When he tabled the Bill that will transform the Poly to University, Namwandi said the change in name and status of the institution was long overdue. He also said the transformation of the Poly is in line with international trends in higher education and that the transformed institution would contribute to the development of the country and ensure Namibia’s global competitiveness.
The University of Science and Technology Bill, once promulgated through Parliament and signed into law by the President, will replace the current Polytechnic Act. During the debate in the National Assembly this week, Members of Parliament (MPs) who spoke on the matter all expressed support for the Bill. These included the Minister of Defence, Nahas Angula; Minister of Mines and Energy, Isak Katali; Deputy Minister of Defence, Petrus Iilonga; Minister of Trade and Industry, Calle Schlettwein; Swapo MP Kazenambo Kazenambo; Swanu MP Usutuaije Maamberua; and DTA of Namibia MP, Katuutire Kaura.
Speaking after the tabling of the Bill, Poly Rector, Prof Tjama Tjivikua, expressed his joy over the fact that the process is nearing completion. “We are very happy that the Bill has made it to Parliament. This has been a dream for the Poly and we are about to realise of our long-term vision.
“The renaming of the Poly marks a significant milestone in the transformation of the institution and very soon it will enjoy the status and recognition accorded to leading institutions of higher education internationally,” Tjivikua said. He added that the name ‘Polytechnic’ has become somewhat of a misnomer as it globally refers to bygone educational concepts.
“First and foremost, it implies that the education output of the institution will be limited, and that preparation of students for a world requiring generic and transferable skills, will be inadequate. In that sense, the name ‘Polytechnic’ betrays our true nature as a University of Science and Technology. The changing of the name and status of the institution confers upon it the appropriate status and recognition because the Poly has for all intents and purposes operated as a university for some time now, and this has been the case since it began conferring degrees,” Tjivikua said.
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. This is reflected by the fact that the Poly has transformed its academic offering from diploma level qualifications, at the institution’s inception, to degree programmes as well as a range of postgraduate qualifications including PhD programmes.
The Poly has also transformed the focus of its academic programmes away from business and administrative education towards the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Programmes of study in the fields such as Computing and Informatics, Mathematics, Spatial Science, Land Management, Architecture, Engineering and the Natural Sciences have been introduced in an effort to transform the institution to a globally recognised institution of higher education. When the Poly was established 20 years ago, the institution offered only 27 qualifications. Today it offers about 120 qualifications.
The transformation of the institution has involved significant infrastructure development in order to ensure that knowledge transfer takes place in a highly conducive environment. The Poly’s growth has included the development of an Engineering building, an auditorium building, a library, the Hotel School, a Science and Technology building and the new state-of-the-art Health and Applied Sciences building. A new wing of the Engineering building is under construction at present.