W&RSETA visits MUT to meet bursary recipients

Wholesale and Retail SETA representatives, Siphokazi Potelwa, second from left, seated, and Samela Masiko, right, also seated, with students, and Cynthia Nkosi, left seated

This week, representatives of the Wholesale and Retail Sector Education and Training Authority (W&RSETA) visited Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) to check in with students who the SETA is funding.

Led by Siphokazi Potelwa, who is a Project Officer at W&RSETA, the organisation’s visit to MUT was two-fold. First, Potelwa and her colleagues wanted to physically verify the existence of the students they are funding and also to clarify any questions and queries that students may have had.

Speaking at the meeting with students on Thursday, 10 November 2022, Photelwa said the physical verification was a requirement before they could disburse the funds. She added that the funding covered tuition, accommodation and book allowance. In terms of accommodation, W&RSETA only pays for students in residence and makes transport funding available for students who are not in University residence.

This year, W&RSETA funded 95 students reading for Advanced Diploma in Accounting and Marketing. She reminded students that the W&RSETA does not pay for repeating the same course.

Potelwa urged students to keep in touch with Cynthia Nkosi, Senior Bursaries Officer at MUT, for any funding queries. She added that Nkosi will also be the one to update students about their fees.

MUT Sports department introduces Hockey to Umlazi Primary schools

Sanele Madida, right, doing a demonstration, with one of the coaches at Mgijimi Primary School

University’s Anchor Strategy is fast gaining traction, with several units making contact with various members of the local community. On 4 November 2022, the Department of Sports’ Hockey coaches visited several lower primary schools in Umlazi Township to promote the sport.

Sanele Madida, who led the coaches, said they targeted primary schools so that the pupils would be introduced to the sport while they are young. Madida said it was easy for kids to learn any sport at this stage of their lives.

The coaching team first visited the University’s neighbour, Mgijimi Primary School, and continued to other schools in the township.

Acting Vice-Chancellor welcomes a prospective French partner with open arms

Professor Marcus Ramogale, second from left, with Professor Jacques-Pierre Dossantos-Uzarralde, second from right, and the MUT staff

True to his internationalisation’s strategic intent, Professor Marcus Ramogale, Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal of MUT has once more set aside time to meet MUT’s guest Professor Pierre Dossantos-Uzarralde, International Relations Director at École Nationale Supérieure d’Informatique pour l’Industrie et l’Entreprise (ENSIIE). Professor Dossantos-Uzarralde is on a two-day visit to MUT to explore how MUT and ENSIIE could work together in a student-staff exchange programme that will open greater opportunities for both universities.

Professor Dossantos-Uzarralde was grateful to the Acting Vice-Chancellor for his presentation that provided the history of MUT, showed MUT’s differentiation and how MUT has developed its own academic identity, graduate attribute and student entrepreneurship programme.

“Vice-Chancellor, this is inspiring and resonates with the mission of my university. We seem to have synergies in having a core curriculum that has communication skills, computing, applied learning, and entrepreneurship”, said Professor Dossantos-Uzarralde.

The engagement with Prof Dossantos-Uzarralde has moved to a practical analysis of what both universities would like to achieve.

QMD intensifies its IQA awareness campaign

The QMD team

This week, the Quality Management Directorate (QMD) team intensified its campaign to build a quality-oriented culture at MUT. The team has been well-trained, knowledgeable, and up-to-speed with what they are doing. The team is ready to guide the MUT community on this journey.

While this is in preparation for the Institutional Quality Audit, scheduled to take place from 14 to 18 November, Dr Suri Moodley, QMD Director echoed on MUT Radio that our value systems, vision, mission, and goals need to all come together to be central in everything we do so that when our students graduate, they excel both in their private and professional lives. A resonating thread from all QMD speakers is that “Quality is not a once-off event, it is accompanied by setting up systems and adhering to those systems and continuously improving such quality management systems”.

This was reiterated by Dr Manyane Makua, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, who said: “…quality should be the cornerstone of what every individual does within an institution”.

Modjadji Baloyi, Alumni Relations Officer at MUT, has been wowed by the QMD team. She says, “We were able to listen as a team at MarComms and after that, we started to reflect on what we need to do to ensure that this quality imperative is embedded in everything we do. For me, I have been able to identify my stakeholders, successful alumni, who will best showcase how their lives have been impacted positively by being graduates of MUT”.

Listening to the QMD colleagues on MUT Radio has been more informational. It has been  a call to action for the MUT community on how we should fulfil their quality assurance objectives.

Student Counselling unit shines a spotlight on living with disabilities as it welcomes International Disability Month

An able seeing student finding her way, blindfolded

Mangosuthu University of Technology welcomed International Disability Month – 3 November to 3 December 2022 – by hosting games to raise awareness of disabilities on its Anniversary Lane on 31 October 2022.

Lindiwe Chamane, a Student Counsellor in the Student Counselling unit, said they aimed to create a better understanding of different types of disabilities, and “as peers, how to support those who are living with unchangeable conditions. Playing the disability-related games allowed the students to have an experience of using the assistive devices that are used by students with disability daily on campus,” said Chamane.

She emphasised  that awareness contributes to reducing misconceptions, stereotypes and stigmatisation: “These attitudes lead to negative perceptions and attitudes”..

 

The central message of the event was to make abled individuals feel what is like to live with some form of disability. This is the reason the abled individuals used the assistive devices that are used by individuals with disabilities. They used wheelchairs, and canes to feel their way while blindfolded.

Chamane said the types of disabilities that students are living with at the University included visual impairment, which is partially sightedness; partially deafness; several forms of limb deformity, some of which are hand/leg amputation, extra and or missing hand fingers, club feet, and growth of extra bones. There are also students with mobility issues as a result of hip dislocation, bone disease and spinal cord dysfunction. Some students also have psychological and learning disabilities.

Agriculture academic visits Australian Museum Research Institute

Dr Makhosi Buthelezi

Dr  Makhosi Buthelezi from the Department of Agriculture is visiting the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI) in Sydney, Australia from 04 to 12 November 2022 to progress research activities on the integrative systematics of the pest, Lepidoptera.

This  work will incorporate the dissection and microscopic examination of specimens as well as DNA work on the groundnut/soya bean leaf miner (GSLM) specimens collected from South Africa, Australia and India.  The ultimate goal of this research project is to develop control strategies for GSLM, a new serious pest of legume crops which has recently invaded the African continent. GSLM distribution covers Egypt, Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, DRC, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Therefore, the findings of this research project do not benefit South Africa alone but other countries affected by this pest. This research project falls under one of MUT’s research areas of collaborative excellence which is health and food security.

The research project is being conducted in collaboration with the University of Zululand, Department of Agriculture and Plant Sciences, the Entomology Department in AMRI in Sydney, Australia and the Department of Entomology in International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad in India. This is the second visit to AMRI by Dr Buthelezi to undertake research activities; she also visited ICRISAT in Hyderabad twice to undertake research activities for this project. Locally, the project is funded by MUT and NRF. Six publications have emanated from this research project.

MUT’s ICT partners with world-class IT company

ICT staff, Dr Bethel Mutanga, left, and Dr Vikash Jugoo

“Your application has been accepted. You will receive a separate email with instructions for signing into the AWS Academy Portal where you can read and accept the AWS Academy Terms & Conditions.” This is a response that Dr Bethel Mutanda, a Lecturer in the Department of Information and Communications Technology, received from the AWS Academy Team on 12 October 2022.

Informing the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Professor Roger Coopoosamy, Dr Vikash Jugoo, the Head of the Department, said:  “Thanks to the efforts of Dr Mutanga, the Department of ICT is now a partner with AWS Amazon Academy, and has been approved to offer their courses”. The Acting Dean’s response was, “I support this initiative totally. It brings out an international flavour to our students and offerings at MUT.”

Dr Mutanda said the final approval came on 14 October 2022: “I made the application four weeks ago.  I also held a series of meetings with Amazon representatives before the final approval could be granted”.

Asked to elaborate on the initiative, Dr Mutanda said the initiative was one of his contributions towards improving graduate employability which he has been declining over the years.

“The rate of unemployed IT graduates is increasing every year. Previously, IT was regarded as a  prestigious qualification that could guarantee employment upon graduation. However, with recent developments, the field has become highly specialized,” said Dr Mutanda

Dr Mutanda said that consequently, students or new graduates were forced to do vendor-specific professional courses. These include Microsoft, CISCO, and Amazon. He pointed out that students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds could not afford these courses.

“Needless to say that this puts them at a huge disadvantage compared to their privileged counterparts,” he said.

Dr Mutanda said that over the years, he has been trying to assist students by looking for funded internship programmes. However, after the internship period, students still found themselves unemployed.

“It appears that experience without professional skills development programmes is not sufficient. Such a partnership bridges this gap as our students will be able to access over 20 certification courses for free or at a discounted price. These certificates include cloud computing, security, artificial intelligence, data science, among others”. Dr Mutanda said the programmes were flexible.

AWS Academy provides higher education institutions with a free, ready-to-teach cloud computing curriculum that prepares students to pursue industry-recognized certifications and careers in the cloud. In addition, having MUT as a registered partner institution allows students to do hands-on practicals on Amazon cloud infrastructure.

“Such experience is highly sought after in the industry,” said Dr Mutanda.

ICT public lecture interrogates POPI Act

Manqoba Mngomezulu

This week, the Department of Information Communication Technology hosted a public lecture to interrogate the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) which was signed into law in 2013. The lecture was presented by Information Security/Cybersecurity Consultant, Author, Entrepreneur, and Professional Speaker, Manqoba Mngomezulu.

Mngomezulu’s lecture was titled, “POPIA Act and its Conditions”. Through Microsoft Teams, Mngomezulu presented a detailed account of the implications of POPIA on the university’s activities.

The engagements, which went on way beyond the scheduled hour, provided an opportunity for staff to ask questions about how they could avoid being found on the wrong side of the law. Most of the questions centred around the practical ways in which academics can communicate developments around courses and tests with their students in a compliant way.

“You need to go back to your policies and see how you can be compliant”,  Mngomezulu said, emphasising the need to limit the chances of exposing the institution to transgressing POPIA by handling personal information with care.

“Only collect what you are going to use,” he said. “You need a policy on handling and discarding personal information that you have already used.”

He added among other things, that all organisations needed Information Officers and Deputy Information Officers to ensure that there is compliance.

Bayede, Ndabezitha!

Professor Marcus Ramogale

Professor Marcus Ramogale, acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal of MUT, took it upon himself to honour an invitation extended to him and a few members of his team by Professor Otty Nxumalo in his capacity as Chairman of the Royal Coronation Committee. The invitation was extended to the ceremony of the handing over of a certificate to the new AmaZulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini, which took place on Saturday, 29 October 2022.

“This was a great ceremony and a once-in-a-lifetime ceremony. Not only was I glad to be part of the attendees, but I was also glad to witness the love of culture within the region afterwards, showing off how best its traditional garments are differentiated from the other regions. As a University, we have a framework for the preservation of local history and the curation of local art. I would like to take this forward and ensure that this is documented properly as part of our contribution as a University,” said Professor Ramogale. “We are representing MUT to say, Bayede, Ndabezitha” Prof Ramogale said.

IT&N empowers students to protect the MUT network

MUT students and service providers

While the complexity of cyber crimes makes it difficult to guarantee a network’s security, the University’s Department of Information Technology and Networks (IT&N) can now say with some reasonable amount of confidence that its staff and students will  be able to deal with some troublesome cyber behaviour. From 24-26 October 2022, the department ran sessions on cyber awareness. This was part of the cyber awareness activities that the department started rolling out last week to staff, as part of the cyber awareness programme  every October.

Njabulo Xaba, Project Leader from the IT&N department, said they were happy that over 2000 students attended the three-day event, where several IT experts provided valuable information to the students. Xaba said the central message from the experts was that everyone needed to be careful with messages they received from strangers, and they also needed to be careful about their behaviour while online.

Said Xaba: “Berea Computers’ Chief Executive Officer,  Ndumiso Buthelezi, advised the students not to click on the wrong links”. Buthelezi also impressed upon the students that they needed to create strong passwords on their mobile phones and laptops..

Xaba  mentioned  that the experts  gave a lecture on the cyber-related crimes that happen when people use Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), particularly in the central business district, as most of the University’s students reside in town.

Xaba added that they decided to run sessions for the students because they are also users of the University network.

“Students use MUT Wi-Fi to access their study materials. Also, IT&N has invested a lot in internet provision for students staying on and off campus. Students use the student portal to access their marks and their health information which are built into the ITS system, hence it becomes necessary for IT&N to provide security awareness to them,” said Xaba.

Xaba noted that the students appreciated the effort.

“They were thrilled with the sessions; they have requested, through the Student Representative Council, that we arrange more security awareness sessions at their residences off campus. IT&N has welcomed this request; we will be embarking on the programme for the rest of the cyber security awareness month. These will take place every evening when students are at their residences,” Xaba.

Thelente Mtshali, a second-year Marketing Diploma student, said she learnt that it was important for an individual to protect their personal information, and create a strong password to be protected from cybercrime. Another second-year Marketing Diploma student, Mthunzi Dlulisa, said he learnt that 95% of people are affected by cybercrimes.

“To protect your personal computer from being hacked, you must install a firewall and anti-virus.

Mongi Nquphaza, an Ethical Hacker from Berea Computers, said it was very costly to deal with cyber crimes. Nquphaza also said that the top IT security threats that lead to data loss are malware, phishing attacks, accidental data leaks by staff, lack of staff training, outdated network infrastructure, and lack of systems to enforce some policies.  Nquphaza advised the students to stay away from hacking. He told them they would get caught and be punished.

 

Faculty of Natural Sciences receives research instrument

Professor Theophilus Davies, seated, right, signing the necessary papers, while Pieter du Preez, also seated, and other members of staff, look on

The research equipment that one of the Faculty of Natural Sciences Research Professors at MUT secured from Germany’s Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has been delivered. The equipment was delivered by Pieter Du Preez from INNOV-X-Africa.

Professor Theophilus Davies said the Olympus Vanta Element Model hand-held XRF analyser with field stand and Ranger Radiation Monitor, would have a major positive impact on the faculty’s research efforts. Professor Davies said, “the equipment is capable of changing lives. At least now we can measure the toxic elements in the environment where people live”..

Professor Davies said that everyone was invited to their projects. He pointed out that the equipment would facilitate staff academic progression because  they can now use it for their research work. He invited staff who intended to study towards their Masters and PhD degrees to contact him.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation approved the sum of 20,000 euros for the purchase of fieldwork equipment. The instrument is expected to last for at least 10 years.

Professor Davies is a co-founder of Medical Geology and investigates medical problems that emanate from the environment as a result of abandoned mines. Now Professor Davies and his team will be able to investigate conditions in these mines, and respond accordingly.

Professor Davies also highly recommends collaboration with professionals in the medical field, so there will be a complete understanding of medical issues, and thus proper solutions can be offered.

Staff at the University’s Technology Station in Chemicals, and Department of Chemistry, have already been trained in using the new equipment.

Well done, MUT – numbers don’t lie

SASUF Breaking down the statistics South African Universities

At a SASUF feedback workshop hosted by the University of Mpumalanga on 18 – 20 October 2022, the MUT brand stood tall among the top universities of South Africa. MUT, which is newly registered with SASUF, contributed 6% of the research projects during the SASUF Goes Digital Conference.

The boldness and audacity to stand tall among research-led universities and those that have been with SASUF since 2018, gives hope to MUT. Well done, MUT, we see you. No more turning back.

“I am thankful to all my colleagues for this humungous support. It was not easy to deliver on such a huge mandate in less than two months but everyone rose to the occasion and participated. Now we get ready for the next leg of SASUF collaborations. Those that did not participate last time may still participate in the new call for virtual grants (https://www.sasuf.org/virtual-exchange-grants). Those who attended a session organised by Professor Nokuthula Sibiya should approach her office for assistance with the art of grantsmanship,” said Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director: MarComms.

“The call promises a lot of professional growth in academia and/or research. For example, anyone looking to update an already existing course, project, summer school, living lab and others with virtual elements or who wishes to incorporate an exchange of virtual guest lecturers or virtual projects/assignments for students, should apply. This dovetails with our internationalisation strategy which has Internationalisation at Home as part of its value proposition,” she added.

Academics and researchers will have an opportunity to plan and implement new joint courses, projects, summer schools, and learning labs with teachers and students from both countries.

Library highlights the significance of broadening access during Open Access Week

Magocoba in MUT Radio live studio, talking about the importance of Open Access
 

The University Library decided to use the International  Open Access Week  – 24 to 30 October 2022  to highlight the limitations of having to pay for research publications.

Andisiwe Magocoba, Information Librarian: E-resources at MUT Library, gave an academic explanation of Open Access. She said Open Access (OA) addressed the limited access to scholarly outputs caused by high journal subscription rates.

Magocoba said that the week’s events homed in on improving off-campus and offline access to resources. She said that most students and some staff members did not know that they could access Library resources off-campus and offline via the Library website, using their MUT login credentials. Using both MUT academic staff (Dr Joseph Bwapwa and Dr Tobius Poswa), along with representatives of various research publishing platforms, Magocoba explained that OA was the practice of providing online access to scientific information (articles, monographs, research data and other research outputs) free of charge to the reader, and licensed by the publisher so that they can be further used and exploited by researchers, the industry, and the general public. The idea is supported by the  Open Science movement. This is a broad international movement that seeks to grant free and open online access to academic information, such as publications and data, and to utilise open-source software to manage the publishing, access and archiving process.

“A publication is defined as open access when there are no financial, legal or technical barriers to accessing it – that is to say, when anyone can read, download, copy, distribute, print, search for and search within the information or use it in education or in any other way within the legal agreements,” said Magocoba.

Explaining how MUT staff and students benefited from Open Access Week, Magocoba said the events were an invaluable chance to connect the global momentum toward the open sharing of knowledge with the advancement of policy changes and the importance of social issues affecting people around the world.

“One of the most important benefits of attending Open Access Week is the exposure to resources that assist and support academic excellence, and increase visibility of open access resources,” she said.

Magocoba further added that OA benefitted researchers and/or authors as well as readers. Authors and/or researchers want access to readers at least as much as readers want access to authors. All authors want to cultivate a larger audience and greater impact. She said that studies have shown that open-access articles are viewed and cited more often than articles behind paywalls.

“They have a greater public engagement, and content is available to those who cannot access subscription content. Open access journals that cross multiple disciplines help researchers connect more easily and provide greater visibility of their research,” said Magocoba.  She added that open-access publications and data enable researchers to carry out collaborative research on a global scale.

Magocoba said the Library was hoping that MUT authors and/or researchers would be cognisant of their research output appearing in open-access-supporting journals to ensure equitable access to information for the greater good of society.

“This could be done by electing to publish on open access journals which appear on the DHET journals list, as well as on the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Recently the MUT Library announced through the Research Office that Wiley and Emerald, to which MUT Library subscribes,  have signed transformational agreements to allow some of their journals to publish via the open-access route. MUT staff can enjoy perpetual access to their own researchers’ scholarly output that could be found on the Library’s Institutional Repository Hungu,” said Magocoba.

MUT Civil Engineering staff conquers the road with his bike

Sandile Phakathi on his bike, at training

For years he has been a familiar sight at the University grounds, with his Civil Engineering students, using their distinctive instruments. Now he has become a familiar sight on the roads north of the town.

Sandile Phakathi, a Technician in the Department of Civil Engineering, said he has taken to riding a bicycle as a hobby. But all you hear when he tells his story is the talk of professional cyclists. All he talks about is the riding gear, the right attitude towards training, the type of bike he is riding and why he chose that particular bike, the roads where he trains, which are marked for bicycle riders, the time he trains, and his plans.

Phakathi says he has been riding for four years. He rides for the ‘Amashova’, a popular bicycle group, and has participated in several races.

“In 2019, I did 38 km from Hillcrest to Durban. My performance was average. I finished in 2 hours and 15 minutes. In 2020, I did indoor virtual cycling due to Covid-19 restrictions. Virtual cycling is when you ride at home with the help of an intelligent App. You can go on a variety of cycling adventures without leaving the comfort of your own home. The route you are riding is shown on the laptop, or television set screen connected to the App,” said Phakathi.

In 2021, Phakathi took part in a 102.6 km race from Durban to Cato Ridge, then back to Durban. This year, he rode from Cato Ridge to Durban, which he took 2 hours and 35 minutes to complete.

Phakathi defines himself as an average rider. However, that is likely to change if he sticks to his plans.  His approach is professional.

“Well before 2008, I used to race on 150 cc dirt bikes; it was a good sport for me, but it was way too expensive. I was forced to quit,” said Phakathi.

But his love for the sport drew him back.

“A bicycle is a useful vehicle that helps us reach our destination without polluting the environment. It also helps with exercising your body. I believe in that we should involve ourselves in a sport that helps our body to be healthy. Cycling helps to strengthen your heart muscles, and reduces fat levels,” he said.

Cybersecurity guru strengthens MUT’s cyber resilience, pro bono

Njabulo Xaba, left, and Jay Kay

The Department of Information Technology and Networks (IT&N) at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) has taken the protection of MUT’s internet to another level during its Cyber Awareness Week 2022. This year, it used its relationship with a cybersecurity guru, Jay Kay, from Askaris Cyber Security in the United Kingdom.

Kay met Njabulo Xaba at a global cybersecurity conference in Johannesburg and a relationship emerged leading to Kay’s company flying him to spend a week at MUT empowering staff and students on cybersecurity.

The presentations by Kay were a culmination of back-end work which often put staff to the test in terms of how risk-savvy they are with protecting the University from cyber threats. Presenting on “How not to be a phish out of water”, Kay set the tone by explaining how social engineering works, where hackers use misdirection and confusion to make organisations vulnerable.

“The cost to a hacked company amounts to millions of dollars. Besides the costs, when the entire database is wiped off, it causes a lot of distress to companies. It is for this reason that when I leave this platform you should all have a buy-in into the fact that cyber training should be mandatory,” said Kay.

He cited cases where organisations have built up cybersecurity awareness as part of employee onboarding.

“Today, organisations need to start reviewing their policies such as working from home policy, password policies, and cybersecurity policies. Cybersecurity risks are looming everywhere, and companies need to be subjected to constant audits on their risk environments,” said Kay.

The takeaway lessons enabled people to understand various forms of phishing, ranging from smishing, vishing, smear phishing, whaling, and email phishing. Kudos to the senior director, IT&N and team, and particularly Xaba, for operating at an international level and negotiating with Kay to provide this training pro bono.

Cyber Security Week empowers staff to understand the need for cybersecurity resilience

The last group of staff that attended the session, and the service providers

The need to make MUT able to continuously deliver its mandate despite cyber attacks was driven home during the Cyber Security week by Datacentrix, homing in on everyone to take extra measures to become more cyber resilient.

If left unprotected, MUT’s cyberspace could fall victim to cybercrimes which have now increased by 600% since Covid-19 and will cost 10.5 trillion dollars by 2025, according to Datacentrix.

“So, what can MUT do?”, asked the expert from Datacentrix. “First, every employee needs to understand what ransomware is. This is when organisations are being kept at ransom by hackers who would have hacked their systems and thereafter demand hefty payments for their data to be returned. The stolen data is not always returned. It is therefore important that all employees are constantly reminded that hackers out there may steal their data. We have a responsibility to protect our data by understanding different types of malware that could compromise our data. Some types of malware include keylogging worms which self-replicate, the Trojan horse and bots. Our mandate as an organisation is to work with a common cause,” said Datacentrix.

“There should be policies guiding the storage of data and these should be aligned to the PoPI Act. Always remember that you are the target and this is not just done at an individual level. There are allegations that some countries are part of the hackers,” asked the expert from Datacentrix.

Gender bias, family life, mentoring and stereotyping are significant factors contributing to gender disparity in STEM research: MUT study

Dr Bheka Ntshangase, one of the researchers and writers

A study by Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) academics, comparing women’s presence and roles in science research for five years in eight continental regions of the world, has identified four significant factors contributing to gender disparity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This study has been generating coverage across various news media outlets, highlighting the significance of gender parity in education.

The study, which is titled Gender parity among researchers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, was recently published in the journal of Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Issues (Volume 9, Number 4). It  used data from a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) scientific report focusing on the five years from 2013 to 2017.

“Extant research suggests that women actively seek Bachelors and Masters degrees and even outnumber men at these levels, accounting for 53% of graduates, but their numbers decrease precipitously at the doctoral level. Furthermore, men account for 72% of the global pool of researchers, widening the gender gap even further,” the study explained.

Authored by MUT academics and researchers, Dr Steven Msosa, a Lecturer in the Department of Marketing; Dr Bheka Ntshangase, the Acting Dean of Management Sciences; and Dr Courage Mlambo, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Management Sciences, the study found that gender bias, family life, mentoring, and stereotyping are the main causes of gender disparity in STEM researchers.

In terms of gender bias, the study found that half of the women in STEM careers reported having experienced gender-based discrimination in the form of “earning less than a man doing the same job”, “being treated as incompetent”, “experiencing repeated minor insults in the workplace”, along with “receiving less support from senior leaders than a man doing the same job”.

For women STEM researchers, these challenges are coupled with having to work in a male-dominated profession and environment which is not women-friendly. To cope with these challenges, women STEM researchers “…must be highly resilient in the face of gender-biased sentiments. At the same time, they must identify their place, submit themselves to predominantly masculine workplace culture, demonstrate strong performance dedication, and avoid uncomfortable situations,” the study explained.

In terms of family life, the study identified the absence of gender-sensitive policies as a greater contributor towards the lack of support for women to progress in STEM research. Furthermore, the lack of a gender-sensitive promotion system is also a barrier to women’s professional development.

“Many women who work in research must combine their careers with caring for their children,” the study stated. “Having a solid support structure from their family has been critical for many women.”

The availability of role models and mentors adds to the professional development of women in STEM. It is fellow female mentors who assist in creating confidence in women’s ability to succeed in STEM.

“Young women with successful female STEM professionals (such as scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists) foster a proper understanding of STEM fields and access to female role models,” explained the study.

The study also identified stereotypes as the final major determinant of women’s success in STEM careers.

“Stereotypes hamper the test performance of ability-stigmatised groups, and they fail to reach their full potential,” the study commented. “This is an essential channel for explaining why girls perform worse in mathematics when they are assigned to more biased teachers, but it is also broadly relevant because it suggests that exposure to gender stereotypes is at least partially responsible for women’s lower self-confidence in scientific fields.”

This study is an important step towards identifying the causes of and finding solutions to gender disparities in STEM studies globally. It suggests social, behavioural and policy interventions to support women to succeed in STEM fields.

MUT Library to host Open Access Week

Library staff giving some orientation to students in the Library

One of the many schools of thought on the value of education believes that it is a critical tool for an active citizenry to contribute positively to society. Among those who advance this normative role of education, is a group of scholars who believe that knowledge should be available widely for all to access it. One of the avenues through which wide access to knowledge is possible is through open-access publishing.

Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) Library is gearing up to amplify this message of making knowledge available to those who want it through the Open Access Week, which takes place from 24 to 28 October 2022 in various venues.

The theme of the Open Access Week celebration is “Open for Climate Justice”. The theme seeks to encourage connection and collaboration among the climate movement and the international open community.

“Sharing knowledge is a human right and tackling the climate crisis requires the rapid exchange of knowledge across the geographic, economic, and disciplinary boundaries. Open Access (OA) addresses the limited access to scholarly outputs usually caused by high journal subscription rates. It is the practice of providing online access to scientific information (articles, monographs, research data and other research outputs) that is free of charge to the reader and licensed so that they can be further used and exploited by researchers, the industry, and citizens,” said Andisiwe Magocoba, Information Librarian: E-resources at MUT Library.

Magocoba added that the MUT Library had invited a combination of local library user representatives from various research databases to share their knowledge of research information platforms with the MUT community as part of the Open Access Week. These speakers will talk about the availability of open access resources such as e-books, e-journals, and databases, as well as create awareness of other e-resources at MUT Library.

“A library is the cornerstone of anyone’s pursuit of the latest, reliable and scientifically-tested knowledge. The MUT Library has more to offer physically and virtually. Our plan for the Open Access Week is to take library users through what we have in store for them and how they can use the many platforms they have access to in their quest for knowledge and knowledge creation,” said Magocoba.

The week-long programme will start with a webinar on the Perlego online digital library on Monday, 24 October 2022, at Bozzoli Hall. Starting at 10h00, this session will be led by Dr Joseph Bwapwa, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Civil Engineering at MUT. Dr Bwapwa is a frequent online library user for his lectures and for his research which he frequently publishes in peer-reviewed journals.

Day 2 (Tuesday, 25 October 2022) activities, which start at 11h00 in the MUT Library Internet Lab, will feature Dr Tobius Poswa, the Head of the Department of Environmental Health at MUT. He will share his expertise on using JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments), which is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes experimental methods in video format.

EBSCO Information Activities will take over the activities of Day 3 (Wednesday, 26 October 2022) with two sessions starting at 09h30 and 12h00, respectively. The two sessions, which will take place at Bozzoli Hall,  will be led by representatives from EBSCO.

Representatives of WWIS (Worldwide Information Services) will lead two sessions, starting at 10h00 and 13h00 at the MUT Library Internet Lab, on Thursday, 27 October 2022 (Day 4).

The final day of the Open Access Week (Friday, 28 October 2022) will feature representatives from Sabinet, who will speak on what their database offers. This session will start at 10h00 at Bozzoli Hall.

“We are calling on all MUT Library users to take advantage of this opportunity to learn as much as possible about the many features of their library,” said Magocoba.

MUT support staff member graduates with a PhD

Dr Azwi Mufamadi, with his supervisor, Judith Reynolds

Staff at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) continue to embrace the call to get their terminal degrees and the number of staff who are getting their doctoral qualifications keeps growing. The beauty of it is that both academic and support staff have equally responded to the challenge.

On Friday, 14 October 2022, Azwi Mufamadi, Director: Public Relations and Brand Management at MarComms, graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy from Rhodes University, adding to a growing list of academic and support staff members with terminal qualifications.

Dr Mufamadi’s thesis, entitled An examination of activism and ‘political listening’ during the year of student protest at the University of Cape Town from 9 March 2015 to 9 March 2016, focused on the role of communication in deepening democracy by making decision-making processes more representative during protests. By using protest by the Rhodes Must Fall movement (RMF) at the University of Cape Town (UCT) as a case study, the study adds an important body of knowledge on the role of protest as a form of political participation in South Africa’s democracy with deeper roots in the country’s history.

“One of the normative roles of universities is to train and socialize students into active citizens who will contribute to the deepening of democracy. But South African universities are marred with frequent protests, just as is the case for South Africa, which is considered the protest capital of the world,” explained Dr Mufamadi.

The study found, among other things, that protests at UCT not only forced the university to make issues of transformation serious and urgent,  but also contributed to creating space for these matters to be discussed. Although UCT is a public institution, it responded to most of the student protests through the lens of Private Property Law by insisting on enforcing the Code of Conduct for students even  when such insistence was a barrier to deliberative democracy, and for UCT management to listen to voices of its largely black staff and students.

The thesis demonstrated that those in power (university management) were not willing to listen to any dissenting views, and protest was the only form of political participation that enabled the less powerful to be heard. This was the case even when such protests reached the national level through the #FeesMustFall movement; the initial response by the government was that of a refusal to hear the issues the students were presenting.

“The irony for RMF is that it demonstrated so well that protest was the only avenue for the powerless to be heard, so much so that there were several protests within RMF where members would protest against each other and demanded to have their views heard by those who organically occupied positions of power within the student movement. In the case of UCT, the protest only turned violent when both RMF and UCT management reached a communication impasse, which highlighted the significance of communication in political conflict resolution within a micro-democracy that universities represent,” explained Dr Mufamadi.

The study also found that the Cape Times newspaper  positioned itself as a stakeholder in the political conflict between RMF and the UCT management. This newspaper chose to tell RMF-related stories through the perspective of RMF, which was unusual for a mainstream newspaper, especially considering that RMF was a protest movement with a flat leadership structure.

“This role of the Cape Times was important in that it supported democracy by amplifying RMF’s demands, and held UCT accountable by ensuring that the University responded to the student movement’s claims,” he said.

Dr Mufamadi’s thesis was supervised by Professor Anthea Garman, the Head of the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University, and Judith Reynolds, who is a Lecturer at Rhodes University. The pair also supervised Dr Mufamadi’s Masters thesis.

“What took most of the time in writing the thesis was the fact that before I could conduct any analysis, I had to work on establishing a detailed timeline and narrative account of what happened during the period under consideration in the study at UCT, which took the form of historiography and could have been submitted for examination without the actual analysis,” explained Dr Mufamadi. “But the plan has always been to produce a detailed enough thesis that I can turn into a peer-reviewed book, which is what I will be working on next.”

Mechanical Engineering Department resumes industry visits after Covid-19

Ronald Gayapershad, middle, standing, with stff and students at MPACT Felixton

As a sign of restoring some kind of normality after the disruption by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Department of Mechanical Engineering resumed its industry visits.

Ronald Gayapershad, a Lecturer in the department, took his students to SOMTA Tools in Pietermaritzburg. The second plant visit to MPACT Felixton was on 19 October 2022, where a total of 57 final semester (S4) Mechanical Engineering students had the opportunity to visit MPACT Felixton in Empangeni. MPACT is the largest paper and plastics packaging and recycling business in Southern Africa. The factory started back in 1953 and today it employs more than 5115 workers.

Gayapershad was accompanied by his colleagues, Ndumiso Ncube, Zakhele Zondi, John Olusanya, and Khulile Kunene. The students were particularly fascinated to see how wastepaper and cardboard could be recycled into usable products.

Gayapershad said the site visit constituted an important part of the core course curriculum taught at the University. “The key objective of the visit was to provide our final semester students with insight into the internal working of an industry. Theoretical knowledge is just not enough for a successful professional career,” said Gayapershad. Gayapershad said the industrial visit provides students with a much more relevant practical perspective of the actual workplace, and the larger world of business.

“After industrial exposure, students will now better understand how what they studied in engineering is put into practice to solve practical, real-life problems, like Manufacturing Engineering, Strength of Materials, Mechanics of Machines, and Mechanical Engineering Design,” said Gayapershad.

MUT celebrates Kaizer Motaung’s birthday

Siyabonga Ncwane, with a knife, with MUT Radio team in the active studio, celebrating Kaizer Motaung Sr’s birthday

On 19 October 2022, MUT Radio and Sport team, and the Chairman of the Kaizer Chiefs eThekwini Region, Siyabonga Ncwane, celebrated the  Chairman’s birthday. Talking on MUT Radio, Ncwane told the listeners about the role that Kaizer Motaung played in international soccer since he formed the club in 1970. Motaung was just 26 years of age at this time.

He was able to provide the necessary leadership to his club. From the time it was formed, Kaizer Chiefs provided fierce competition to already existing clubs like Moroka Swallows, which was formed in 1947, and Orlando Pirates, which was formed in 1937. Kaizer Chiefs was the only club that won the Mainstay Cup more than others – five times over 10 years. This was the most prestigious tournament in the country. Every fan looked forward to this tournament.

Over the years, Kaizer Chiefs have had players joining clubs in big leagues in Europe and North America. During the 1980s, Ace Ntsoelengoe, probably the best player South Africa has ever produced, played many seasons for clubs in the United States, and Canada. Ace played for Minnesota Kicks, from 1976 to 1981, and the Toronto Blizzards from 1982 through ’84. Zacharia ‘Computer’ Lamola, one of the best midfielders in the country in the 1980s, also played in North America. These two players were some of the few that raised the South African sports image overseas during the darkest days of Apartheid. Doctor Khumalo played for Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer, in the United States.

Another highlight of Kaizer Chiefs was bringing players from overseas. Some of these were Herman ‘Pelé’ Blaschke from Namibia, then Ebson ‘Sugar’ Muguyo from Zimbabwe; and Peta Bala’c from Portugal. Bala’c was one of the longest-serving goalkeepers of Kaizer Chiefs. These are just a few.

Kaizer Motaung is known for being a caring individual. He attends the funeral services of the former players and gives soothing words to the families, friends and fans.

Ncwane said Kaizer Chiefs continues to bring happiness to the thousands of fans, and create job opportunities for its players, and other staff members. It is all because of the vision of Kaizer Motaung. Together with MUT Radio, he said ‘Happy 78th Birthday’ to   Chincha Guluva. Motaung was born on 16 October 1944.

Happy birthday Professor Ramogale

Professor Marcus Ramogale  

Messages of love started pouring in this morning from EMC members, wishing Professor Marcus Ramogale, Acting Vice-Chancellor & Principal well during his birthday. This is again to amplify all the best wishes and blessings on behalf of everyone, “Happy birthday, Professor Ramogale, ukhule!”

IT&N launches annual Cyber Security Awareness campaign

Some of the winners for this week – left, Wonderboy Khuzwayo, right, Banzi Shamase, and Njabulo Xaba, middle

The annual Cyber Security campaign is now in full swing. This week saw the Department of Information Technology and Networks (IT&N) rolling out its Cyber Security Awareness competition. The department’s Njabulo Xaba said they were happy with the level of participation by staff. “However, we would like to remind staff that while winning prizes was important, learning more about how to protect our network was even more important. This is our priority,” said Xaba. Xaba, as usual, appealed to staff to be vigilant, and learn more about what happens in the cyber arena.

There were four winners this week. Banzi Shamase, Mbukiso Zuma, both from the Department of Finance, and Wonderboy Khuzwayo, from the Financial Aid Office, said they were very happy about winning, and claiming some prizes. They also highlighted the importance of learning about how to protect the network. The other winner was Lethukuthula Khumalo, a lab assistant at the Academic Literacy and Language Unit (ALLU).

Another International Fellowship at MarComms

Zama Sishi

Zama Sishi, Director, Stakeholder Relations Management at MarComms, will tonight be jetting off to the United States of America for a three-week fellowship through the USA International Visitor Leadership Program fellowship for a USA residency.

“There are only two South Africans that were chosen. The competition was stiff and for me to get to this point shows that a lot of work that we do is meaningful and impactful. I am grateful for the foundation I have acquired at MarComms working with the Senior Director, Mbali Mkhize. The empowerment that she has opened to all of us gave me the confidence to apply for this great opportunity”, said Sishi.

Sishi will visit five universities in five different states where she will explore administration best practices at US universities, colleges, and community colleges. The aim is “understand how US universities and colleges develop and maintain sustainable international partnerships; explore public-private partnerships, with an emphasis on commercialization, technology transfer, and job creation; review university and college best practices for monetizing research; and explore how universities and colleges support faculty collaboration and international research (through travel grants, course load reductions, etc.)”, said Sishi. Sishi will be joining high powered fellows from as far as Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, Ethiopia, and many countries who have produced great leaders. “I hope your travel will generate at least two partnerships with universities in Africa and the US. Never allow a good networking opportunity to pass”, said Mkhize.

Another international opportunity for academics: Deadline extended

Mbali Mkhize

This is an effort to encourage internationalisation. Grab this opportunity: Masters or Doctoral degree in Japan.

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), and the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) are pleased to inform you about the call for applications for the 2023 SDGs Global Leader Programme offered by the Government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for studies beginning September 2023.

Eligibility criteria:

  • South African citizen
  • Appropriate bachelor’s degree for a master’s programme
  • Appropriate master’s degree for a doctoral programme
  • Less than 40 years of age as of April 2023
  • At least 6 months’ work experience
  • Employer endorsement and commitment for reinstatement upon completion of studies

Please visit the JICA/DHET website and be mindful of the extended deadline. Contact mbali@mut.ac.za for more information.

MUT staff impressed by University of Zululand’s plans for internationalisation

MUT and University of Zululand staff in the Bhekuzulu Hall, University of Zululand. From left, Nganele Dube, Sthembile Maphumulo, Professor Nontokozo Mashiya, and Zama Sishi

As they were returning from a long trip from the north, members of the Department of Marketing and Communications were still in awe about what they were part of, at the University of Zululand. Zama Sishi, Director of Stakeholder Relations in the department, Sthembile Maphumulo, Schools Liaison Officer, and Nganele Dube, Alumni Assistant, said they gained a lot from attending the International Education Week at that institution. The University of Zululand has launched an International Office, that is headed by Professor Nontokozo Mashiya. All the MUT staff members felt the invitation came at the right time when their University was consolidating its own international efforts. They said MUT could use the University of Zululand model in its efforts.

Maphumulo said she learnt a lot from the trip. “The visit taught me a lot in-terms of improving the lives of international students and local students through collaborations with international institutions,” said Maphumulo.

All staff members were impressed by the approach taken by the University of Zululand, wherein it involved stakeholders from Africa and beyond. Maphumulo and Sishi said they were bowled over by the presentation by a speaker from Kenya. They said Professor John Wesonga’s presentation on what they were doing in the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, and how anyone who would like to collaborate with them could benefit, was impressive. Sishi also applauded the team effort shown by the University of Zululand’s Department of Agriculture, when they were making their presentation. Sishi also like the research areas of this department.  Sishi believes any similar department could benefit a lot from collaborating with this department.

The MUT staff members were also impressed by a presentation by Professor Mats Johnsson, from Malmo University in Sweden. Maphumulo said she liked the fact that, as Professor Johnsson said, Malmo University runs a workshop once a year where 80 universities around the world take part. Maphumulo said Professor Johnsson said participants in these workshops learn a lot on teaching and learning improvement strategies.  The MUT staff also commented on the level of support from the academic departments.

MUT student promises to win Miss Universities SA pageant

Good luck! From left, Nontokozo, Minenhle and Culekazi

At least two out of the three MUT students that will be part in the Miss Universities South Africa pageant on 26-27 November 2022 are confident of winning the contest.  Nontokozo Nkolosana (21), a second year Chemical Engineering student, from Lusikisiki, in the Eastern Cape, has said she would win the competition. Nontokozo said she has learnt from taking part in the pageant competition before. The latest contest was in August this year. Culekazi (21), also a second year student, studying towards a Diploma in Public Administration, has also sounded the same sentiments. Culekazi was more emphatic. “I will win the competition,” she said. Culekazi’s confidence emanates from her taking part in Miss Vibe FM in last December, and Miss Mzansi Supreme, in July this year. Culekazi is also from Lusikisiki, in the Eastern Cape. The other MUT participant will be Minenhle Zungu, a first year Marketing student. Minenhle is from Umlazi Township.

Bank SETA is happy with students’ performance – Bank SETA official

From left, Busisiwe Budulwayo, Cynthia Nkosi, Pinky Innes, Bursaries Officer, and Sphe Shabangu, one of the beneficiaries

The work of the Financial Aid Office (FAO) does not go unnoticed when it comes to finding fund for the missing middle as well as well as students studying for Advanced Diplomas. These diplomas are not funded through NSFAS, and this puts great distress on the University. The team from FAO has this year, once again gone out to seek funding for some of these students.  Andrew Kubone, Manager: Financial Aid Office (FAO), and Senior Bursaries Officer: FAO,  Cynthia Nkosi are the engines that have built years of relations with funders and donors that support the University. This year has been no different.

Nkosi said, “A good academic performance of MUT students has ensured the continuation of financial support for the Bank SETA. Bank SETA funded 63 students in 2021 and 52 students in 2022. These students are studying towards an Advanced Diploma in the departments of Office Technology and Management, a Diploma in Marketing. We regard the gesture as a great intervention by Bank SETA because Advanced Diploma students do not have any other source of funding except the SETAs.  We are very grateful for this funding because it covers the full cost of study.” Nkosi stated that they have a good working relationship with Bank SETA and the SETA’s visit to the institution was beneficial to the students.

Busisiwe Budulwayo, a Work Integrated Learning (WIL) and Bursaries Specialist at the Bank SETA, said they conducted monitoring function with students that are funded for bursaries and students who are funded for WIL programmes, by the Bank SETA. “On 5 October 2022, we visited the University to check students’ study progress, and to ensure that the students are still registered, and if they are still continuing with their studies,” said Budulwayo. More than 95 students are continuing with their studies, “we are happy with their progress. There are no challenges at MUT,” she said. The Bank SETA does the monitoring once a year.

Engineering staff wins best PhD presentation

Zakhele Zondi

In July 2022, Zakhele Zondi, a Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, won the Best Presentation award for his PhD presentation at the Cape Peninsula University (CPUT), in the Western Cape. Zondi was making a presentation with other students in the same level of study. Zondi’s research topic is the Modelling of a mass absorber to suppress wind-induced vibrations of transmission line conductors. An overhead power line is a structure used in electric power transmission and distribution to transmit electrical energy along large distances. This research topic discusses the investigation of an asymmetric Stockbridge damper that is used to suppress wind-induced vibrations on slender structures such as overhead power lines. The transmission lines vibrate because of wind motion and this causes fatigue failure to transmission lines usually at the suspension clamp where the maximum stress occurs.

Zondi says the objective of the study is to conduct experiments on a modified Stockbridge damper that would work more efficiently than the current dampers. “The effectiveness of the damper depends on the number of resonance frequencies produced by it. The current dampers are producing four resonance frequencies to absorb vibration from the overhead power line. The one that I need to design would produce six resonance frequencies to absorb vibrations from overhead power lines,” said Zondi. Zondi added that companies like Eskom would benefit by using the newly designed damper to protect transmission lines so that the transmission lines would last longer.

Zondi said what made his presentation to be successful was the confidence he had about his work, “I was not reading the slides; I presented my knowledge about my work. My presentation contained all important topics and sub-topics,” said Zondi. Zondi said he covered a lot in the 10 minutes they were given: the introduction, problem statement, the main aim of the study, research objectives, hypotheses, the research gap, and the significance of the study, literature review, methodology, results, and conclusion. The presentation was virtual. Zondi thinks there must have been about 20 students that made their presentations.

Zondi did his MEng at CPUT.

Nature Conservation academic encourages students from different backgrounds to collaborate as Fifth Industrial Revolution takes hold

Refiloe Ntoi

On 29 September 2022, Ntoi, a Lecturer in the Department of Nature Conservation, organised a debate that was held between the Engineering students and Nature Conservation students. The students debated matters associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. “The Fourth Industrial Revolution encouraged the use of artificial intelligence to manage life systems. Robots and technological devices are all elements of the Fourth Industrial revolution. Engineering students were communicating that we as humans need technological advancements, and they were in full support of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Nature Conservation students on the other side were advocating for protection of natural resources. Their argument was that technological advancements cannot take place at the expense of the natural environment,” said Ntoi. Ntoi said that at the end, she brought both parties together, and stressed the importance of technology, artificial intelligence as well as the importance of our natural resources, and the need to protect and conserve them.

“I told the students that both sides need each other. I said to them that the engineers create technology that nature students can use to look preserve the environment. The combination of these – technology and nature is the Fifth Industrial Revolution,” said Ntoi. Ntoi said she stressed to the students that the time for winning debates was over, what was required now was a collaboration between people with different backgrounds, who want to work towards a common goal. She said the Fifth Industrial Revolution was characterised by the collaboration between ‘human and machine’.  Ntoi herself has different backgrounds, among which are natural sciences, social sciences, and law. She said she found these to be very useful. Ntoi said it was important that students were “encouraged to discuss, debate issues, be inquisitive and to critically assess and challenge the current status quo in terms of the Industrial Revolutions.”

The event took place at the Durban Natural Sciences Museum.