IUM targets 10 000 students by 2014

Virginia Namwandi, Vice Chancellor of the International University of Management (IUM) discusses the institution’s place in the Namibian education sector in her first interview since the official launch earlier this year, of the new state-of-the art Dorado Campus.

PF: Can you give an in-depth overview of IUM?

VN: The International University of Management (IUM) has its roots in the well established strengths and experiences of the Institute of Higher Education (IHE) which was established in 1994 to train Namibians in Management Sciences.

The International University of Management (IUM) was launched on 26th October 2002 by the then President, Dr. Sam Nujoma. The aim of the University is embedded in its vision and mission statements, being in part to train innovative specialists for the public and private sectors for Namibia and other countries in the world. Our courses focus on Management Science in the fields of Strategic Management, ICT, Tourism, Hospitality and HIV and AIDS Management.

All IUM programmes are accredited by the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) and are registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). Currently IUM has the main campus housed in the newly inaugurated Dorado Park Campus, as well as in the Central Business District (CBD). It also has peripheral campuses in Ongwediva, Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. IUM programmes are also offered in Malawi through the ShareWorld Open University. The current student enrolment stands at nearly 5,000.

The University has five (5) faculties namely:

Strategic Management and Business Administration
Information Technology and System Management
Humanities, HIV and AIDS and Sustainable Development
Tourism, Travel, Hospitality and Events Management
Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development

We are in the process of introducing a new faculty, the Educational Administration and Management.

PF: What are registration requirements for students?

VN: For entry into the degree programmes, a candidate must be i) a holder of a NSCC Higher Level Certificate in four subjects with 1-4 symbols or NSCC Ordinary Level with a C symbol in English language, a pass in Mathematics and a C symbol in three other subjects totalling 25 points or more.

We also have a flexi route for mature age entry (minimum 25 years of age, JSC and five years experience in the world of work), non degree programmes as well as a preparatory programme are also on offer.

PF: Can we therefore say your degrees compared to other universities in Namibia and in the region are competitive?

VN: Our degree is placed as level eight on the NQF – which means it is an Honours Degree and thus a solid qualification. Our qualifications are focused at bridging the existing human resources gap that hampers the progress of national development agendas such as National Development Programs (NDPs) and Vision 2030. Our courses are highly marketable. Most of our graduates are employed in the Government, Corporate and NGOs while others are self employed.

PF: With all this strategic positioning, how do you view the Namibian education sector?

VN: The education sector in Namibia is growing. However, primary and secondary education system has not provided adequate background in Mathematics, Science, Technology and English which are critical if as a country we are to obtain advanced skills in Science and Technology to establish a knowledge based economy to drive the industrialisation process.

PF: Has skills shortage also impacted on your productivity?

VN: Nationally, skills shortage affects the productivity of both the public and private sectors and IUM is no exception as we still rely on experts from outside Namibia for the delivery of some of our more specialised programmes especially in the field of ICT.

PF: With the conference on education this year, what do you want to see?

VN: I would like to see a greater emphasis on early childhood education as this is the foundation on which all the other levels of education is based. I would like to see learners at primary and secondary level pursuing subjects which will allow them gain skills in key trades and an education system which can generate highly skilled knowledge workers in Science, Technology, ICT and Management disciplines.

I would like to see our education system producing skilled personnel who can use our national resources to create world class products and service to the local, regional and global markets and make Namibia more economically self reliant.

PF: Do you think the private sector has played its part in investing in the education sector?

VN: For the larger part, education has been viewed as the responsibility of Government but I believe this view is slowly changing and one can see a situation where the private sector is beginning to take a keen interest in education. There is an increase in the number of private education providers at different levels, while one sees the private sector increasingly responding to the call to support education initiatives.

PF: You recently finished the construction of the first stage of the new campus. Will this improve the quality of education or just the number of students enrolled?

VN: The quality as well as the number of students enrolled is set to improve with the additional space that the new Dorado Campus provides. The new campus is equipped with modern teaching aids and equipment which will no doubt add to the improved quality of the delivery of our programmes. The environment is also very quiet and conducive to study.

PF: Do you have any projects underway to expand your institution?

VN: Yes, the next phase which is scheduled to commence before the end of 2011 is the building of the hostels for male and female students. It is our plan to build more auditoriums and other infrastructure to provide world class education opportunities for up to 10000 students by 2014.

PF: Besides this new Dorado Campus, what are some of the major achievements your institution has had over the years?

VN: I will list them as follows; the development and accreditation of 33 programmes by the NQA, the registration of our programmes on the NQF, the graduation of over 3000 students since its inception, the opening of branches in the Northern town of Ongwediva, and the coastal towns of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, membership of IUM to the Association of African Universities (AAU), exporting of IUM programmes to countries in the SADC region, several MOUs including the recent one with UNAM.

PF: But what are your challenges in this industry?

VN: The greatest challenge is that of finances to provide affordable service to students and also to enable the recruitment and retention of highly qualified academics.

Currently our main source of income is the student fees and consultation fees. Due to our effective management model and financial discipline, we have managed to achieve what we have today. But we could achieve much more if we could access more funding to operate IUM more effectively in order to train more specialized human resources to realise Vision 2030.

PF: Finally, how would you rate the local education compared to regional and global trends?

VN: The current education restructuring process, progressive budgetary allocations for education (20% of the GDP) and the political will to place education as the first national priority, is highly commendable and places Namibia at a good level comparatively speaking in terms of where we want to see our education progressing to. I however, acknowledge that we still need to do a lot to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves. PF