ON COURSE FOR SUCCESS
“Our higher education framework grants us a unique opportunity to look into areas that really make a difference, at how qualifications can benefit the economy and society,” says Professor Stanley Mukhola, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching, Learning &Technology at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in South Africa. Sustainable energy, water provision and purification, and entrepreneurship are the areas that drive TUT’s socially relevant degree programmes. “We need great minds to really change our economy,” says Professor Mukhola.
Established in 2004, TUT has campuses in three of South Africa’s nine provinces – Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. Since it was founded, it has made its mark thanks to the quality of its research and innovation. In 2016, for example, TUT headed an international consortium with German research institute Fraunhofer IST. It was one of five applicants out of 135 to be selected by the European Commission Horizon 2020 to launch a rural water and purification technology programme known as SafeWaterAfrica.
A RESEARCH INSTITUTE
“We had an exciting year in 2016 in the area of scientific research, with the opening of our skin banking programme,” says Professor Mukhola, “which can supply skin grafts to repair first-, second- and third-degree burns.” The Centre for Tissue Engineering (CTE) is South Africa’s first national skin banking programme.
Sustainable energy and environmental preservation are pressing concerns for South Africa and TUT plays a significant role in addressing future sustainability. TUT’s Centre for Energy and Electrical Power works directly with local communities to explore ways to meet power demands while protecting the environment. The university also holds the National Research Foundation Research Chair in Water Quality and Waste Water Management.
While the majority of undergraduates at TUT are enrolled in science and technology courses, TUT is the only university of technology in South Africa to have an accredited business school offering MBAs and leadership programmes. Its Department of Auditing is accredited by the Institute of Internal Auditors in America, making it one of only 47 Internal Auditing Education Partnership programme schools worldwide.
AN ENGINE OF ENTERPRISING
A strong sense of entrepreneurialism pervades courses as diverse as fashion design and mechanical engineering, which give students both practical and business skills. “We need to empower our students,” says Professor Mukhola, “and that means showing them how to start up a company and manage money. Our graduates are creating jobs for the future.”
It is not just the students at TUT who come under scrutiny through evaluations. In 2014, a School of Education was opened within TUT to ensure the highest standards of teaching practice. “We have to consider how you get the maximum out of a course, how to make it relevant and how to communicate it well,” says Professor Mukhola. A record number of 15 doctorates being awarded in 2016 and the first class of industrial physics students receiving their degrees are testament to the high levels of teacher training.
As higher education in South Africa aligns itself to a new qualification framework, TUT is embracing the opportunity to build on its offering of practical, research-based degree courses. “We can see where we are going as a university,” says Professor Mukhola, “and as a country. This gives us the opportunity to do all sorts of new things. We are proud to be part of producing a better future.”