Professor Bawa sharing sentiments from his days as a student before presenting to the VUT Faculty Heads of Departments.
On 7 June, Professor Ahmed Bawa; Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Universities of South Africa presented the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) Teaching and Learning Colloquium 2018 to all VUT Faculty Head of Departments (HOD’S) at the VUT Chamber Council.
In his presentation, he gave insights into the system statistics which comprised the number of students at different universities since the year 1994; the enrolment plan with a focus on measures to be taken in order to grow the number of students; and what needs to be done to allow the students to succeed.
He revealed the global trend of students who finish their 3-year degrees: 42% are females and 38% are males. It is not yet known where the male students “disappear” to and an investigation will be conducted to see what really happens to them.
He spoke about what is happening in the sector and the challenges that have arisen since the former President’s statement on free education.
He highlighted that students with a full NSFAS loan perform better than those who don’t have one and that the DHET bursaries will provide students with more security. However, students should not be supported academically only, their needs should be looked at personally, the learning environment should be made safe and they should be directed to relevant places within their faculties when they have queries.
He furthermore mentioned that there is a “growth legitimacy gap” both locally and globally: society is not taking pride in higher education. There is violence, poverty, inequality, massive global migration, rapid changes in the world of work and public health challenges and attention needs to be paid to these issues.
“It is the universities’ role to take students from poverty to working class. We don’t live in a cocoon, we need to understand and engage on these issues. We can’t sit on the sidelines and say they won’t affect us,” he said
The floor was then opened for discussion and it was concluded that focus should be on the issues raised especially those occurring specifically within VUT and that staff members be trained on how best to solve student issues.
Prof Kuzvinetsa Dzvimbo thanked Prof Bawa for the insights and for making sense of issues faced in higher education.