Dr Siwela Jeffrey Baloyi is currently a Researcher at Mintek and the Vaal University of Technology’s (VUT) Alumnus. He completed his qualifications from National Diploma to Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering in VUT.
He acquired his research skills from VUT while studying towards his Master’s Degree. “During my time at VUT, we had one of the best water research centres which was Centre for Renewable Energy and Water (CREW)… It is evident from the National Award we won under Water Research Commission of South Africa in 2014” he said. His recent recognition is in the category of Science and Technology.
VUT fulfilled his educational expectations as he was from a very poor background and VUT was the only hope for a better future, considering its fees and quality of engineering qualifications offered.
“In honesty, VUT was the only higher learning institution my family could afford registration fee for back then… and I was also encouraged by number of successful people around me who studied at VUT, Oh yes not forgetting to be close to SASOL (Largest Chemical Company worldwide) and seeing Eskom Colling towers almost every day”, he said.
His experience at VUT was the best and with a lot of dedicated individuals. “It had many local people lecturing us… It was easy for us to relate their journey to the one we were beginning to travel” he added.
He mentioned that at VUT there has been improvement in terms of resources, but the culture of learning and teaching is worse now. “I have noticed a rise in nepotism which has affected the institution negatively. Good researchers left the institution. This is evident with the new hobbies of in and out of administration in the recent years. The focus has shifted from the core values of higher learning institutions”, he elaborated.
He believes that VUT can change, “starting by employing young South Africans into meaningful positions especially at postgraduate level to do research. The institutional output does not look good, it needs young people to shake it up.” he mentioned.
Furthermore, he said that, former students of VUT need to keep in contact with the institution to help it to realise its full potential and this is currently not happening. He is currently not aware of any Alumni programmes/activities that he can participate in. He rates VUT second last, because of what is happening currently. “We have lost a good spot we occupied for years… With the likes of Durban University of Technology (DUT) emerging against the odd we definitely have no excuse” he concluded.
Article by: Nontobeko Zondi