Varsity towns edge closer to reality
THE comprehensive review and standardisation of Zimbabwe’s higher and tertiary education, including the creation of university towns, is part of a deliberate effort to also lure students from the region and beyond to study here, a Cabinet minister has said.
The scheme - to be marketed through the Study in Zimbabwe Programme - has secured Cabinet approval, and modern architectural designs for some university towns have been completed.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said the first phase involved upgrading Zimbabwe’s education system to international standards.
“We want to start to structure our higher and tertiary education system in a way that attracts students from the region to come and study here. It’s within our first 100 days (work programme) and we have already started doing the work.
“We started that journey by standardising our qualifications and criteria for promotion of our lecturers through the Zimbabwe National Qualifications Framework. This is all so that our education and our professors can be trusted,” said Prof Murwira. ZNQF was gazetted in July. Government is now focusing on establishing university towns.
Architectural designs have been completed and approved for the University of Zimbabwe, Chinhoyi University of Technology and Bindura University of Science Education; while construction of student accommodation at Lupane and Gwanda State universities, as well as Marondera University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology is underway.
“Our next stop is university towns. The architectural diagrams for UZ, Chinhoyi and Bindura have already been completed and approved,” Prof Murwira said.
CBZ has injected $150 million towards the projects.
Overall, funding commitments to the sector have soared to $2,3 billion following the Higher and Tertiary Education Infrastructure Investment Conference in Harare on March 9.
BancABC is expected to pour $12 million towards infrastructure at the National University of Science and Technology Medical School and a shopping complex at the institution.
South West Group, an India-headquartered construction company, has committed to building learning hospitals at UZ and Midlands State University, while Chinese Poly International Group will build student accommodation at state universities.
Census Equity and the Zimbabwe Diaspora Group will also begin construction soon in line with Government’s vision to create university towns. The latter has signed a $125 million deal with Government.
Stratfin Private Limited has committed $300 million towards a state-of-theart hotel at the University of Zimbabwe campus. Feasibility studies have started.
On the Students Access to Technology Programme, Government has finalised agreements with Liquid Telecom and DevTech, a Rwandese technology company.
Liquid Telecom will set up Internet infrastructure and provide free WiFi.
A $5 million facility from DevTech will enable students to purchase laptops on credit. Prof Murwira said Government was engaging private companies that market higher and tertiary education institutions internationally.
“We plan to contract them to also market our local institutions outside the country on a commission and Zimcheer is still working out on the specific amounts,” he said.
Talks with the Home Affairs Ministry to relax the visa and immigration regime of foreign students are underway.
Architectural designs for students’ accommodation have been completed and approved for the Marondera University of Agricultural Science and Technology.