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Unisa expands footprint in KZN

Cllr Nomusa Mqwebu (Mayor: Ray Nkonyeni Local Municipality) and Prof Mandla Makhanya (Principal and Vice-Chancellor: Unisa)

Unisa and the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the land donation of Erf 1216 Uvongo and Portion 2 of Erf 1215 Uvongo for the development of a Unisa campus in Port Shepstone, KwaZulu-Natal.

Her Worship, Councillor Nomusa Mqwebu, the Mayor of the Ray Nkonyeni Local Municipality, and Professor Mandla Makhanya, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Unisa, finalised the agreement and ensured compliance by signing the MoU on 5 December 2018.

The land donation primarily aims to improve service delivery to stakeholders, in particular to enable previously disadvantaged communities to access education in the province, as well as enhance Unisa’s commitment to shape futures in the service of humanity.

In his address, the VC remarked that the signing ceremony was a demonstration of the practical collaboration that the government could have with the higher education system. “We are laying a foundation that will enable the university to expand its physical presence in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Our students from the province travel 120 km for services at our Durban Campus. The envisaged campus will, therefore, eliminate this burden and bring services to the students’ doorstep.”

He pointed out that, in many instances, the university became the centre around which the town was dependent for its existence and brand. “It should be possible to explore how the institution and the municipality can collaborate to leverage on the knowledge produced by our researchers to help develop the town and the municipality into a vibrant, economically, socially, and politically sustainable place.”

In addition to the potential collaboration between the institution and the municipality, the establishment of a campus in the town would open up study opportunities for young and old within the boundaries of the municipality.

Concurring with this, Mqwebu observed that the people from the South Coast had often felt side-lined in the access to higher education. “To therefore witness this day in my tenure as the Mayor of Ray Nkonyane Municipality is really an honour.”

She noted that, according to their 2016 Community Survey, only about 4% of the municipality’s population had a post-matric qualification.

“We, therefore, believe that this opportunity will address our need to access higher education and address our Community Survey figures,” Mqwebu said.

To close his address, the VC emphasised that “the relationship we are founding today will be of mutual benefit to the two institutions. More importantly, it will benefit the people of Ray Nkonyeni Municipality.”

In agreement, the Mayor made a commitment to make available a team that would ensure that the process was finalised as soon as possible. “We look forward to working with you for the advancement of our people,” concluded Mqwebu.

*By Tshimangadzo Mphaphuli

Publish date: 2018/12/12