Plan for R3bn WSU cam­pus in Ko­mani

The Rep - - FRONT PAGE - ABONGILE SOLUNDWANA

A R3-BIL­LION project will see a fully fledged Wal­ter Sisulu Univer­sity (WSU) cam­pus be­ing de­vel­oped in Ko­mani, with work to start next year.

WSU head of depart­ment of fi­nance and man­age­ment in Ko­mani, Patrick Bwowe, set out de­tails of the project – which is an­tic­i­pated to gen­er­ate eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in the area – dur­ing the Bor­der-Kei Cham­ber of Busi­ness net­work­ing ses­sion at the Queens Casino and Ho­tel.

He said the Enoch Mgi­jima Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity (EMLM) had do­nated 26ha of land be­tween the Ko­mani Hos­pi­tal and the Cal­tex garage on the N6 to­wards East Lon­don.

“We want to make sure stu­dents do not move away to study as far away as Cape Town. We want to bring some­thing that will be of great rel­e­vance and value for them in Ko­mani.”

He said the vi­sion of the in­sti­tu­tion was mov­ing to­wards pro­grammes that would keep stu­dents in the town, in­stead of leav­ing for other cities or provinces.

The lo­cal cam­pus had shown growth in stu­dent num­bers and by 2021, WSU wanted to ac­com­mo­date 5000 stu­dents in Ko­mani and a fur­ther 1 000 in Whit­tle­sea.

Ko­mani WSU rector pro­fes­sor McGlory Speck­man said: “We have com­pleted phase one which was the plan­ning pro­cesses for the project. We were asked to do en­vi­ron­men­tal re­search be­fore the con­struc­tion pro­ceeds, which will not take less than nine months.”

He said con­struc­tion would start in the se­cond term of next year.

En­gage­ment talks with the depart­ment of higher ed­u­ca­tion on what role the lat­ter would play in the project were be­ing held.

“We have been rig­or­ously try­ing to raise funds with the busi­ness world and we are look­ing for long-term part­ner­ships. This is not only go­ing to ben­e­fit the com­mu­nity, but their busi­nesses as well. The de­vel­op­ment will be a good in­vest­ment for Enoch Mgi­jima, which is at the cen­tre of the hin­ter­land, and there can be no eco­nomic growth with­out de­vel­op­ment.”

Em­pha­sis would be placed on a “green” cam­pus struc­ture.

“We want less elec­tric­ity, less air-con­di­tion­ing units, less ar­ti­fi­cial lights and more so­lar pan­els and re­cy­cled wa­ter. There will also be a di­min­ished ca­ble net­work – we will be run­ning in­ter­net with WiFi op­tic fi­bre which will re­place ca­bles.”

The tra­di­tional four-wall class­room struc­ture would be re­placed by am­phithe­atre-styled ar­chi­tec­ture to en­sure nat­u­ral cli­mate con­trol.

The cam­pus in Grey Street was due to ex­pand this year with the univer­sity await­ing the com­ple­tion of the ten­der process. It was an­tic­i­pated that this cam­pus would be used for com­mu­nity en­gage­ment where short-term learn­ing pro­grammes would be of­fered in the fu­ture.

Two new fields of study – in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy (IT) and bach­e­lor of com­merce in agri­cul­tural stud­ies – would also be added.

The Whit­tle­sea cam­pus would be used for sci­ence and agro stud­ies in the fu­ture.

EMLM com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Fundile Feket­shane said the coun­cil had ap­proved the plot for Wal­ter Sisulu Univer­sity, sub­ject to con­di­tions which would be an­nounced at a later stage.

“It is in­her­ent that com­mu­ni­ties shall duly ben­e­fit dur­ing the con­struc­tion and post-con­struc­tion. The univer­sity is es­tab­lished for teach­ing and learn­ing, re­search and knowl­edge de­vel­op­ment and also for com­mu­nity up­lift­ment.

“Cur­rently the univer­sity and Enoch Mgi­jima are busy deal­ing with some tech­ni­cal­i­ties and in due course, ma­jor an­nounce­ments will be made by both par­ties.”

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