Office of the Vice-Chancellor held a Press Conference on Monday, 17 January, 2022 at the ISAS Auditorium. On behalf of Management, Staff and Students, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Olusola Fajana addressed the media houses and emphasized his appreciation and gratitude for their presence. Prof. Fajana stated the purpose of the conference as solely to update the public on current developments at the University.
Prof. Fajana outlined the following issues:
1. Resumption of Work in the 2021/2022 Academic Year:
“Work resumed on Monday January 03, 2022 at the National University of Lesotho following the Christmas Recess that began on December 23, 2021’’. Prof. Fajana told the media.
He assured to the media that even though the university had challenges in the first semester (which included technological glitches, a strike which led to the exclusion of students from campus and the AUSC Region 5 Games), the Almanac of Events has been extended to ensure that students and lecturers get the prescribed number of weeks for teaching and learning before examinations.
He added that End-of-semester examinations will therefore begin on February 14, 2022 and end on February 27, 2022.
2. The Status of Teaching and Learning
Prof. Fajana told the media that even though students were excluded from school, teaching and learning continued, predominantly, online. He further indicated that International students and Postgraduate students were still allowed to access the campus during the AUSC Region 5 Games.
“With the resumption of work from January 03, 2022 teaching and learning are taking place in a blended manner with most work being done online while face-to-face sessions are used for practical sessions as authorised.’’, Prof said.
He added that The University is in the process of migrating its Learning Management System “THUTO” to cloud to address the current challenges arising from limited server capacity and high maintenance costs. This is a more affordable option that will allow more students and lecturers to access THUTO with ease.
3. Student Admissions, Registration and NMDS Loan Bursaries
Prof. Fajana indicated that during the 2021/2022 applications window, 4,420 students applied for admission into undergraduate programmes at NUL and 593 applications for Postgraduate studies.
He highlighted that out of 2,937 students admitted at the Roma campus plus 497 students admitted at IEMS campus, only 1820 are likely to receive loan bursaries from the National Manpower Development Secretariat. NMDS allocates a quota of 1,820 bursaries to NUL (1,620 for undergraduates and 200 for postgraduate). This means that more than 1,500 students may need to source funding for their tuition elsewhere.
Prof Fajana cautioned the public and parents at large that when a student gets admitted, it does not mean that they automatically get a loan bursary. A note was also made that the University no longer manages students’ stipends as the loan contract is strictly between the student and the sponsor.
On the issue of registration, Prof. Fajana acknowledged that the university encountered some ICT system challenges with registration of first years but reassured that the challenges are being investigated and attended to. These challenges are now receiving attention as they relate to both the ITS, the legacy system and Fedena SMS which is under pilot.
“We are well aware of registration challenges with some first year students admitted for the 2021-2022 academic year arising from queries on their admission status. These are being investigated but I may add that initial evidence points more to human error than either of the two student management systems,” he said.
4. Staff Recruitment (Director, Postgraduate Studies, Research & Innovation)
The Vice-Chancellor stated that recruitment of staff at NUL is overseen by the Academic Staff Appointment Committee (ASAC) and the Non-Academic Staff Appointment Committee (NASAC) which are both joint committees of Council and Senate as per Statutes 21 and 25 and their relevant sub-committees.
Prof. Fajana indicated that the university management is concerned by the misinformation in relation to the recruitment process of the newly established position of Director Postgraduate Studies, Research and Innovation.
“Once established, the position was advertised on the NUL website from October 07 to 14, 2021 and the advert was further extended to run from October 15 to 28, 2021, the content of the advert is consistent with the decision of Council when it approved Management’s proposal to establish the post and policy on Research and Innovation. Contrary to what is being circulated in the media, the recruitment of a suitable candidate for the post is not yet complete and no candidate has been offered the position,” he stated.
He added that once the process is complete, the ASAC will consider the recruitment report and decide on whether there is a suitable candidate to appoint. Only then will the successful candidate receive an offer.
5. Partnerships and Development (WFP-NUL Collaborative Project)
Prof. Fajana highlighted the importance of partnerships saying partnerships are a critical component of the university’s development and growth. NUL continually initiates partnerships which are formalised through agreements, contracts and memoranda of understanding. Currently NUL has in excess of thirty (30) partnerships that cut across the academic enterprise, administrative and other support services.
He pointed out that the World Food Programme (WFP) & NUL Partnership has been running intermittently since 2017 to date.
“(This project) is coordinated by a senior academic in the faculty who appreciated the concept and implemented the project to the satisfaction of the development partner. In this particular project, NUL has designated a project supervisor whose role is not linked to any position at NUL,” Prof. Fajana added.
In his concluding remarks, Prof. Fajana appreciated the positive collaboration between NUL and media and hoped for a sustained and excellent relationship in the future.