Professor Marcus Ramogale receives an award for remarkable progress in Entrepreneurship

Professor Ramogale

An award was bestowed on Professor Marcus Ramogale, Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) at the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity finals last Friday, for the progress that MUT had made in advancing entrepreneurship.

“Humbled and honoured” by this acknowledgement, Professor Ramogale said MUT’s entrepreneurial strides started when their Senate approved the University’s core curriculum as part of its distinct identity in 2015. “That included entrepreneurship education. Being a university of technology, we felt that we would distinguish ourselves if we developed in every graduate, some entrepreneurship skills. For me what has been even more remarkable is the way students have taken to this idea.  When you tell them that there are options in the world, and that not all of us will be employees, I see remarkable reception among them. And this has really been an impetus behind the progress we’ve made.” He said MUT students go through a gruelling course in entrepreneurship.  Those who develop a keener interest can go on to an advanced course and create their own businesses.

“Our message to students all the time is that there may be no jobs in our country. But there is a lot of work, if we conceive of work as being opportunities to solve problems.  There are so many problems within our country that if students begin to look for work, not jobs, I’m sure the problem of unemployment would be solved.”  He added that that requires a change of mindset, and that students be taught differently.

“All of us come from families which say that you have to go to school, get a good education and get a good job. So we have to change that narrative and make students aware that there are other options. We’re very pleased that MUT students are already taking this message to heart.  I thank my colleagues at MUT, for all their support – particular Dr B Ntshangase, Dean of our Faculty of Management Sciences, who nominated me for this award.  I also want to thank the colleagues within EDHE, the DHET and USAf.”

The final institutional winner announced at the Intervarsity finals was Goldfields TVET college, which was recognised for the best institutional contribution to the Student Entrepreneurship Week 2020 event during early November.

The EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity finals were a culmination of what has been building up from the first quarter of 2020, at all 26 public universities. The Intervarsity is one of EDHE’s three annual flagship programmes alongside the annual EDHE Lekgotla and the annual Student Entrepreneurship Week. The EDHE programme, a partnership between the Department of Higher Education and Training and Universities South Africa, is funded mainly from the DHET’s University Capacity Development Programme.

  • The story was written by Mateboho Green, Manager: Corporate Communication at Universities South Africa, where the article was original published.

MUT reaffirms its stand against GBV and sexual assault as 16 Days of Activism campaign starts  

Dr Makua

This week, the University intensified its campaign to root-out Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and sexual assault within the institution in line with the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children.

Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Dr Manyane Makua, kicked-off this week’s campaign with a pledge to “take action against all reported cases of unwanted sexual advances, sexual assault, harassment and rape”. The pledge is part of the University management’s continued efforts to rid the university of any acts of GBV, sexual harassment and sexual assault. This pledge also reiterates Senate’s concerns about GBV; a year after taking a stand against GBV and making public statements on this stand.

In his pledge, Dr Makua said: “I commit myself to follow through on all cases brought forward and vow to protect those who report such cases. I call upon MUT men to come forward and take the pledge.”

Dr Makua also used the opportunity to remind the University community that “ignoring the problem only perpetuates it”.

To take the pledge, contact Melody Kuboni (kuboni.melody@mut.ac.za).

Student Counselling observes the start of 16 Days of Activism campaign

Students taking the message to the residences off campus

As a response to the continued violence directed towards women and children, and also as a way of heeding a national call against Gender-Based Violence and the Senate stand on GBV, the Student Counselling unit began commemorating the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign by spreading the message of zero-tolerance for GBV at MUT on 13 November 2020. The unit’s peer helpers continued raising awareness on GBV by distributing posters in all student residences, as well as engaging students on the issue of GBV.

Dr Paulette Naidoo, Director of the Student Counselling unit, pointed out that despite continued efforts to raise awareness on GBV on campus and residences, an attitude of indifference and denial that GBV exists is still evident among some sectors. Dr Naidoo pointed out the rather alarming figures that are a clear indication of how big the problem is. She said that “according to Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, a total of 167 970 calls were have been received by the national Gender-based Violence (GBV) command call centre since March 2020.  This highlights the gravity of the problem and the need to intensify efforts to eradicate this problem in all sectors”.

According to Dr Naidoo, “such attitudes are counterproductive; they serve to perpetuate the problem of GBV.” However, Dr Naidoo added that she was undeterred by such attitudes and that “the Student Counselling unit and MUT as a whole, would continue unrelenting, in its fight against GBV.”

You can report acts of GBV by contacting the GBV Command Centre: 0800 428 428 / * 120 *7867 from any cell phone.

MUT Engineering alumna and Eskom employee pursue further studies in Japan

Nomvelo Nzimande

Nomvelo Nzimande, the 2011 best student in the Faculty of Engineering, has taken a break from her daily duties at Eskom to further her studies in Japan. She began her Master’s in Electrical Engineering in October at Kogakuin University of Technology and Engineering, in Tokyo, Japan. At present, Nomvelo is doing the coursework and will fly out of the country on 14 January 2021 for lectures in Japan.

Nomvelo said: “I believe that studying in Japan will equip me with knowledge and skills that I can contribute towards the development of Photovoltaic power plants in South Africa since our country is planning to introduce more renewable energy power plants into the grid.”

Nomvelo’s studies are funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). “Eskom has partnered with JICA. Eskom will pay for flight tickets for visiting home once a year. Eskom granted me the opportunity to do my Master’s full time in Japan. The rest of the expenses are paid by JICA,” said Nomvelo. “In April 2023 I will do an internship for six months in one of the companies in Japan,” said Nomvelo. She will come back home in October 2023.

Her career at Eskom has been defined by one promotion after another. From the time she joined Eskom in February 2012, Nomvelo has been promoted three times. Nomvelo, started-off as a progress monitor in the outage department.

“In August 2014 I was promoted to being an Outage Project Coordinator,” said Nomvelo.

Three years later, in November, Nomvelo was again promoted to Senior Advisor Outage Coordination. In six months Nomvelo joined the construction department as a Project Manager for C&I Construction for the Kusile Power Station project in Mpumalanga Province. In November 2019 Nomvelo was again promoted to being a Construction Manager for a boiler plant. Nomvelo’s current position is Boiler Construction Manager. This is another feather in the cap for the Department of Electrical Engineering.

MUT Convocation holds an AGM

Sandile Dlamini

The Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) Convocation Executive (CONVEXCO) that was elected on 7 December 2019, will host its first annual general meeting (AGM) on 28 November 2020 at the University’s Pixley Seme Hall. CONVEXCO will use the meeting to report on what they have been able to do in the last 12 months. Sandile Dlamini, President of the MUT Convocation said they have managed to achieve a few things, despite the hardships imposed upon them by the Coronavirus regulations and protocols. “We set out to achieve a number of things when we started off last year. For instance, we wanted to connect with strategic people who would assist us with the generation of third stream income which is needed particularly for students that cannot afford fees required by the University. Such funds would also assist students that are studying towards their advanced diplomas. These students do not receive government support in the form of NSFAS funding,” said Sandile. Last year the newly elected Convocation Executive also said they would assist by sourcing funds to make it possible for the University to deal with historic debt.

According to Sandile, all these plans came to a sudden halt as a result of the national Lockdown. However, Sandile said their plans were still on track. He said at the beginning of the year they were able to meet some of the most strategic leaders and talked to them about their plans to assist the University with funds. “On 10 March 2020, we met the Founder of the University, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi in Ulundi. Prince Buthelezi was very happy to hear about our plans,” said Sandile. On the same week CONVEXCO met Mr Willies Mchunu, the former Premier of KwaZulu-Natal. Both meetings yielded positive results.

Sandile said the alumni database had been of great help. He said they used the database to connect with many former students. “Some of these alumni are in serious business, and they will be attending the AGM,” said Sandile. Sandile said they were hopeful that these former students would contribute in their goal of assisting the University with a third stream income.

Sandile also added that they wanted to use the AGM to strengthen the bonds between the former students.

“This CONVEXCO has taken an initiate to resuscitate relations with all our alumni, employed, unemployed, and those who are in business,” said Sandile.

First semester saved, now soldiering onto the end of February!

Professor Ramogale

“There was a time when things looked bleak and we needed to put our heads together on how best we could save both the academic year and lives. Together, we came up with innovative ideas on how we could save the academic year and save lives. I am grateful to all of you for having walked with you during this turbulent period and I am now looking forward to how we could keep the same spirit and robustness to continue our attempts as saving the academic year ending in February 2021,” said Professor Marcus Ramogale, Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal, as he opened the second Senate meeting to be held online as a result of the COVID-19 protocols.

Professor Ramogale also encouraged Senate to take pride in what has been achieved, particularly with adapting to the platoon system coupled with blended learning. This is an achievement that has even been noticed by DHET, which had originally put MUT in the high risk universities category given that not many students have laptops. MUT is not in the high risk category.

“I appeal to everyone in the second semester to work as hard as we can, especially with so many holidays. Let us use every day to ensure that our students are taught optimally. Stay on course as MUT leadership. I am confident that we will make it in the second semester,” said Professor Ramogale.

Improved mid-term pass rates as MUT starts second semester

Dr Makua

MUT has recorded an improvement in its mid-year student pass rate compared to last year at a similar period despite having to adopt a hybrid teaching and learning strategy necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is according to the preliminary results presented by Dr Manyane Makua, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, to Senate as he reflected on the state of teaching and learning at MUT.

“There are many challenges that we confronted but we were successfully able to deal with them. I am glad to say that together we were able to deal with these challenges,” said Dr Makua. “Our response to challenges says a lot about our ability to complete the academic year.”

Dr Makua explained that though MUT was on course to complete the 2020 academic year, there were still many challenges which the Institution had to overcome. In terms of teaching and learning engagements, Dr Makua pointed out that success in this area depended on availability of gadgets for both staff and students, availability of learning material (online and printed), capacity development of academics in alternative pedagogies, and data for students and staff in order to engage in online learning. Assessment and quality assurance of assessment will also play a significant role in measuring the output.

So far, the University has been successful in rolling out laptops to staff but student devices have not yet been delivered. Learning materials were made available to students in printed and online formats.  There are still a number of academic staff who require training in using multimodal platforms for teaching and learning. Data for staff and students continue to be made available.

Going forward, MUT needed to enhance its assessment strategies and also enhance online teaching and learning, Dr Makua explained.

Speaking after Dr Makua’s presentation; Professor Marcus Ramogale, Acting Vice-Chancellor said: “We have to accept that our approach to teaching and learning has to be hybrid. I see this presentation as more of a transition that we are moving from one dispensation to another and there are indeed challenges.”

Prof Ramogale added that the COVID-19 pandemic “forced us into a future we have been talking about and we are moving there slowly”.

Nature Conservation’s CAB holds a workshop with Austrian university

Dr Anusha Rajkaran, second from left, leading a discussion on the estuary. Professor Anandraj is sixth from the left. Next to him, is Professor Alfred Msomi, seventh, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences. Others are members of staff and students

The Department of Nature Conservation keeps raising the bar higher. This week, the department became the first department in the University to have a bilateral meeting with another university. On 17-19 November 2020, members of the department, together with Dr Anusha Rajkaran, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology at the University of the Western Cape, met virtually with their counterparts from Austria’s University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in a secluded venue in the south of Durban. Professor Akash Anandraj, the Director of the Centre for Algae Biotechnology (CAB) that hosted the workshop, said the issues they discussed also included creating partnerships with both national and international like-minded organisations.

Professor Anandraj said they, together with their partners, were on a mission to harness technology for the benefit of humanity. For instance, the workshop served as the first meeting to launch a pilot study, using micro algae to form part of a medical patch that will be used in Austria for healing wounds. The patch was developed by Prof Gibson Stephen Nyanhongo from BOKU. CAB will contribute to providing algae species that will help heal wounds, especially after surgery. “This is a biological treatment for patients recovering from surgery, burns, and other skin conditions. The main ingredient from algae was phycocyanin. This proved to be a unique approach to treating and healing wounds,” said Professor Anandraj.

Professor Anandraj also said that they used the workshop to give an update on the activities of CAB. For instance, CAB has conducted extensive research that has resulted in the publication of numerous academic papers in reputable journals. Scientists working in the centre are being cited world-wide by researchers that publish in equally reputable journals. But publishing the articles is not enough for Professor Anandraj, an award-winning researcher. “We have risen above the norms of the University. Our research benefits the wider society,” said Professor Anandraj. He added that the workshop provided a staff with research opportunities and information on funding.

The workshop also gave some Department of Nature Conservation students an opportunity to physically experience what it was like to do research. The students were part of a trip to the estuary of the Msimbazi river.  The estuary research trip was led by Trevor Govender, a Lecturer in the Department of Nature Conservation, and Dr Rajkaran.

Human Resources professor elected to the provincial sport body

Professor Naidoo, standing, second from left, with other members of the Confederation

Professor Logan Naidoo of the Department of Human Resources and Management is now a Member of the Executive of the KwaZulu-Natal Sport Confederation (KZNSC). Professor Naidoo, a veteran sport administrator who was once a manager of the country’s national cricket team, the Proteas; was elected to this position on 14 November 2020. Professor Naidoo said he believed he was elected because of his extensive experience in sport. “I have been serving sport from the early 1980s. I guess it is this experience (40 odd years) in the sports environment that has placed me in a situation in which the sporting fraternity still believes I have a contribution to make.” Professor Naidoo has just finished a four-year term with KZNSC. “My links with athletics and cricket at provincial, national and international levels has provided me with the knowledge that can be deemed to be beneficial to any organisation that seeks to have me within its Executive,” said Professor Naidoo.

The KZNSC is the umbrella body for over 50 sport codes. The organisation’s responsibilities include giving residents of KwaZulu-Natal equal opportunities in sport both at grassroots and adult level. KZNSC also has to ensure that various sporting federations abide by good corporate governance in the administration of sport.

Professor Naidoo said MUT “desperately needs the sporting minds to come together in addressing the challenges that our existence brings”.

Head of Marketing elected Senate Rep to Council

Mr Gona Govender

The University’s first online voting was facilitated by the Office of the Registrar. This was the first for MUT and may become the new normal with Microsoft Teams meetings gaining popularity by the day. Gona Govender, Head of Department of Marketing, became the first candidate to be voted in using an online voting system. Responding to the election, Gona, said to Senate members: “As your newly elected Senate rep to Council, I will endeavour to ensure that the academic project that is under the purview of Senate will be given its rightful place as a priority on the agenda of Council. Let me take this opportunity to thank all the colleagues in Senate who have placed their trust in me to look after the interests of this august body at the university’s highest governance structure.” Professor Ramogale, Acting Vice-Chancellor congratulated Gona.

More PhDs for MUT staff – Acting Vice-Chancellor tells Senate

Professor Ramogale

At a Senate meeting held on 19 November 2020, Professor Marcus Ramogale, Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal of MUT affectionately announced that the following staff members have completed their PhDs: Eric Bonginkosi Mthembu, Community Extension (HoD); Kevin Ramsarghey, Accounting and Law (HoD); and Thembi Kweyama, Dean of Students.  Congratulating all three members of Senate, Prof Ramogale expressed his joy and pride in these achievements. Other staff members that have completed their PhDs include Xoli Mkhize, Community Extension (Senior Lecturer); and Archie Buthelezi, Environmental Health (Senior Lecturer).

Second semester registration draws to a close

Mike Naidoo, MUT Registrar

The academic year is set to continue next week as registration draws to a close this week. So far, 5430 students have registered for the second semester, which brings the total number of registered students to 15200. This number is inclusive of annual students.

MUT Registrar, Mike Naidoo, said all outstanding first semester examination results were finalised on Monday, 9 November 2020 paving the way for students to register for their second semester.

Meanwhile, lectures continue in the Faculty of Management Sciences.

Department of Accounting and Law gives final-year students workplace simulation

From left – M Oree from industry;  fifth, Ranisha;   last, Rivaash;  and some Accounting students

Being aware of a gap that exists between theory and the practical part in the Accounting profession, two staff members in the Department of Accounting and Law organised a session where 85 final-year students were taken through the necessary paces.

Rivaash Kalidin, a Chartered Accountant and Registered Auditor, and Ranisha Narain, also a Chartered Accountant, had identified that the students lacked presentation skills, and needed to improve inthese skills. These skills are required in the industry. “We also wanted the students to have a feel of what happens in the world of work,” said Rivaash.

Rivaash said that they were aware that students in this profession do not have work integrated opportunities, yet the practical experience is what makes or breaks a graduate. “We want to give our students a realist approach of what they can expect in the sector. We don’t want them to get a rude awakening! I am talking from experience,” Rivaash said.

Rivaash emphasised the need for students to have the basic requirements of the profession, such as the appropriate personality, and also being able to deal with the essentials of the profession. The fact that the meeting took place on Saturday, 7 November 2020, was a strong suggestion to the students that they needed to think outside the 08h00 to 16h00 parameter, said Rivaash.

“Students generally lack confidence in presenting and this gave them the opportunity to do so in a controlled and safe environment. After completing their studies, students enter the public sector, not having had any practical skills with the subject matter,” said Rivaash.

The 85 final year students were also made aware of the importance of effective time management and workflow. “Prioritising is something that students also lack when they enter employment. By mastering this aspect of their life students will see a great improvement to their work-life balance, which in turn, can make them even more productive,” said Rivaash.

The session also gave students an opportunity to showcase their ability to apply analytical skills, as well as their critical thinking ability. “These skills will allow them to visualise problems and see possible solutions to problems that may not be immediately obvious to everyone else,” said Rivaash. Rivaash added that they were going to have this meeting every year, and that the connection with industry will create possibilities for the Work Integrated Learning for their students.

Student Counselling Unit empowers students with disabilities

These are some of the disabilities that some of our students have

MUT prides itself for enabling students from all works of life to attain a university qualification. It is this commitment to making the university accessible to all that drives MUT’s agenda to become a diverse campus. Like in the past few years, the Student Counselling Unit pitched a tent on the Anniversary Lane to make new students aware that the unit is proactively looking for new students with disabilities to provide assistance and support as they start their academic journey at MUT.

The tent is manned by returning students, who are peer helpers. Peer helpers give new students with disabilities the necessary information, and assist them with registration matters. For instance, they take them to the registration stations, and help them obtain the green cards which are specifically for students with disabilities. The peer helpers also assist students that return from university recess with temporal disabilities. For instance, some would have limb fractures after injuries. The peer helpers also diarize cases of interest and keep statistics for the day.

Lindiwe Chamane, one of the MUT Student Counsellors, said that besides the assistance they give to students with disabilities, they also empower staff with knowledge so that they are able to understand the nature of the students’ disabilities, and how to assist them. “We advocate on disability-related issues, and advise on academic and residential adjustments, among other things,” said Lindiwe.

Lindiwe said the biggest challenge which students with disabilities encounter is that the University infrastructure is not designed for the students with disabilities. Lindiwe said the message is heeded; there are lecturers that are working with them in assisting students with disabilities. And some ofthese students agree with Lindiwe. Scelo Gumede, anS4 Electrical Engineering student, said he appreciated the fact that some lecturers do understand their situation and give them more time to do their work, such as practicals, examinations.

The unit’s does its best to see to it that the students with disabilities are taken care, even after graduating.

More benches for students on main campus

More benches for the students

A social university environment makes for happy students. The same is true for MUT students. Very soon University students on main campus will be using additional sitting space. Lindo Mzolo, infrastructure project co-ordinator, said the beautiful light green tubular benches were part of the on-going campus beautification project. MUT students have an additional space to hang around on campus and socialize with their peers. Lindo, added that they would soon be installing new lockers for students. “The students will now have places where they can safely keep their belongings,” said Lindo. The students have to carry heavy books and laptops; they are not allowed to bring bags into the library.

MUT surpasses the 100 journal articles’ mark for 2020

Dr Mienie, seated, right, with other members of the directorate: Shirley Fraser, also seated; and standing, from left – Sindi Ngongoma, Sifiso Qwabe, and Nompumelelo Zulu

MUT has made history. For the first time in the history of the institution, the University has published over 100 journal articles even before this year ends. A very excited Dr Anette Mienie, Director of the Research directorate, said she had a good story to tell. It was a journey that the Institution has travelled over the years, and it reflected enormous growth in the University’s research. MUT has already submitted more than 100 journal articles to the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). This is a source of great excitement for Dr Mienie who has been leading the directorate since 2001.

“I remember submitting one accredited journal article from MUT to DHET in 2001.  It is not even the end of the year and we have already received 112 accredited journal articles published during 2020. This is so very exciting and I cannot be more proud of our researchers,” said Dr Mienie. There will be four added late submissions from 2019.  Dr Mienie said it is the first time that the University crossed the 100 journal articles’ mark. Last year the University submitted 74 accredited research papers, said Dr Mienie.

Dr Mienie emphasized that the role played by members of the directorate was paramount to this growth. For instance, she said, Sifiso Qwabe from the Research Directorate used to be in the office even during the stricter Lockdown levels to ensure that the necessary documents were submitted to the Department of Finance on time. Also, Shirley Fraser from the Research Directorate developed an interactive electronic fund transfer requisition, and the expenditure claim forms in which the researchers could type., This facilitated efficient work flows between all concerned parties.

The increase in research output is also a result of researchers having more time to work on their research during the Lockdown.

Community Extension students take part in an international food summit

Xoli, standing, and the students taking part in the summit online

At least six Department of Community Extension students were part of an international summit that discussed food safety during the Covid-19 pandemic. The summit, which took place on 3 November 2020, put a spot light on food security. Participants from various organisations that deal with food conducted presentations on food safety during the Covid-19 pandemic. The participants from MUT, Lindelani Ndawule, Zinhle Khumalo, Nonhlanhla Vezi, Sinethemba Miya, all Advanced Diploma in Community Extension students; Londiwe Zondi, an intern in the department; and Nobathwa Ndobe, a graduate with an Advanced Diploma in Agricultural Extension and Community Development, have learnt about the advanced system of ensuring food safety in developed countries.

Nobathwa pointed out that the unintended outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic on food safety is that people are now forced to improve hygiene when handling food. Nonhlanhla observed that the food business now has to re-adjust how they deal with food products, “in terms of packaging, processing, marketing and distribution, as well as the production schedules”.  Sinethemba said she learnt about measures which the food industry is using to mitigate food insecurity in spite of the pandemic. Sinethemba said she also learnt that there was not a lot of food wasted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Xolile Mkhize, senior lecturer in the department, said the summit offered students a chance to look at what they are studying holistically. “The presenters at the summit are international experts in food safety. They talked about food across various disciplines,” said Xolile. The presenters were from industry, law, government, international agencies such as the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, and public health. Xolile said the students got to understand the value of what they are studying. The students now understand the impact of Covid-19 across the whole value chain, and the trends of food security, or lack thereof, said Xolile.  The summit also discussed food safety risks in relation to COVID-19.

Mask-up and social distance or face the music

Lizwi Masondo, right, with the marshals

This week, MUT COVID-19 marshals have been hard at work enforcing the wearing of masks and observing the social distancing protocols. This is another initiative by MUT to highlight the seriousness with which the institution treats COVID-19. It comes at a time where South Africa is seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 infections and there are fears that universities could become epicentres.

The role of the marshals is to patrol the campus and enforce compliance and adherence to the COVID-19 regulations, mainly social distancing and wearing of masks on campus, said Lizwi Masondo, MUT’s COVID-19 Compliance Officer. The four marshals, have been instrumental in reminding both staff and students that non-compliance with COVID-19 is also a breach of University regulations and that non-compliers could be taken for disciplinary hearings.

South African students need to treat health issues as a matter of urgency – Higher Health CEO

Dr Ahluwalia, seated, left; and Professor Marcus Ramogale, MUT Acting VC, seated right; and other participants in the meeting

Addressing about 100 student leaders from the country’s 26 universities, Dr Ramneek Ahluwalia, CEO of Higher Health, impressed upon student leaders the necessity and urgency with which they must treat health-related issues that are effecting students in the higher education institutions.

Dr Ahluwalia was speaking at the South African Union of Students meeting hosted by MUT in Durban on 30 and 31 October. He drew student leaders’ attention to the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasising the need for everyone to heed the applicable protocols to keep safe. Dr Ahluwalia strongly appealed to student leaders to show leadership in the fight against the disease. We are still losing students as a result of the disease, he said. “When you are back at your campuses, let us all comply with the rules so we don’t spread the disease. We are all potential carriers of the disease,” he said.

Dr Ahluwalia said his organisation had 10 mobile clinics that would serve mainly the rural universities where they are needed the most. The mobile clinics will take care of most health-related problems that are prevalent at South African universities. “My vision is that a student does not have walk long distances to get help. The mobile clinics should bring medication to campuses,” said Dr Ahluwalia.  Students can call a toll-free number 0800363636, if they have any health-related issues.

Management Sciences staff obtains a PhD

Dr Duma

Thulile Duma, a Lecturer in the Department of Human Resources and Management has just been awarded a PhD in Human Resources. Dr Duma’s study was on how students with disabilities cope. She conducted her studies at MUT and the Durban University of Technology. Dr Duma discovered that students with disabilities did not want to be pitied or given special treatment because of their disabilities. “They just want to be treated like the other students. I also discovered that students with disabilities have the same aspirations as the other students,” said Dr Duma.  The study also found that students with disabilities have a strong self-confidence and resilience, Dr Duma said.

Dr Duma’s study can also be used by higher education institutions to inform their infrastructural planning. Such planning will be part of what Dr Duma has described as “Inclusive education”, which is “important as no student need to be left behind”. Dr Duma commented that in general, Universities were not built with students with disabilities in mind. A lot still needs to be done to make our institutions friendly for students with disabilities, said Dr Duma.

Dr Duma read for her PhD at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Forensic investigation exonerates Council Chairperson

Mr Morailane Morailane

The Council of Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) has re-instated its chairperson, Mr Morailane Morailane after he was exonerated of any wrongdoing through a Council-commissioned forensic investigation by SNG-Thornton. The final report of the investigation was tabled at the virtual meeting of the University Council held through Microsoft Teams on 23 October 2020. Council adopted the report after deliberation.

In a statement to the MUT community, Interim Chairperson Dr Zethu Qunta informed the University community of Council’s resolution that it “should invite back to Council, members of Council, such as the Chairperson of Council, whom the SNG-Thornton report has exonerated”. The investigation was commissioned to probe alleged corruption and irregularities at the University.

Dr Qunta’s statement also added that the Acting Vice-Chancellor & Principal, Professor Marcus Ramogale will continue in his acting capacity. “The university community and all stakeholders are requested to give the Acting Vice-Chancellor and his management team maximum support as they execute their duties and responsibilities,” said Dr Qunta.

Acting VC expresses gratitude to staff as first semester ends

Professor Ramogale

Professor Marcus Ramogale, Acting Vice-Chancellor & Principal of MUT expressed gratitude to staff for their contribution as he announced the official end to the first semester after the country went under Lockdown.

In his email, Prof Ramogale said, “Saturday, 31 October, marks the end of our reorganized first semester. It is appropriate, as this momentous event approaches, to write to you to express my appreciation for your contribution to our endeavour to save the academic year. Our successful conclusion of the first semester has been a collective effort, and I would like to thank each and every one of you.”

Using a powerful Zulu idiom, ‘Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’: I am, not because I am, but because we are, Prof Ramogale expressed his humility and graciousness to both staff and students who all rose to the occasion in saving lives and saving the academic year. “The worst could have happened, but because of all your efforts to comply with the new normal, we are now able to complete our reorganized first semester without having experienced interruptions. You were called upon to do things differently, and you all adapted impeccably and unconditionally. Not a single one of you complained. Instead, some of you even went the extra mile by assuming more responsibilities.”

Second semester registration takes-off at MUT

Zolisa Gqamane

This week, Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) started its semester registration for the 446 spaces available at the University. Zolisa Gqamane, Deputy Registrar: Academic Administration and Examinations, said the University received 4 461 applications, which is over ten times the number of available spaces.

Students who applied to the Faculty of Management Sciences got the opportunity to register first this week. “The programmes that we are registering at this time from the Faculty of Management Sciences are those that are being phasing out,” said Zolisa. “These are B. Tech programmes in the Department of Accounting and Law, and some programmes in the Department of Public Administration and Economics.”
Students in the Faculties of Engineering and Natural Sciences will follow next week. The Department of Electrical Engineering received 1113 applications alone, making it the most popular department for applicants.

Programmes in the faculties of Engineering and Natural Sciences will register from 2 November 2020, taking both new and returning students. All students will register online, in line with the COVID-19 protocols and regulations.

“A link will be sent to new students to guide them as to how they will register online,” said Zolisa. Applicants were further advised to consult the University website for information; alternatively, they can also contact University Admissions call centre during office hours, on 031 819 9287, or 031 819 9286. He further added, “Only applicants that have accepted their offers, or would have accepted their offers before 2 November 2020, will be registered. There will be no walk-ins. Applicants who fail to accept their offers before the closing date may have their offers withdrawn and space given to other applicants. Lectures for the second semester are set to commence on 9 November 2020. The University has re-adjusted its academic calendar as a result of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

New LED screens as communication platform

Additional communication platform

Both the main and Faculty of Natural Sciences campuses are now spotting huge LED waterproof screens. These new screens will add another communication platform for the University’s message.

Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director: Marketing and Communications, said the screens were part of a grand strategy by her department to ensure that staff and students received the messages meant for them. “This is a massive addition to our communication platforms. It comes at a time when we have to see to it that our communication processes are streamlined, given that the messages we have to communicate are urgent and could be life-saving. The screens will give us a chance to post multiple messages within a reasonably short time,” said Mbali.

Mbali said inputting will be controlled by the department, and that would drastically improve communication with staff and students.

MUT applauds neighbouring school’s performance and offer assistance

Sibongile Bulose, standing, right, addressing the learners

Good performance should be recognised and encouraged. This was the case when the Schools Liaison at MarComms and Student Counselling staff at Department of Student Affairs paid a visit to Umbelebele High School in Umlazi Township’s Q Section on 27 October 2020.

Sibongile Bulose, Schools Liaison Officer in the Department of Marketing and Communications, said the trip was sparked by the latest news from the school. “Recently the school has shown a marked improvement. In the September trials it achieved 85.5% pass rate. This is a strong commitment on the part of both learners and teachers,” said Sibongile.

The visit’s purpose was to motivate learners to do well in their academic studies, particularly in the upcoming examination, with the emphasis on balancing studies and social life.

Addressing the learners, Ayanda Bulose, Schools Liaison Assistant at MUT said: “In your preparation for exams always remember the five Ps – Proper preparation prevents poor performance. Dream big. Do not be afraid to be true to yourselves. Work hard. Hard work pays. Pace yourselves well.”

The MUT teams also talked to the learners about the careers; this was also a way of preparing the learners for life in general. The Schools Liaison team encouraged learners who have not applied to take advantage of the late application date.

The visit, which was part of the University’s Anchor Strategy, indicated a need to work with Umbelelebele High School for various developmental programmes. The school has been under-performing in the previous years. Lungile Mkhize, a psychologist at the Student Counselling unit, told learners about the services that the unit offers, and that the unit was open to the general public.

Nature Conservation department hosts Marine Life Awareness Campaign

The meeting was held outdoors because of Covid-19 regulations

Nature Conservation and Ecosystems Rehabilitation and Restoration (ERR) hosted the Marine Life Awareness Campaign at the University on 21 October 2020. Sithembile Nkosi, a Lecturer in the department, said the event highlighted the damage that humans are causing upon the marine ecosystem. According to Sithembile, the event also brought to the fore the importance of the marine ecosystems, the threats to such ecosystems, and the mitigation measures.

“There is a number of major threats, and these interfere with the marine food chain, and the general marine ecosystem. For instance, the plastics that are dumped into the sea end up choking the turtles that mistake them for food. The oil spills also cause a lot of damage on the marine life, as do the domestic affluence. The latter changes the temperature of the water, and forces marine animals to the surface where they are picked up by predators,” said Sithembile.

Sithembile said the main mitigation measure was the knowledge that people should have regarding the causes of problems in the marine ecosystem. “The level of awareness of the problems, and improving the enforcement of the applicable regulations, and ensuring the proper environmental impact assessment process are followed, will go a long way in protecting the marine ecosystem,” said Sithembile.

Like last year, the Department of Nature Conservation students were a big part of the campaign. Sithembile added that the students did the presentations and she was more than pleased with the quality of their presentations.

“What was even more heartening was the fact that those were first-year students. This highlights the commitment of our students, even at this level of their study. This augurs well for the kind of graduates we are going to produce. These students are already environmentally sensitive,” said Sithembile.

Department of Infrastructure hands over new walkway to Maintenance

The new walkway on the main campus

On 29 October 2020, the Operations Department handed over a campus beautification and health and safety improvement project to the Department of Maintenance. Lindokuhle Mzolo, Infrastructure Projects Coordinator, said the walkway project added another structure that both staff and students would use.

He added that the project achieved its intended purpose, which was to turn the walkway towards the Seme sports grounds into a conducive structure that can be used without the risk of slipping. The walkway can now also be used as a training facility as it has steps that extend to about 100 metres.
Lindo said that the project was the first phase of projects of a similar nature which are being rolled out to provide conducive walkway facilities as part of the broader University infrastructure improvement in line with the University’s goal of creating an enabling and supporting environment at the institution.

Accepting the project, Kenyatta Makhoba, MUT Works Manager, congratulated the Infrastructure division for a job well-done on the project. “We will ensure that we maintain the standard of the project.”

Health & Safety enforces the wearing of masks

In spite of the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ramogale’s pleas to staff and students to adhere to protocols of preventing COVID-19 infections, there is still a huge number of both of these stakeholders that refuses to wear masks and to social distance. Fearing the worst that could happen, Mr Lizwi Masondo, the Compliance Officer and Sr. Nomusa Mkhwanazi, the COVID-19 Convenor set up a meeting to discuss how best students and staff could be forced to prevent infections. The meeting agreed that naming and shaming will be part of the strategies to mitigate infections. There will be marshals across the University who will be looking out for those individuals who refuse to protect others. This week, we present the Khovy of the week campaign For those of you who have not followed the story of Khovy, remember to tune in on Reflections, to get a sense of what a wayward person Khovy is. You do not want to be like Khovy!

MUT’s first semester draws to a close

Mike Naidoo, MUT Registrar

It must have been with a great relief for MUT’s executive management that the first semester is drawing to a close. Most semester students have completed their first semester assessments. In preparation for registration from 2-6 November 2020, MUT Registrar, Mike Naidoo’s office could not have been prouder. It rolled these assessments under very difficult COVID-19 protocols. The unchartered territory became the new norm. No COVID-19 cases emerged during this new norm. Mike Naidoo has sent details of new semester registration protocols under COVID-19. “One of the main focus in this new normal is less contact. The new registration protocols see to it that students may not even need to move to new residences. They should be safe where they are. Even coming to campus during registration is strictly discouraged. Most of the registration will be online,” said Mike.

Student recruitment under strict COVID-19 protocols

Ayanda Bulose, middle, with learners

The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated an immediate mind-shift in all sectors. MUT has not been spared.  In order to keep the new applications coming through for the MUT class of 2021, the student recruitment team at Marcomms has had to brace themselves for more strategic ways of getting the job done.  To a large extent, student recruitment has shifted to online platforms and the MUT team has been employing a range of integrated marketing communications activities; taking student recruitment to platforms such as Facebook Live, WhatsApp channel, and email.  The demand of the new normal has laid bare the challenges of learners in rural schools. Most of these leaners do not have access and the means to access online communication.

“Our statistics show that MUT enjoys a big supply of quality students from schools in far-flung areas like kwaHlabisa, Nquthu, Vryheid, Newcastle and other deep rural areas.  We had to literally go straight to the eye of the storm in search of these learners.  Since the country moved to Lockdown Level 1, we have visited more than 300 deep rural schools to recruit students.   In doing this, we never let our guard down because we are fully aware that COVID-19 is still with us.  We take extra precautions like making sure that we constantly sanitise our hands, wear masks and shields and if necessary we quarantine ourselves after attending student recruitment events where we interacted with large crowds,” said Ayanda Bulose, Schools Liaison Officer at Marcomms.

This week the team has dedicated more time visiting Umlazi schools to assist learners with applications for admission as well as assisting with NSFAS applications.  Later in the week the team will be at KwaHlabisa providing a similar service to learners in that area as well.  The extension of the closing date for applications to 30 November 2020 has provided an opportunity for MUT to intensify student recruitment targeting diverse learners across all quintiles.

It has been a very stressful time for matric learners and educators. The visits by the MUT student recruitment team has received very positive feedback and has been applauded as giving learners hope to look forward to their first year at tertiary next year.