The cultivation of relationships beneficial to the university’s students, staff and other stakeholders, is a central part of how an institution of higher learning ought to function. In light of this, a delegation of TUT EMC members and executive deans, together with Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, the Finnish minister of education and culture and her delegation, participated in a two-part dialogue at the Pretoria Campus Council Chambers on 30 May.
The purpose of the first dialogue was to discuss the development of a stronger partnership between TUT and the Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences. The dialogue concluded with the signing of an MoU, extending the current agreement between the two institutions.
The discussion was facilitated by Dr Edgar Nesamvuni, acting deputy vice-chancellor (DVC): Postgraduate Studies, Research and Innovation. In his introduction, he said: “Transformation is a relevant issue, both in the country and within the University. We already have a relationship with the Haaga-Helia University which has benefited staff members.”
He added that the 32 staff members in vocational teacher education, who have already completed the programme and graduated in February this year, had nothing but praise for the course because it speaks directly to some of the needs of the institution.
In his welcome address, Prof Lourens van Staden, vice-chancellor and principal, spoke about the need to foster strategic relationships and alliances as a university. “Poverty and unemployment are some of the biggest challenges we face as a society. To address these challenges, we need to learn from each other. We live in a global village, which means we can share and exchange knowledge to find solutions to these problems,” he said.
The most prominent issues raised by members of the EMC were the need for leveraging digital transformation as an institution, but also remembering to bridge the digital divide as South Africa is a highly unequal society. Other issues include the graduate attitudes towards society, and the challenge to positively shaping student attitudes towards leadership, entrepreneurship and responsible citizenship.
The second dialogue was conducted with business delegates from Finland to explore new collaboration opportunities with TUT. Three universities, namely Lapland University of Applied Science, University of Turku and Laurea University of Applied Science were present, along with industry experts and representatives from the ministry of education and culture from Finland.
After introducing themselves, the guests spoke about how rapidly the world was changing and the need to take advantage of these changes. They also shared strategies to improve students and society as a whole. “We have had over two decades of online programmes and we really try to make it flexible to allow digital transformation to happen,” said Anthony Okuogume of Lapland University.
The guests also spoke about the transition from study to work life and how many graduates struggled to adjust. In response to this, they had developed strategies to incorporate specific industry needs to the curriculum, among others.
In closing, Jouni Kangasniemi of the ministry of education in Finland, spoke about their Open Science and Research Initiative to promote the availability of research information and open science platforms. The main goal of the Open Science and Research Initiative is for Finland to become one of the leading countries in openness of science and research by 2017. The initiative will support the implementation of the national policy agenda in a way that fosters the Finnish research system towards increased competitiveness and higher quality, transparency and innovation. This was the only initiative that was discussed at the dialogue.
“We need to start with the smaller challenges before we can tackle the big ones. Universities exist to help solve problems that mankind has, since they are centres of knowledge,” concluded Kangasniemi.
Dr Eskia Moraka, acting senior deputy vice-chancellor and deputy vice-chancellor of student affairs and extracurricular development, closed the meeting and thanked the guests on behalf of the University for the productive visit.
Source: Tshwane University of Technology