First private university gains permanent licence

Botswana’s first private university, the Malaysian-owned Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, has become the country’s first fully licensed private tertiary institution, after seven years of operating under an interim licence.

Vice-chancellor Dr Raphael Dingalo said staff and students were upbeat about the development, announced early last month – just before the graduation of more than 900 students, from several African countries.

“We are the first and only private tertiary institution in Botswana at present to be awarded the full university licence,” said Dingalo.

Other private institutions are still operating on interim licences, including New Era College of Arts, Science and Technology, Assembly Bible College, Kgolagano College of Theological Education, Boitekanelo College, Management College of Southern Africa, Gaborone Universal College of Law, and Imperial School of Business and Science.

Limkokwing Botswana authorities believe the licence will underpin the institution’s goal of being a centre of creativity and innovation in Botswana, where the government is working to diversity a currently mineral- and tourism-based economy.

Limkokwing regional director of corporate and media relations for Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, Mercy Thebe, said the university would continue to deliver on its mandate of boosting Botswana’s skilled human resources.

“Limkokwing Botswana’s class of 2014 brings to industry, government and society skills in managing new media technology; a problem solving mind-set that seeks innovative solutions to issues; and an entrepreneurial spirit that will benefit Botswana,” said Thebe.

Of the 945 graduating students, 205 were from the faculty of business globalisation and tourism hospitality; 126 from information and communication technology; 145 from design innovation; 291 from communication media and broadcasting; 113 from the faculty of creative media; and 65 from architecture and the built environment.

In addition, the university awarded Botswana’s Vice-president Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe an honorary doctorate in leadership. He became the third politician to receive an honorary doctorate from Limkokwing, after former president Festus Mogae and former education minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi.

Creating high-level skills

The Human Resource Development Council or HRDC, part of the education and skills development ministry, has said that Botswana’s universities need to hone their courses to meet potential skills shortages.

Dr Patrick Molutsi, HRDC chief executive officer, said: “By approving the new tertiary education policy in 2008 and a human resource development strategy in 2009, the government has made a strategic move to replace diamonds and minerals in general with human skills, as a more reliable and sustainable economic and social development strategy.”

The HRDC’s strategy includes a tertiary education blueprint aimed at ensuring that by 2022 Botswana’s human resources will be universally accepted as productive and high quality.

To this end, the HRDC believes, the country should seek alternative sources of tertiary education financing, notably persuading parents and the private sector to support the government in funding universities.

“We believe that both the nation and the government are not reflecting enough on the challenges of financing tertiary education,” said Molutsi, noting that tertiary education was still largely funded by the government. “We know that there are a lot of potential students roaming the streets because government cannot sponsor each and every student.”

Government is looking to the private sector not only to improve access to higher education, but also to attract private money into the sector and ease the financial burden on the state.