Pushing Academic Passion

17th August 2022

UKZN Extended Learning

– by Nkosingiphile Ntshangase

On the 11th of August 2022, UKZN Extended Learning had the pleasure of hosting delegates from Walter Sisulu University (WSU) for the Leadership Development Programme (LDP). This programme has a higher education focus and capacitates delegates in gaining the necessary skills and knowledge to handle what goes on behind the scenes in any higher education institution. This programme aims to improve governance, strategic operations of the institution, and the execution of the academic programme from a leadership perspective and formed key topics in the discussions that ensued. The higher education sphere and structure constantly evolve with systems and new technologies and need academics that can easily morphe with the changes.

Leaders should be mindful of the operations of the institution they are responsible for to mitigate any risks and better utilise resources to improve the standard of operations. Information and communication are critical in the leadership strategies of universities as we are in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). For example, the academic calendar’s start and/or end is either a very exciting or disruptive time for many students, depending on how the institution handles its operations. This aspect of academic administration is a continuous challenge due to economic, social, and political circumstances. That is why there needs to be an impeccable standard of operations for these transitions to roll out smoothly.

Delegates shared their concerns about the challenges they face across departments and academia. They expressed that meeting with students and colleagues alike to work on a way forward and soothe tensions that may erupt was a possible solution. University management needs a more conscientious approach to addressing the needs of students. It is important to include students in the discussions that bring solutions to the issues they face instead of thinking on their behalf. It can cause a communication breakdown and not resolve anything. This can lead to aggressive student action in retaliation for not feeling heard by the institution. University institutions should be an atmosphere for nurturing minds and knowledge development, focusing on creating a conducive environment for students to flourish.

Dr Akinola Ikudayisi (Head of Department) shared:

“One thing that I have picked from the teachings of the facilitator is the culture of employees within the university environment. The need for dedication and commitment in contributing to the system. It encompasses more than relying on management and leadership, but as employees, we play a role within the space.”

The Leadership Development Programme assists delegates with grappling with real-time issues within higher education and its operations. This includes gaining an in-depth understanding of what is happening while better utilising the time spent in meetings by bringing practical solutions from sharing different yet critical perspectives, instilling confidence in the system. Maintaining an academic vision requires leadership to be honest and accountable to the institution and the students it serves, inculcating a culture of value within the University.

UKZN Extended Learning can cater to niche needs as we provide in-house customised programmes for clients with our uniquely designed programmes that can apply across sectors and industries.

If you would like to find out more information about our Leadership Development Programme, please click here.

You can also contact us directly for more information about this programme:

Percy Sishi

T: +27 31 260 1234

E: Sishis@ukzn.ac.za