Samuel Kadungure Mutare Bureau
Manicaland University of Applied Sciences, which all along was being hosted by Midlands State University, is now a stand-alone institution following the recent appointment of a council led by revered academic Professor Rukudzo Murapa.
Prof Murapa is former Africa University Vice-Chancellor.
Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Dr Godfrey Gandawa yesterday said the council was expected to meet soon to prepare the ground for recruiting critical personnel.
“The Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences has now become a stand-alone university. All along it has been operating under Midlands State University and three weeks ago His Excellency, President Mugabe appointed the university council whose first sitting will be on August 4, 2017.
“After the first council meeting, they will advertise for the post of Vice-Chancellor and designated staff to run the university,” said Dr Gandawa.
He added: “Our expectations are that Prof Rukudzo Murapa, who hails from Manicaland and given his experience as the former Vice-Chancellor of Africa University, should be able to lead and give proper strategic direction to make sure that the university grows.
“That is the direction we have given him. He must make sure that the university is set up, run and contribute to the development of Manicaland as well as Zimbabwe,” said Dr Gandawa.
MSUAS is multi-campus in nature, starting with the Fernhill Campus (Mutare), the Springs/Howick Campus (Makoni), Nyanga and Chipinge campuses.
Dr Gandawa said the STEM programme spearheaded by his ministry would influence the university’s curriculum.
The university offers programmes under four faculties – Chemical Sciences, Mining Sciences, Forestry and Agricultural Sciences -with degree programmes such as the Bachelor’s Degree of Engineering in Mining and Mineral Processing (Honours) and Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical and Processing (Honours).
“You will see that Manicaland University has a special niche in Mining Engineering which is in the STEM area because of the diamonds and gold that are here. They are also going to focus into agricultural sciences, forestry sciences and natural resources, so you can see their niche is more to do with STEM,” said Dr Gandawa.
However, renowned academic Dr Hardson Kwandayi argued that while it is true that the province needs Applied Sciences to develop, it should be a comprehensive or generalist one, offering a wide range of programmes in many disciplines in natural and social sciences, humanities, arts and management, among others.
“A provincial university focusing only on Applied Natural Sciences will not sufficiently serve the needs and aspirations of the people of Manicaland. Manicaland needs a multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary varsity. A specialist or silo type of university will not adequately serve us.
“A comprehensive university covering several disciplines such as Arts, Social Sciences and Business Management is critical to the people of Manicaland. For example, it will not make sense for an A- Level graduate from Sakubva to travel all the way to the University of Zimbabwe (Harare) or Midlands State University (Gweru) to study Shona or History or Sociology. It will be very expensive for that student and his/her family.
“If MSU and Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) in Masvingo have comprehensive universities for their respective provinces, why should the people of Manicaland be denied the same opportunity? For equity reasons, all provincial universities should be comprehensive.”
“Of course, they should have a special focus or niche mandated by Government so as to address national priorities,” said Dr Kwandayi.