DUT STRATEGIC PLANNING INVOLVES STAKEHOLDERS
By: Bliss Ndapasowa
The Vice Chancellor and Principal of the Durban University of Technology, Professor Ahmed Bawa, called upon all stakeholders to participate in moulding the institution into a sustainable university.
The discussion held at Ritson Campus’ Mansfield Hall entailed a conversation that was intended to engage all members of the institution in the drafting of the strategic plan for the years 2015 to 2019.
Professor Bawa stated that the main drive behind this initiative was to rework the initial plan that was set from 2008 to 2018. He reiterated the need to realign the former plan as a result of changes that have occurred within the University since the plan was initiated.
Student- centredness and engagement were stressed as the main characteristics defining DUT as a learning institution. DUT was also described as a social institution that does not only promote intellectual excellence, but a student growth environment that caters for social and emotional growth as well.
To ensure the accomplishment of these goals, the new plan comprises four strategic focus areas (SFAs) that will assist in upholding these qualities. These include student communities of living and learning, research and innovation for development, a learning environment and a sustainable university.
These areas will account for University growth (increase of enrolment from 25000 to 31000 students by 2019) through infrastructure development that will assist in meeting student needs. The learning organisation aspect is set to encourage every member of the institution to be involved in some form of learning to enable the establishment of a“responsive environment”.
Campus Health Clinic staff member Judith Mdletshe said she felt the non-lecturing staff’s work was not recognised enough.
“I feel the strategic plan must include monitory evaluation so we know what we are doing and if we are doing it right,” she said.
This is potentially a fundamental aspect as this sector deals with the social growth of students that the plan seeks to address.
It was however unfortunate that the majority of stakeholders, the students, did not for the most part avail themselves.
Jewellery Design second year student Nomfundo Dube likened the discussion to government initiatives that never reap results.
“They always do those meetings but nothing ever changes. DUT will always be the same so I do not think my presence was going to make a difference.”
Professor Ahmed Bawa on the other hand addressed this assertion, as he stated that saying the University is unable to deal with issues is a grossly unfair statement.
“Students have called for laptops, more wireless hotspots, extended hours of library operation and all that has been done. We are currently spending R600 million on infrastructure development so that facilities are improved. There are still issues to be addressed and we will get to them,” he said.
The plan, well presented by Professor Ahmed Bawa, is meant as a tool that will elevate DUT to greater heights. Lack of cooperation however stands as the only threat to its success.