NUL needs facelift - Ma­hao

Lesotho Times - - News - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

NA­TIONAL Univer­sity of Le­sotho (NUL) vice-chan­cel­lor, Nqosa Ma­hao, has urged “in­ter­este­d­in­ter­ested par­ties par­ties” to help up­grade the in­sti­tu­tion and en­sure it does not look like “a mere com­mu­nity col­lege”.

Pro­fes­sor Ma­hao said the facelift is sup­posed to be­gin later this year and seeks to make the coun­try’s lead­ing univer­sity more at­trac­tive to both lo­cal and for­eign stu­dents.st

Ad­dress­ing the media i in Maseru on Tues­day this week, Pro­fes­sor Ma­hao said NUL was cu cur­rently in a state of “grave deficit” in terms of re­sources which was mak­ing it look very or­di­nary and u unattrac­tive to stu­dents and staf staff. “At the mo­ment, w we are an in­sti­tu­tion which l lacks the

ca­pac­ity to at­tracta for- eign stu­dents and in­tel­lec­tu­als be­cause of the poor state of in­fra­struc­ture. For­eign stu­dents look at our fa­cil­i­ties and just by the ap­pear­ance of our univer­sity, they be­gin to won­der whether we could be the right col­lege to pro­vide for their ed­u­ca­tional re­quire­ments. In­ter­na­tional in­tel­lec­tu­als also shun us be­cause we look unattrac­tive,” he said.

Pro­fes­sor Ma­hao fur­ther re­vealed the Le­sotho Coun­cil on Higher Ed­u­ca­tion, which over­sees all the coun­try’s ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions, in 2014 gave NUL a two-year dead­line to ei­ther re­vamp its fa­cil­i­ties or lose some of its ed­u­ca­tional pro­grammes.

“The Coun­cil made it clear in its re­port last year that we must up­grade our fa­cil­i­ties with more em­pha­sis on stu­dents’ ac­com­mo­da­tion. This over­sight body gave us two years to do this, and was clear if we don’t do some­thing about it dur­ing that pe­riod, it could be left with no choice but close down some pro­grammes we of­fer,” the vicechan­cel­lor said.

Be­cause of the “huge task” at hand, Pro­fes­sor Ma­hao said it was nec­es­sary for ev­ery in­ter­ested party — from the pri­vate sec­tor, in­di­vid­ual busi­ness­peo­ple, the var­sity’s for­mer stu­dents and or­di­nary cit­i­zens — to come to the party and make fi­nan­cial in­put to the pro­ject.

The pro­fes­sor fur­ther said the pro­ject was en­shrined in the NUL draft Strate­gic Plan of 2015-2020.

“I think the whole process of up­grad­ing the univer­sity will take us up to seven years. At the heart of the plan is the growth of the univer­sity in its aca­demic pro­gramme of­fer­ing, as well as stu­dent-en­rol­ment. The goal is to in­crease stu­dent-en­rol­ment from the cur­rent 10000 to 18 000 over the next five years.”

How­ever, for NUL to achieve this ob­jec­tive, Pro­fes­sor Ma­hao said man­age­ment had since de­vised three ways to at­tract in­vestors.

“We have sug­gested three ways by which we hope to at­tract in­vestors in this cam­paign. The first one is through the Public Pri­vate Part­ner­ship (PPP) model in which we are seek­ing com­pa­nies or groups with fi­nan­cial mus­cle to part­ner with NUL and in­vest in the univer­sity through in­fras­truc­ture­de­vel­op­ment.

“Se­condly, we are look­ing for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance by way of grants. We are ap­peal­ing to or­gan­i­sa­tions, both lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional, to do­nate funds to us to ful­fill this de­vel­op­ment. And lastly, we are seek­ing fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tions even from the com­mu­nity and our alumni. No-mat­ter how much you will put in, we will ap­pre­ci­ate it,” Pro­fes­sor Ma­hao added.

Among key ar­eas ear­marked for de­vel­op­ment is stu­dents’ ac­com­mo­da­tion, with Pro­fes­sor Ma­hao high­light­ing the dire state of the sit­u­a­tion.

“At the mo­ment, the univer­sity can only ac­com­mo­date 1300 stu­dents. If the pro­jec­tion for stu­dent-en­rol­ment to 18 000 over the next five years is re­alised, the need and de­mand for hos­tel fa­cil­i­ties is ob­vi­ous,” he said.

“Again, a spe­cial stu­dent-cen­tre is needed. our cur­rent stu­dent wel­fare of­fices are small and in­ad­e­quate. And all this needs fund­ing, hence our spe­cial ap­peal for as­sis­tance to make the up­grad­ing a re­al­ity.”

NUL vice-chan­cel­lor Nqosa Ma­hao.

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