Polytechnic’s university status gazetted

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Windhoek

It’s official: Namibia now has two State universities after President Hage Geingob last month signed into law the Namibia University of Science and Technology Act.

The new law allows the Polytechnic of Namibia to finally be elevated to the status of a university, after years of back and forth consultations. The details of the new development are contained in the Government Gazette of September 14, 2015.

The Act allows for the full transformation of the former technikon into a fully-fledged university. The Act also makes provision for several structural changes, as well as the renaming of some positions, such as that of the rector, which has now been changed to vice-chancellor. The transformation of the institution has been underway for a considerable time and began well in advance of the Cabinet directive authorising the name and status change in December 2012.

Several rebranding campaigns will also have to be undertaken, an exercise which may cost millions.
Questions sent to the Council’s chairperson Evelyn Breuer in July regarding the rebranding exercise are yet to yield a response. When it started in 1995, the institution offered only 27 qualifications, but today that number has increased 120.

Council is also required by the Act to hold at least one meeting during every quarter of the calendar year and the first annual meeting of the Council must be held at a time and place determined by the line minister.

Many expect the minister to use the platform to try and bring unity to the deeply divided Council, which has over the past months differed over the manner in which the institution is being administered.

The Act states that the vice-chancellor is subject to policies as determined by the Council and is answerable to the Council for the efficient and effective management of the university, and for due performance of its functions.
Attempts to give discretionary powers to the vice-chancellor to suspend or dissolve the university’s Student Representative Council also failed, given that the new Act gives power only to the Council to take such a decision.

The vice-chancellor holds office for a period of five years and is eligible for re-appointment at the expiration of his or her term of office. Current rector Professor Tjama Tjivikua and members of the Polytechnic Council will continue serving until their terms end.

The Act will take effect on a date yet to be determined by the minister of higher education, the government gazette indicates.

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