Despite the temporary economic slowdown in the SADC region, the International University of Management (IUM)’s vice chancellor, Virginia Namwandi, says the privately-owned university managed to increase its student population to well over 8 000 at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Namwandi, who spoke earlier this week during IUM’s 12th graduation ceremony, noted that the institute has students from 12 countries, while enquiries continue to be made by prospective applicants. She also said IUM degree programmes are recognised internationally and therefore the student population from beyond Namibia’s borders is expected to increase.
“The operations of the six campuses have been very satisfactory and sustainable. IUM campuses not only produce market-driven human resources, but also their roles as regional growth poles are continuing on the basis of creating direct and indirect employment,” she said.
One of the strengths of IUM, she says, is the growing number of cooperation agreements through Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) and utilisation of such agreements in the context of the IUM’s charter and strategic plan, as the MoUs set out opportunities for collaboration and positive academic engagement between universities or institutions for mutual benefit.
Since the inauguration of IUM in 2002, it has signed 22 MoUs with other universities, management institutes and professional organisations. Since the last graduation ceremony, IUM also signed three MoUs with institutions, such as Raymond Dabney University in the USA, Swaziland Institute of Development Management and Mount Kenya University.
The abovementioned MoUs aim at exploring potential for cooperation on new or existing academic programmes; the development of joint research activities; staff exchange or mutual visits to universities/institutions; doctoral student training and development; student exchange programmes and the exchange of information in the form of publications and journals, reference materials and other results of teaching and research, among others.
She said the MoUs and the defined areas for cooperation are testament to the growing popularity of IUM as a knowledge hub for high quality academic programmes and research output in the context of a knowledge-driven economy, as envisaged in Vision 2030.
“IUM was the first higher institution committed to implementing the National Human Resources Plan (2010-2025).
“The annual curriculum reviews that are undertaken with participation and contribution of stakeholders are significant and ensure that all academic programmes are market-driven, relevant and useful for graduates to obtain jobs or for self-employment,” she stated.
One of the ways that the National Human Resources plan is being implemented includes the integration of practical work experience, or job attachment, IT and soft skills in all the programmes. With respect to new programmes development, she said some have been completed and are ready for rollout in 2017.
These include the Master’s Degree in Diplomacy and International Relations, Health and Wellness Management, Travel and Tourism, Education (from pre-primary to secondary levels), PhD in IUM’s areas of specialisation, as well as a postgraduate diploma in Pediatric Nursing to be introduced in 2018 under the School of Health Science.
Currently IUM offers 38 degree programmes, while 30 additional programmes have been developed to meet the labour market demands and are in the process of being implemented, Namwandi said. In terms of skills development, she said, IUM works very closely with key stakeholders, such as the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Among the topics discussed were the importance of on-the-job experience in chosen industries, the role of industry in training, IUM’s commitment to providing internships and deepening cooperation with the private sector as a key stakeholder in IUM.