so that they will know what is expected of them. The performance areas in the job description should not be more than six, and not less than five,” Wella said.

Professor Nokuthula Sibiya, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement, and Baboo Brijlal, the Senior Director of the Department of Human Resources and Development, empowered the staff by giving a talk about their experiences of the PMS. Both Professor Sibiya and Brijlal emphasized that great care needed to be taken for the project to succeed.

Professor Sibiya also added that some of the benefits of the PMS was that it enabled the institution to measure performance and reward those who are performing exceptionally as per the targets set.

“The university will not thank the fish for swimming,” said Professor Sibiya. “You will only be recognised when you have exceeded the target.”

The PMS meetings will continue until 2026 when the whole University staff are integrated into PMS.

MUT hosts Community Engagement Indaba to improve its impact on community work

Professor Nokuthula Sibiya

The University has moved with speed to consolidate and strengthen its position as a university of technology that is united, and community-focused. In a Community Engagement Indaba that was held off-campus on 1 December 2022, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research, Innovation and Engagement, Professor Nokuthula Sibiya, reminded her colleagues that it was important for a University staff member to be more than familiar with what other colleagues were doing.

The right hand must know what the left hand is doing, so they can support each other, she said. Professor Sibiya reiterated that staff needed to tear down the silos and reach out to each other. Such an attit

ude will assist to propel the University to greater heights.

This would be solid ground to launch one of the major responsibilities of a university – Community Engagement. Professor Sibiya described Community Engagement as “one of the pillars of the universities, including MUT”. Professor Sibiya said that Community Engagement at the University was a scholarly activity of research, and teaching and learning that encompasses all planned activities that the University community and the external communities engage in.

Professor Sibiya said a concern was raised that Community Engagement was receiving less priority, compared to teaching and learning,  and research the other two core functions of the University.

“A recommendation was made for an institutional Community Engagement Indaba to have a dialogue on what Community Engagement means in the context of MUT,” said Professor Sibiya.

Professor Sibiya said the interlocutors deliberated on the following questions to guide the discussion so that we could have a shared understanding of Community Engagement in the context of MUT.

“What is the community from the context of MUT; what is the engagement from a context of MUT; Community Engagement from a social impact; and how are we engaged as a university; and in what way are we engaged as a university,” said Professor Sibiya.

Also central to discussions was how Community Engagement relates to teaching and learning, and research. Both Professor Sibiya and Professor Busisiwe Nkonki-Mandleni, the Director of the Community Engagement and Development Directorate (CEAD) at the University, emphasised to staff the necessity for community engagement activities to be conducted following the guidelines established by her Directorate. The CEAD has guidelines that staff will have to use when doing community engagement, including when conducting research within the community. The community engagement projects or activities must be registered with the CEAD, which will give staff all the necessary assistance they will need.

Also attending the Indaba was the Student Representative Council (SRC).

New tank helps alleviate MUT water challenges

The newly tank will be of great use to MUT

MUT’s water challenges are slowly becoming a thing of the past, thanks to a new tank installed at the University to supply various buildings, which have been struggling with water shortages. The tank was a generous donation to MUT from the Gift of the Givers Foundation (GoG).

Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at MUT, led efforts to mobilise resources to solve the University’s water challenges. She explained: “Water is an important resource, which affects all human processes. Our University cannot operate without water, and neither can we afford to buy water and/or a tank of this size to store water. Our University is grateful to our partner, the Gift of the Givers Foundation, who is always there when we call.”

Mkhize further added that the new tank was the latest in a string of donations from GoG. GoG has also replaced computers for the Electrical Engineering laboratory that were damaged by the floods, continuously donated food suppliers for the Student Pantry since the floods, and trained 100 staff and community members in administering First Aid to prepare them for swift response in the event of disasters.

“Our partnership with the Gift of the Givers is a good example of how we can use partnerships to contribute to changing and improving the lives of people in various communities,” said Mkhize. “We are proud to have the Gift of the Givers’ name attached to our institution.”

MUT Management Sciences hosts workshop to strengthen academic offerings

All the dean’s staff! Dr Bheka Ntshangase, seated, third from left, and Professor  Mahlapahlapana Themane, also seated, fourth from left, with the members of the faculty

The Faculty of Management Sciences is resolute in its goals of growing the faculty’s academic offerings and improving the courses the faculty offers. On 28-30 November 2022, the Faculty had a workshop off-campus to discuss curriculum development.

Dr Bheka Ntshangase, the Acting Dean of the Faculty, said the workshop was aimed at capacitating staff in terms of curriculum development and programme accreditation. The workshop was “laying a foundation for the new proposed PQM (Programme and Qualification Mix) for the Faculty of Management Sciences. The FMS is introducing vertical and new horizontal PQM,” Dr Ntshangase said.

The vertical is the Postgraduate Diplomas and Master’s offerings, and the horizontal is Maritime Studies, Supply Chain Management, Entrepreneurship, Communication, Events Management, Call Centre Management, Operations Management, and Tourism Management, among others.

Dr Ntshangase said the faculty’s end goal was to introduce Doctoral qualifications and some short courses that would contribute to generating third-stream income for the University.

The workshop focussed on curriculum design, renewal and the accreditation process for new programmes. MUT staff members and Professor Mahlapahlapana Themane, from the University of Limpopo, discussed the internal and external processes regarding programme accreditation. Dr Ntshangase said the Faculty aimed to register programmes at NQF levels 8 and 9 (Postgraduate Diplomas and Masters levels), soon to move to NQF 10.

Professor Themane, who has more than 20 years of experience in curriculum development, shared with staff the theories that underpin curriculum development, and the legislative framework that is the foundation of curriculum development.

MUT staff go all out with their SASUF Goes Digital applications

The SASUF Coordinator, Helin Backman, based in Sweden, has confirmed with the Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at MUT, Mbali Mkhize, that MUT staff submitted applications for the virtual collaborative grants.

Thanking the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Teaching and Learning for making the deadline and submitting her own proposal, Professor Nokuthula Sibiya said, “We are talking about leading from the front here. It can not be fair to be talking about being engaged in the University’s internationalisation agenda yet not demonstrating to the people you lead how to implement the strategy”.

Xoli Ngubane, Director at the MUT’s Technology Station in Chemical is another colleague in Professor Sibiya’s portfolio who has submitted a multi-stakeholder proposal to SASUF with Stellenbosch University and a consortium of a few universities.

MarComms submitted two proposals with four universities in Sweden and five in South Africa.

“There are possibilities that some colleagues may have had proposals submitted directly by the partner universities. In that event, I would request everyone that made submissions should alert my office as I would need to request our internal SASUF Coordinator to advise the University,” added Professor Sibiya.

At a workshop to simplify the SASUF application process in October, Professor Sibiya encouraged everyone to take the initiative to apply.

“To have four known applications submitted so far shows a determination to move internationalisation forward, an outcome that is at the heart of the VC and his executive,” said Mkhize.

High spirits in freezing Germany for MUT staff and partner

MUT staff with partners in Germany

Professor Babatunde Bakare, Acting Dean in the Faculty of Engineering, and Khaya Shabangu, Lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering, together with Dr Olu Ajayi, Chief Executive Officer of MUT partner company, Siyacanda Energy, are all freezing cold in Germany yet in high spirits because of what they will be bringing back to MUT is larger than the cold weather.

“We are currently being taught how to use the most complex equipment which will be shipped back to South Africa, to MUT, for us to establish the Climate Change Centre. When our executive sponsor, Dr Jockel requested us to read the manuals and look at the specifications ahead of our trip to Germany, he did us a huge favour. We are catching up with all the complexities. It is so surreal to look at this world-class equipment.  To imagine that this equipment will be used for training at least 15 students per semester makes it even more surreal. This is big for the University and there are further possibilities of employment opportunities ahead for these students. Upon our return, we will also train staff so that we equip them with superior skills in new technologies,” said Professor Bakare.

The MUT partner, Dr Ajayi is over the moon that the dream he had when he first approached MUT for an MoU is now being realised. “I will not stop finding opportunities for MUT. During my trip to Germany, I will also visit some universities that I am still professionally attached to so that MUT could have a bigger presence at the universities in Germany,” said Dr Ajayi.

This commitment to the University needs to be applauded.

MUT Electrical Engineering student scoops SAIEE award

Slindile, right, showing her certificate and trophy, and Sbongiseni Masondo

To say that Slindile Shongwe, a final-year Electrical Engineering student, has done the University proud will be an understatement. On 25 November 2022, at a ceremony held at the Coastlands Hotel in Durban, Slindile was announced as a winner of the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) SAIEE (South African Institute of Electrical Engineers) Award for Best Design. Slindile was awarded a certificate, trophy, and prize money.

Slindile said that receiving the award was a great honour.  “This award from SAIEE recognizes my hard work and gives an amazing feeling of getting awarded for the efforts that I put in,” said Slindile.

Slindile’s winning project was a solar-powered advertising board. Slindile said solar-powered boards were the cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to display a company’s brand, or to highlight something of importance at zero utility cost.

Sibongiseni Masondo, a staff member in the Department of Electrical Engineering, said he was “excited that one of our own students in the department was nominated for the 2022 KZN SAIEE Awards, and won.  I like to congratulate Slindile Shongwe for making us proud as a department,” said Masondo.

Masondo added that want made it more exciting was that a woman won this award in a male-dominated field.

“I am looking forward to seeing more females dominate in these awards; Slindile has shown other students that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it,” Masondo said.

The behind the scenes work done by Dr Richard Chizdonga, Head of Department, Electrical Engineering, cannot be understated. He made thorough consultations with MarComms and the Legal office to ensure that the student receives her prize before the end of the year.

MUT Biomedical Sciences students share final presentations before the world of work

The Biomedical Sciences students, staff and the adjudicators

Although they will be working in very quiet laboratories, in most cases only interacting with the instruments of their profession and with a few people, the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) allowed these final-year students to say their goodbyes to the university in a true academic style.

They had to conduct their final presentations, which are a requirement for the completion of their studies, and form part of semester 6 of their study.

There were nine groups of students, each group had five members. Veronica Biyela, Training/Quality Coordinator in the department, said the presentations were part of Integrative Medical Laboratory Sciences III. Biyela said that before starting their laboratory training, students are given a topic to research, and present on.

“The topics are based on current and important diseases, and or conditions that affect the human body. They are to follow cases from the time patients are seen by doctors to the time the Medical Laboratory Scientists confirm the diagnosis. They then integrate the information gathered from all the different disciplines into one presentation,” said Biyela.

Biyela said the panel that adjudicated presentations consisted of experienced Medical Laboratory Technologists/Scientists, some were Laboratory Managers in their respective laboratories, while others are Supervisors and Training Managers.

“The adjudicators are specifically looking at the students’ understanding of the topic, and how the students process and give accurate results that will be meaningful and assist in the treatment and monitoring of the disease for the benefit of the patients,” said Biyela.

Biyela added that the presentations allow students to be “more prepared” for the critical roles they would be playing in saving lives. The presentations also provided students with an opportunity to learn how to communicate results as this is one of their roles. Biyela added that the role of a Medical Laboratory Scientist involved investigation, interrogating and advising.

“This is sometimes difficult and time-consuming while patients and doctors await the diagnosis. The students learn how to investigate and interrogate results that they get so that they can give accurate and reliable results while observing all ethical protocols as registered student Medical Laboratory Scientists,” Biyela said.

Biyela said the students received scores and certificates for participating.

MUT Acting VC’s vision on internationalisation grows exponentially

Professor Marcus Ramogale, the Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal of MUT

MUT’s second International Week (I-Week) is an exemplar of a vision cascaded down and implemented. The I-Week was held physically at the Durban International Convention Centre, virtually on Microsoft Teams, and broadcast occasionally on MUT Radio from 21 to 24 November 2022.

In less than two years, with the support of Professor Marcus Ramogale, Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal of MUT, and the Acting DVC for Teaching and Learning, Dr Manyane Makua, the University has been able to host a successful I-Week.

“The success in this regard refers to the quality of the programme, presenters, universities attending and partners supporting the International Week. Kicking the week off with heavyweights in internationalisation, the I-Week exposed to all attendees that internationalization is the responsibility of every department. Internationalisation intersects across all spheres of a university and right into its community”, said Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at MUT who was tasked with developing and implementing the Internationalisation Strategy.

“Our agility as a department played a huge role and it was no easy task to bring together all 40 speakers, of which over a dozen were either across borders or spread across provinces. But we pulled it off. The spinoffs are great, and they range from knowledge management, alignment with the vision of our cities and the Republic, more understanding of the SDGs, government goals, and of course, our university,” Mkhize explained.

The Vice-Chancellor has committed to present this bigger picture at one of the strategic workshops early in the year.

For more on the MUT I-Week, visit https://www.mut.ac.za/internationalisation/i-week/.

MUT Acting VC hails the second I-Week

Professor Marcus Ramogale

It was more than fitting that the second MUT International Week was opened and closed by the Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal of MUT, Professor Marcus Ramogale, as it represents his internationalisation vision for the institution. But it was not to be for the opening address.

Professor Ramogale’s opening address, which was delivered by Dr Manyane Makua, Acting DVC for Teaching and Learning on its first day (21 November 2022),  emphasized the centrality of working together in search of higher knowledge by reminding the attendees of the place of universities in society. He said historically, universities were places that drew together people from different countries, to come and study together.

However, much has changed; the evolution of universities has not only been for the better. There are problems with that shift. One of these is working in silos. This was isolated and criticised severely by most presenters during the four-day discussions. Speakers called for collaborations at various levels, between universities.

Professor Ramogale reminded participants about the changes and possible changes in the higher education sector as a result of Covid-19.

“We start deliberations on our International Week being very cognisant of the impact of Covid-19 on creating new campuses which are more than a shadow of their former selves, with fewer staff members, fewer students, and fewer international students because many of the international students have opted for Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) and/or Internationalisation at Home (IAH). These are forms of internationalisation that would have been shocking during the medieval world. Trying times call for new inventions,” Professor Ramogale said.

I-Week delegates meet in Umlazi for further discussions

Professor Marcus Ramogale, at the head of the table, talking to some of the speakers and MUT staff

MUT I-Week delegates from the University of the Free State, University of KwaZulu-Natal, and the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, and MUT staff met the MUT Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Marcus Ramogale at Umlazi’s famous Max’s Lifestyle on the last day of gathering. This was a response to a presentation by Mr Andile Wafa, who encouraged a need for MUT to enhance the Township  economy and was appreciated by the delegates.

Professor Ramogale informed all of them of the University’s latest developments, which included plans for the future. Professor Ramogale said they had created an Institutional Advancement office because “we want to do more”.

Professor Ramogale said the success of the second International Week has made the university to seriously consider making the conference an annual activity in the university calendar.

“We will invite people to talk about international relations,” he said.

He explained that his vision of MUT was that of an institution at the centre of connecting nations. This envisaged position was supported by the Registrar, Dr Phumzile Masala, and the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Teaching and Learning, Dr Manyane Makua. Dr Masala said the type of collaboration  Professor Ramogale was talking about would go a long way in positioning the institution as a destination of choice for both local and international students.

Dr Makua highlighted the importance of partnerships, a point that was made by several speakers at the I-Week. Dr Makua said partnerships needed people who thought alike and have the same goals.

“Corporations are made up of people who have these qualities. They pull together their resources. Malls are built by people with like minds, which is why they are wealthy. You will never be wealthy if you work alone,” said Dr Makua.

Dr Makua added that the reason for most people’s failures is that they work in silos. He encouraged various institutions to work together to achieve more.

Dr Makua recently led a MUT delegation to France; MUT signed MoUs with two French institutions as a result of this visit.

MUT’s I-Week reignites stakeholder interest

eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality Head of Intergovernmental Relations, Eric Apelgren

Many presenters at MUT’s I-Week brought something of benefit to the University.  eThekwini Municipality has opened its doors to the University as was affirmed by the Speaker of the eThekwini Municipality, Councillor Thabani Nyawose as well as the Head of Intergovernmental Relations, Eric Apelgren.

Brand South Africa provided an in-depth perspective on how universities could use their resources to build equity in their internationalization efforts.

Universities also provided invaluable input ranging from the University of Venda, which MUT has a partnership with, the University of Pretoria, Appalachian State University (USA), ENSIIE (France), the University of the Free State, University of KwaZulu Natal, University of the Western Cape, the University of Zululand, and MUT, with the all Acting Deans of Faculties, Drs Xolile Mkhize, Fundiswa Nofemela and Mthokozisi Ntuli. Overall, stakeholders such as the National Research Foundation, Department of Higher Education and Training, Universities South Africa, DAAD, Alexander von Humboldt, US State Department and the French embassy, through its attaché, Dr Moncef Meddeb showed a strong affinity towards the trajectory that MUT has taken. In particular, Dr Moncef MEDDEB requested Bheki Hlophe to give him a MUT site visit.

“I was impressed by your university. Many collaborations are still to take place between my country and yours. I am humbled and overjoyed at the gains you made during the South Africa Higher Education Week in France. Please relay my gratitude to Dr Manyana Makua who led the delegation to France. That is what leadership is. You travel miles and miles to bring something in return,” said Dr MEDDEB. “I see many collaborations between our universities and us. I will be coming back early in the year to make a few announcements.”

MUT I-Week speakers call on universities to collaborate to achieve bigger objectives

Professor Mosa Moshabela, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, University of KwaZulu-Natal, was one of the speakers

Speaking at the MUT I-Week, renowned medical specialist and prolific researcher has called on universities across South Africa to collaborate to achieve bigger objectives instead of competing.

“We are wasting a lot of time squabbling for crumbs when in fact we should have bigger dreams and be organising to achieve them,” explained Professor Mosa Moshabela, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), who spoke in the first session of the four-day gathering.

Drawing on lessons from the recent South Africa Higher Education Summit held in France in June, Professor Moshabela said that universities abroad were growing their resources by collaborating and tackling problems as a group.

“Universities abroad are organising and we are lagging behind. In the way that they are organising, they are going to become more powerful. They are already powerful. But they’re going to become more powerful. Because we are still divided, we will not be able to negotiate with them,” explained Professor Moshabela.

He reminded the sector that local universities were not only competing with each other for talented staff and students but they were also competing with international institutions.

Furthermore, Professor Moshabela identified the massification of higher education, graduate unemployment, student protest, the societal impact of research and innovations, and funding as the key challenges that the South African higher education sector challenges. He explained that these challenges could be solved by partnering with industry and fellow universities.

He added that universities also needed to collaborate or involve communities at the onset of innovation. Even when it came to the country’s battle against HIV and AIDS, Professor Moshabela said all the success should be attributed to partnerships.

Professor Moshabela said the 21st century was the era of collaboration, which required a different kind of thinking for higher education leaders.

“What is most needed in this new era is a change in mindset among higher education leaders: they need to stop thinking that the only path forward is one that they take alone,” said Professor Moshabela.

NRF executive encourages universities to adopt an integrated approach to funding

NRF’s Dr Aldo Stroebel, Acting Group Executive for Strategy, Planning and Partnerships

An executive at the National Research Foundation (NRF) has encouraged universities to adopt an integrated approach when it comes to funding their research. Dr Aldo Stroebel, Acting Group Executive for Strategy, Planning and Partnerships, and substantive Executive Director for Strategic Partnerships at the NRF was speaking at the second MUT I-Week, help from 21-24 November 2022.

Dr Stroebel said it was important for universities to look at their areas of research and identify the key ones that they will pour their resources into and also establish partnerships to support those areas.

“Not every institution can be excellent in all areas that they support. A well-chosen internationalisation strategy is not just focusing on the internationalisation of students. It must very strongly include the internationalisation opportunities for staff. The impact on students is made by the staff,” explained Dr Stroebel.

He added that national research funding bodies across the world were reviewing their funding priorities and interrogating the contribution of various research projects to the public. Dr Stoebel said the NRF strengthened the country’s science and innovation through public resources, but there was a need for universities to form partnerships to strengthen their international competitiveness.

“The construct for internationalisation is strongly informed by postgraduate study and research,” said Dr Stroebel. “This emphasises the role of higher education in the science, technology and innovation landscape and the fundamental role of universities within the global knowledge system.”

Universities’ role in knowledge generation and advancement or technology advancement must be reflected through quality, he explained.

Dr Stroebel ended his session with a discussion on the challenging role that higher education is expected to play in society. He explained that although universities generated knowledge and train graduates, they are also expected to play the role of transforming society.

French Attaché calls for international partnerships to tackle common challenges

Dr Moncef MEDDEB, the Attaché for Science and Technology at the French Embassy

“Partnerships are important because, given the scale of the problems that we are facing and the global challenges that we are facing, no one can afford to work by themselves. We are doing the work in a redundant way.” These were the words of Dr Moncef MEDDEB, the Attaché for Science and Technology at the French Embassy in Pretoria, addressing participants on the second day of the MUT I-Week.

Dr MEDDEB, who is responsible for organising the South African and France Higher Education summit held in France in June, said the major task of higher education is that of tackling challenges to humanity itself. This was made clear by the Covid-19 pandemic, which found universities competing against each other.

“Universities worldwide were competing, somehow. It was a competition to be, you know, the best ones in the international rankings. I think that’s not relevant anymore. Now we are seriously facing something that is threatening not only one country or one university, it’s about the humanity itself. At the end of the day, we need to tackle the challenges that are threatening humanity,” explained Dr MEDDEB.

But Dr MEDDEB emphasised that although the challenges might have an international commonality, it was important to recognise the local elements.

“If we think about the international partners, we all need each other, the challenges are global but the solutions must be local and we need the local knowledge and the indigenous knowledge of all our communities worldwide,” confirmed Dr Meddeb.

eThekwini Municipality thanks MUT for helping communities

Thabani Nyawose, left, and Mbali Mkhize

Understanding the value of partnerships, and good neighbourliness, the University’s management introduced a concept of ‘anchoring’ within your community. This ‘anchoring’ is also a part of the University vision, ‘to be anchored in our communities’. This concept means having plans to grow together with your neighbours. In terms of the University’s intentions, this strategy opens the University to the general public and does away with the ivory tower mentality. As a follow through to its commitment to ‘grow’ with its neighbours, the University has been at the forefront when its immediate neighbours have been experiencing problems.

During the aftermath of the recent floods that ravaged Durban and other parts of KwaZulu-Natal, the MUT sourced, and distributed large food parcels to its students and members of the Umlazi Township community. While addressing the second I-Week, the Speaker of the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, Thabani Nyawose, thanked the University for coming to its neighbours’ aid when they needed help. “The University is the first one to offer help, even before the city. We thank MUT for that,” said Nyawose.

Responding to the comments made by the Speaker, Mbali Mkhize, the Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at MUT, said in all the societies she was aware of, helping a neighbour was an act of Godliness.

“Our neighbours around the University are people like us. We feel their pain and rejoice at their achievements. I must also hasten to add that the Gift of the Givers was God-sent to us. We only made contact with them once, and they gave us more than we expected. Now they call us to check if we need anything. It is a pleasure working with them,” said Mkhize.

Through its Department of Marketing and Communications, MUT sources food parcels from the Gift of the Givers and distributes them to students, staff and the general public in need. On top of that, Gift of the Givers has been instrumental in many initiatives which will be launched officially in January.

MUT I-Week creates a platform to discuss international opportunities

Some of the speakers, delegates and MUT staff at the event

Most presenters focused on how the higher education institutions should plan for the near future by creating ties with each other. The speakers highlighted the need for both students and staff to their counterparts beyond their institutions, and work on common issues, like same areas of research, in the case of staff, enrolling and studying common academic programmes, and possibly obtain join accreditation from more than one institution, in the case of students. However, that is what the future will look like.

What dominated discussions was creating ways for students to get to different places of study, to not only study academic programmes, but also study the local cultures, and sub-cultures, so that when they return to their country, they would have changed, and have a new perception of the world. There was a strong sense from presenters, like Professor Theo Davies, an Alexander von Humboldt scholar, that such an experience would go some way in dealing with social ills, like racism, xenophobia, gender-based violence, and others. Professor Davies, a Research Professor in the Faculty of Natural Sciences at MUT, gave a presentation on how students could benefit from opportunities from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He emphasized that the main requirement for a successful application to this scholarship was ‘excellence’.

Another speaker, Wendy Adams, Deputy Director of International Scholarships at the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) took participants through several opportunities that DHET offered for studying abroad. Adams presented both opportunities for Historically Disadvantaged Institutions, along with opportunities for students themselves. One of these programmes is the Erasmus + programme, which is linked to the European Union.

MUT acquires new car for students with disabilities

Khehla Ndlovu, showing how the hydraulic platform for the wheelchairs works

MUT continues to grow its fleet. This time, the new addition is that of a seven-seater combi, with a large space for students in wheelchairs. The Acting Transport Manager at MUT, Khehla Ndlovu, said this vehicle would give the required comfort to the said students, while at the same time giving more than enough passenger sitting and loading spaces.

“MUT has always been an inclusive institution, and the addition of this new car demonstrates the institution’s commitment to being a home to all,” said Ndlovu.

MUT celebrates as the Institutional Quality Audit comes to an end

MUT Executive Management Committee and the CHE team

The much-anticipated MUT Institutional Quality Audit (IQA)  conducted by the Council of Higher Education (CHE) has officially been wrapped up on a high note.

On Friday, 18 November 2022, the Executive Management Committee of MUT and the University’s selected stakeholders were invited to a high-level feedback session by the IQA team chaired by Professor Stephanie Burton. Professor Burton thanked all MUT staff members for all the efforts made in making the audit a success.

“We were impressed by the commitment and willingness of staff to engage with us and by the collegiality of the MUT executive. We will give deep and careful consideration to all the submissions made to consider a broad picture. We will make recommendations that are in the best interest of MUT,” she said.

In response, Professor Marcus Ramogale, Acting Vice-Chancellor & Principal of MUT thanked the panel for the wonderful feedback and showed appreciation for the external view.

“MUT will be an even better institution and we look forward to the full report. We will implement the recommendations accordingly as we believe in continuous improvement,” said Professor Ramogale.

By Friday you will be dead tired!

These were sentiments expressed in jest to the Quality Management Directorate (QMD) by the IQA team on their arrival on Monday. The team has managed the process for close to 18 months, ending with the actual programme that saw 40 sessions, of which 16 were face-to-face. On top of that, there were site visits that had to take place.

“It was an institutional quality project, and we are grateful for all the support, right from the cleaners up to the head of the University. I am grateful to the QMD team for rising to the occasion and to everyone who has participated in laying the foundation for this process to be finalised seamlessly,” said Dr Manyane Makua, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Teaching and Learning.

Dr Makua added that MUT was “looking forward to the final report from the audit panel”.

MUT to host the second edition of its International Week

Foreground, MUT Acting VC and Principal; background are Professor Hal Walker, and his wife, Dr Bettye Walker, from the USA, were part of last year’s International Week

The second edition of the MUT International Week is here.  From Monday, 21 to Thursday, 24 November 2022, MUT will host its International Week at Durban International Convention Centre. The University will once again use the opportunity to reflect on its internationalisation journey and explore future opportunities.

Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director: Marketing and Communications, explained: “The I-Week will host esteemed scholars, chief of parties, ambassadors, and professionals from the international offices across academia, government, and multi-lateral funding agencies to discuss pertinent issues in the internationalisation landscape.

Some of the issues to be discussed include: deconstructing lessons from South Africa’s Higher Education Week in France; understanding South Africa’s higher education landscape; navigating partnership challenges; laying a foundation for international study programmes;and international education opportunities. The conference is also an opportunity for participants to network with peers and funders.

Day 1 of this four-day conference includes sessions by Dr Phethiwe Matutu, Chief Executive Officer of Universities South Africa (USAf); Professor Mosa Mashabela, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN);  and Dr Aldo Stoebel, Acting Group Executive Strategy, Planning and Partnerships, and Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships at the National Research Foundation. The majority of sessions on Day 1 will focus on the role of universities in collaborating and creating partnerships to advance research and innovation.

Day 2 is dedicated to various aspects of internationalisation; including partnerships challenges and opportunities, exploring internationalisation policies, and education abroad programmes.

Entrepreneurship, internationalisation at home and collaborative international learning will be discussed on Day 3. Day 4 will focus on student opportunities in the internationalisation landscape, along with a discussion on cultural immersion for students participating in exchange programmes.

“Our programme presents a diversity of topics on internationalisation to provide as much information as possible for participants who want to branch into this exciting field,” said Mkhize. “We are expecting a larger delegation than what we had last year.”

The I-Week will also be available to join virtually. For more information, visit https://www.mut.ac.za/internationalisation/i-week/.

MUT’s Director of DIPR elected SAAIR president

Liile Lerato Lekena

“I am really humbled and take the responsibility and vote of confidence to lead an organisation such as the SAAIR [Southern African Association for Institutional Research], which has been in existence for the past 29 years very seriously.” This is how Liile Lerato Lekena, Director of the Directorate for Institutional Planning and Research (DIPR), responded when asked to comment about being elected as President of SAAIR.

As reported by Dr Mxolisi Masango, past President of the organisation, Lekena was elected on 16 November 2022 in Pretoria during the Annual General Meeting at the 29 SAAIR Conference. Communicating the news to the Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University, Professor Marcus Ramogale, Dr Masango said Lekena is now “officially” President of SAAIR until 2024.

SAAIR is a voluntary organisation which provides a forum for the interchange of ideas, experiences and best practices among those engaged in institutional research, including strategic planning, management information, and quality assurance at higher education institutions in South Africa.

Lekena said she was “grateful” for the opportunity and support she gets from the MUT Executive Management and her colleagues at the DIPR and fellow MUT staff members.

“Without the support and positive environment at MUT, I would not be able to discharge my duties, at MUT and for the SAAIR. I invite the MUT community to walk this journey with me as together we can do more,” said Lekena.

Lekena was Deputy President of the organisation from 2021 to 2022. She has been a member of SAAIR since 2011.  Her stay in the organisation continues to bear fruit for it. Lekena said she learnt a lot from the opportunities that the organisation has offered her over the years.

MUT prepares for new students to come in 2023

Enrolling to study at university can be a daunting task for a youngster who has just passed their grade 12 examination. The university is a very different environment compared to high school. Being aware of what the new students have to contend with, particularly at the beginning of the academic year, the First-Year Experience led by Arthi Ramrung from the Teaching and Learning Development Centre (TLDC), met on 9 and 10 November 2022, to plan for 2023.

Ramrung said the task team, which comprised representatives from Student Counselling, Housing, Campus Health Service, Sports,  the Registrar’s office, faculty representatives, the e-Learning division, the Department of Information Technology and Networks (IT&N), TLDC, Student Academic Advisors, Department of Marketing and Communications, Department of Co-operative Education, Financial Aid Office (FAO), and the First Year Experience (FYE) Coordinators, met to identify ways in which they could work together to provide a consolidated support system for the new students. Ramrung said that “as we break down silos that exist, the team has identified ways in which we can collaborate and focus our support on our new students”.

Ramrung said there were “exciting” new activities that were being developed to support the students. The year 2023 will see the launch of a few new exciting additions to the FYE programme,” she said. One of these new programmes is the Getting Prepared for Success (GPS) programme. Ramrung said the GPS is intended to be a draw card for all potential new students, “as we help prepare them for academic success at the university and beyond”. In 2022, one of the new events was the My MUT, My FYE student Expo. This event flows from the University’s general orientation as a means to allow students to become more aware, engaged, and actively involved in preparing for their academic journey. In addition, the FYE team has developed a webpage to inform both potential students and newly registered students about the team’s activities.

MUT to host SANABO Boxing tournament

Siyabulela Mkwalo

While the rest of South Africa will be under the festive season excitement spell, several youngsters will be looking to complete their year with wins at a boxing tournament to be held at MUT.

The University will host a South African National Boxing Organisation (SANABO) National CADET and Junior Boxing Championships from 11 to 16 December 2022. The Deputy Director of Sports at MUT, Siyabulela Mkwalo, said “this generation [of boxers] is the most critical segment of development since they serve as the feeder for youth and elite boxers. The current KZN-based Commonwealth Games 2022 female medallist, Phiwokuhle Mguni, and other elite boxers that are part of the current national team, were once part of this competition in their vertical development trajectory.”

Mkwalo added that the competition would afford boxers “intensive competition, national experience, massive exposure, and an opportunity to join the National Youth Team for international competitions”.

He said that junior boxers graduating from this competition progress to the youth level where they qualify to partake in international competitions.  In the end, they become elite boxers who compete in all types of international competitions, including the All-Africa Games, World Championships, and Olympic Games, among others. Mkwalo also said that the competition has also produced several coaches that are renowned worldwide.

The event will take place at the University’s iconic Seme Hall. “We are expecting 393 participants from all nine provinces in South Africa, with KwaZulu-Natal bringing more boxers than any other province,” said Mkwalo.

Altogether, KwaZulu-Natal will bring 65 participants – 13 boys for junior, 10 girls for junior, 16 CADET boys, and 14 CADET girls, along with 12 officials. The Eastern Cape and the Western Cape will bring 63 participants each.

Mkwalo added that they will allow members of the immediate community to come and watch the boxing event. Mkwalo, a Director on the African Boxing Confederation (AFBC) Board of Directors and President of SANABO, said they decided to focus on the younger group because it would be much easier for this group to learn the sport.

“As usual, sport is an opportunity to offer the youngsters something more meaningful, and that will have an immediate impact on their lives and their future,” said Mkwalo.

During the first planning session on 15 November 2022, Mkwalo said they were going to ensure that all security and health-related areas were taken care of, so the event would be a success.

“The emergency services, the South African Police Services (SAPS), the eThekwini Metropolitan Police, and the University Protection Services, will be on the scene to provide the necessary services to all the participants in the tournaments and guests,” said Mkwalo. He added that the SAPS and eThekwini Metro Police would ensure that all the surrounding roads were safe, particularly as the events of the day would end late in the evening.

Mkwalo said that among the various stakeholders they were expecting was the MEC for Sport and Recreation from KwaZulu-Natal, and senior officials from local, provincial and national Sports Departments and Confederations.

NEHAWU MUT branch elects new leadership

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU)  MUT branch has a new leadership. Regional Secretary, Prince Mthalane, said the new leadership was elected in their branch general meeting held on 8 November 2022 at the University. The new branch executive committee (BEC) is as follows: Lwazi Mthimkhulu was elected Chair; Phili Hlophe was elected as Deputy Chair; Linda Nzama retained his position as Secretary, while Samkelo Mrafa was elected as Deputy Secretary. Jabulani Ellenson was elected as Treasurer.

Additional members were elected. Simphiwe Ntuli was elected as the Bargaining Coordinator. Njabulo Xaba is the Skills Coordinator, while Banzi Shamase is the Paralegal Officer. Conrad Cele and Nikela Mchunu are responsible for Health and Safety. Zamokuhle Myeza and Khehla Ndlovu are responsible for HIV, Aids and Gender issues. Ndlelenhle  Jiyane and Thabo Ngcobo are responsible for organising. Mthalane said the term of office for all these shop stewards is four years.

MUT finalizes preparation as IQA is set to begin

The MUT staff that met to do the final preparations for the audit

Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) has been preparing for the Institutional Quality Audit (IQA) since the beginning of the year. The wait is almost over and MUT is ready to showcase its quality.

On Tuesday, 8 November 2022, the University’s extended leadership met at Elangeni Hotel for the Quality Management System and Audit Preparation Workshop to go through various aspects of the audit that MUT will be responding to during the 2022 IQA, which will take place from 14-18 November 2022.

Led by the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Dr Manyane Makua, the workshop featured presentations on the MUT Strategy (by Liile Lekena, Director: Strategic Planning at the Directorate of Institutional Planning and Research), the Evolution of MUT’s PQM and Academic Identity (by Professor Marcus Ramogale, Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal of MUT), Institutional profile and Re-costing of Academic Programmes (by David Bleazard, Acting Director at DIPR), and Quality Management Systems and Brief feedback from the Mock Audit (by Dr Suri Moodley, Director of the Quality Management Directorate).

The second batch of presentations focused on the actual standards that MUT responded to in its Self-Evaluation Report. Dr Bheka Ntshangase, Acting Dean of Management Sciences, led discussions on Focus Area 1,  Governance, strategic planning, management and leadership support for the core academic functions. Discussions on Focus Area 2, the Design and implementation of the institutional quality management system which supports the core academic system, were led by Professor Babatunde Bakare, the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Engineering. Professor Roger Coopoosamy, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, led discussions on Focus Area 3, Planning and processes which exist for the reasonable and functional allocation of resources to all components of the institutional quality management system. Dr Phiwayinkosi Gumede, Acting Senior Director: TLDC presented on Focus Area 4, Curriculum development, learning and teaching support for the likelihood of student success.

The resounding outcome of the workshop from the participants was that MUT was ready for the IQA.

The auditors from the Council on Higher Education will visit MUT from 14-18 November to conduct the audit. In addition to interviewing staff members, they will also interview students.

For more on the IQA, visit www.mut.ac.za/qmd.

MUT public lecture on ethics empowers researchers

Professor Theo Davies giving a lecture of ethics

For now, the University defines itself as a research-informed institution. This is largely because of its background; it was founded as a training institution. However, since 2007 when the University changed from being a technikon and became a university of technology, it has made huge strides towards growing its research output. This effort has seen the institution get recognition from the National Research Foundation.

To ensure that University staff continue ethically conducting research and that the new and aspiring researchers get off on the right footing, the Research Professor in the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Professor Theo Davies, presented a public lecture on ethics on 4 November 2022. Professor Davies’ topic was: “The Nature and Application of Professional Ethics in Scientific Research and Fieldwork in Africa: Particular Reference to the Geosciences”.

Professor Davies, an Alexander von Humboldt scholar, argued that “worldwide interest in professional ethics in academia, including in the basic and applied sciences, has grown dramatically in the last decade; and recent research has confirmed that the geoscience profession, in particular, considers ethics to be of prime importance for all its practitioners”.  Professor Davies said in academia it is of special concern in the scholarly publishing industry, in project formulation, execution and management, and in fieldwork situations.

During this virtual presentation, Professor Davies listed the following as some areas  that researchers need to be careful of when conducting their enquiries: conflict of interest, stolen projects, data manipulation, plagiarism, poor mentorship, examination malpractice, peer review, disrespect for colleagues and senior academics, and informed consent.  Professor Davies said researchers must use the available and approved principles as a guide when they are doing their enquiries. These principles must clearly state how they need to deal with their subjects. Professor Davies called these principles “codes of ethics”, which he defined as “formal statements that set forth standards of ethical behaviour for members of a specific group”. He pointed out that there is a need for researchers to subscribe to this code of conduct, a commitment that makes them professionals.

Professor Davies further highlighted informed consent as “a founding principle of ethics”. In terms of this principle, human subjects must be informed of their rights when they participate in research and be given all the information they need to know about the research. They are free to be part of the research, and they can decide to leave or stop participating at any time.

Where animals are used as subjects of enquiry, Professor Davies recommended that researchers carefully consider the reduction of the animals used; the refinement of techniques and procedures to reduce pain and distress, and the replacement of conscious living animals with insentient material.

Professor Davies said that anyone who plans to use animals in research or teaching, must be familiar with the relevant regulations and the guide, and must receive appropriate training before beginning work.

 

MUT Nature Conservation students pitch their business ideas

Refiloe Ntoi, sixth from right, with the students that pitched their business ideas. Note winners, Amanda Mpungose, fifth from right, and Ngcebo Thwala, left

When the third-year Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) Bachelor of Applied Sciences in Nature Conservation students graduate, they will have more than their counterparts with the same qualification: they will have the skills to start and run a business.

On 10 November 2022, these students pitched their business plans to three judges as part of efforts by the University to integrate entrepreneurship into the curriculum.

A Lecturer in the Department of Nature Conservation, Refiloe Ntoi, said the purpose of this event was to inculcate students with entrepreneurial and business management skills. Ntoi said that entrepreneurship was becoming an important domain across all disciplines.

“It has become mandatory to include entrepreneurship in the academic curriculum so that students acquire skills beyond their mainstream qualifications to respond to the harsh unemployment state of the country. It is even more important to encourage students to embrace innovation that is rooted in environmental sustainability, what we sometimes call ecological entrepreneurship or green entrepreneurship,” explained Refiloe.

Ntoi was impressed by the ideas that were put forward by the 12 students when they pitched their businesses to the judges. The students talked about their business intentions and responded to questions from the judges.

Ntoi said the pitching session was a “huge success and students are in a process of registering their business plans with the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA). She added that the students presented various business ideas, and that; “some included running a construction company that is rooted in the principles of environmental sustainability”.

Amanda Mpungose said that it was important that architects and investors embrace ecological entrepreneurship, particularly during the current times when the world needs to respond accordingly to the threats of climate change.

Ngcebo Thwala presented a business idea that would include running an environmentally friendly fitness centre that requires minimal water and energy to be consumed in the gym by installing water-saving and energy-efficient machinery.

The judges nominated Amanda as the first winner and Ngcebo as the second winner.

CEAD prepares for NRF Conference on History of Umlazi

The committee that met to prepare for the conference

Every individual who has recorded the existence of humanity, and its history, has achieved at least one goal: that people were living at a certain point in time, at a particular location, and led a particular lifestyle that made them different from any other people. In some cases, writing history becomes a corrective exercise to change the existing narrative that could be misinformed or written from second and third accounts. This is what the politics of gathering and writing history is about.

At MUT, a group of staff members have come together to gather and write the history of Umlazi Township, where Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) is located.

Addressing the team that assembled on 9 November 2022 at the University, Professor Busisiwe Nkonki-Mandleni, Director: Community Engagement and Development said they were preparing for a hybrid conference that would be held from 6 to 9 December 2022.

The  goals of the conference include “building a network of collaboration and partnerships with all relevant local, provincial, national African and worldwide communities in the quest to recover a lost history, and to reflect the importance of restoration, and transforming and enhancing ways of conduct research with an Afrocentric paradigm and methodologies taking centre stage in African scholarship”.

Among the individuals that attended the meeting were those who are knowledgeable about the township’s origin, and the early years of the University. These individuals have been identified as some of the primary sources of knowledge when the information-gathering exercise starts.

Professor Nkonki-Mandleni said they aimed to write a comprehensive history of the township, from the perspective of those who know it better – they may have been part of the history – or can associate with it in the manner that convinces the writers that they are the correct people to contribute to the narrative.

Professor Nkonki-Mandleni said that was what they would share at the conference, guided by the conference theme,  ‘Engaging the World through the African Perspective’.

The team, which henceforth is now considered a committee, deliberated on the approach to the conference. In the end, they agreed that they would focus on a few, but important areas, and then allocate resources to achieve their intentions.

The areas of focus would be: the early history of Umlazi Township; education; health and lifestyle; economy, and culture. In some cases, the committee has identified individuals who will give a narration on some of these areas. One of these will be an induna (chief) in the Cele clan. The Cele chieftaincy presides over the area where Umlazi Township is located. The Cele tribe is now living in Ngonyameni, on the west of the township.

Professor Nkonki-Mandleni said they have already allocated duties to members of the committee to assemble and prepare material that will be required during the conference.