Sunday, 26 July 2020

The polemic surrounding University Ranking of UniRank ( : The case of UoM being 85th in the African Top 100

This is an interview I gave to the News on Sunday paper that appeared on 26th July 2020.

1. There is a controversy about the ranking of UoM. What do you have to say about it?

First of all, the ranking of UniRank is not based on academic components. It is a ranking of Universities based on their popularity, which is measured by the web traffic that passes through these websites. On the other hand, the media has wrongly reported that it is a ranking of RUFORUM. RUFORUM is an association of African Universities with respect to Agriculture. It has released a statement highlighting that in the ranking released by UniRank, 24 of its member Universities are listed in the Top 100.

Coming to the University of Mauritius, our web traffic varies throughout the year according to the different events that take place at the University. For instance, during our admission period, there is an increase in the traffic, while during the term time majority usage of the website is internal.

As an example, the University of Nairobi, ranked 7 on this UniRank, has about 84000 students enrolled, as compared to a student population of roughly 10000 for UoM. Another example is the University of Zimbabwe ranked 72 in the UniRank. University of Zimbabwe, has 20000 students. However, the University has listed its research budget to be 41M USD and it has about 800 academic staff. University of Namibia ranked 39 has about 30000 students, 3 times our current student population. On Webometrics ranking, which accounts for research outputs as well, University of Zimbabwe is ranked 40, University of Namibia is ranked 104 while UoM is 52.

So, what are we exactly talking about? What is the benchmark that we want to use? How reliable are those ranking in terms of a real assessment of quality of teaching, research and innovation of the institutions concerned?

We do not have an issue with the media reporting on this ranking, but our concern is that there is erroneous information that is being relayed by a few persons especially those within academia, with the unique motive to cause harm to the University.

2. Does this ranking has an impact on the image of the university?

No, it does not as long as it is being properly conveyed. However, the way this ranking has been portrayed in the media definitely impacts on the perception of the public on the University. We are not claiming that everything is perfect and that we are satisfied with the way things are at UoM. This is not the case, as we always want to continuously improve on all aspects of our operation from teaching and learning to research, consultancy and services to our students.

3. What the population should understand about this ranking?

The key element that we want to highlight is that this ranking does not in any way imply a decrease in quality of teaching and learning or in terms of research output. On the other hand, there are also other types of ranking, such as the one used by Webometrics, which also include inter-alia research output, citations and the research profiles of academics on Google Scholar. On that ranking we are 52 in Africa and 33 in Sub Saharan Africa.

The population has to understand that despite all what is being said, the University of Mauritius is still No1 in Mauritius according to both UniRank and Webometrics ranking alike. On the other hand, the population also has to understand, that due to our size in terms of the population in Mauritius, the student population, and academic staff numbers at the University, it is clear that it is not a level playing field when it comes to international ranking using metrics linked to web traffic for instance.

Furthermore, our degrees are highly valued abroad and are internationally recognized. People should not forget the University of Pretoria and University of Cape Town, are the top Universities in Africa and they have linkages with the University of Mauritius with respect to our medical degree programmes.

Monday, 20 July 2020

University of Mauritius launches iLearn, a MOOC platform based on the concept of Open Learning and Micro-credentials

Learn. Inspire. Lead – This is the motto of behind this new online capacity building platform of the University of Mauritius. This innovative technology, called XENOPS (now rebranded as XENED) is an advanced customization of Open EdX which is a well-known platform for the delivery of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

The University is championing the concept of micro-credentials based on blockchain technology where participants have the possibility to enroll on courses for free or for a small fee and will have the possibility to earn micro-credits that can be accumulated and transferred into recognized University credits.

The XENED platform provides functionalities to better monitor and track learner progress and provides a seamless and flexible online learning experience. The University has already identified a number of its online modules and open educational resources that would be offered through this platform. For the launching of the platform, an online course on Internet of Things will be offered for free to Mauritian and international participants as from September 2020. The course was developed as an open educational resource (OER) through the support of the Commonwealth of Learning.

The Pro Vice-Chancellor (Planning & Resources), Dr Santally highlighted: “The University of Mauritius has played a pioneering role in the development of education technology as an academic field and led by example in terms of capacity building of education practitioners and innovation in teaching and learning through technology. This initiative is another example of our broader vision to lead the digital transformation of education and opening up access to high quality training to build the workforce of the future in the country”

Mr Balaji Baradhazhvar, CEO of Crystal Delta Ltd further added: “We are proud to be associated with the University of Mauritius. It is a strengthening of our policy to promote Universities in small island states. We are already working with the University of South Pacific, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). We are particularly motivated with this partnership as it also entails research and innovation activities in the areas of blockchain and micro-credentials with the team at the UoM”

The courses that will be dispensed through this platform will relate to ICTs, Digital Literacies, Youth Work Development, Leadership Development, Human Rights and a number of other areas in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. The University through its consultancy unit will also be engaging with the different stakeholders especially the private sector to mount customized online training for the upskilling of their staff. At the moment, most of the training is held through face-to-face training on campus. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning & Resources) mentioned that in the long term, the vision is to broaden this initiative into a massive capacity building platform that promotes continuous professional development at a National scale to accelerate the development of Mauritius into a knowledge society.

Friday, 10 April 2020

It is not about the technology.....anymore

We have witnessed in the world over the past two months, and the past few weeks in Mauritius, a sudden wake up call regarding e-learning by many people coming from different spheres of the education sector, including the technology solution providers, when confinement was imposed rather abruptly and when millions of kids and individuals throughout the world found themselves to be out of school. What we witnessed after that was mainly a series of communications, articles, and rush towards technology. We heard about Zoom and suddenly controversies emerged about security. We heard about Moodle, Google Meet or Microsoft Office 365 tools to allow people to keep working and classes ongoing. Everybody was focusing on one aspect – the technology. As usual we witness a fierce battle from the solution providers but also the users and the corporate clients, where each one of them wants to show that the solution they embraced is the best.

And amidst all this brouhaha, the educator, parents and the kids are lost somewhere in between. We lost sights of the major stakeholder. The kids. We have been advocating for years about student-centered education. We have been talking about 21st Century Teaching and Learning, in which technology is not necessarily central but is considered as an important enabler to make it happen. Yet, in this time of crisis as it came unannounced, and for which we were unprepared for, in a number of ways, the basic instinct of many were to get into a race to show whose technology is the best, and who is the leader because they have some piece of technology in there, but which in reality, was under- or not utilized at all. No one focused on the practice, and the optimal use of the technology. Practically no one had a framework including a continuity plan for the educational services to continue with positive impact on teaching and achievement of learning outcomes in particular.

So, in this rush, we forgot about

  1. Digital Inclusion
  2. Organizational e-Learning Maturity Levels
  3. Quality Assurance and Instructional Design Processes for e-Learning and mass media delivery
  4. User Readiness and learning curve for technology adoption for instructional uses
  5. Technical and end-user support

Technology in education can be broadly categorized in two parts, namely high-end technology and low-end technology. Often, there is a tendency to think that high-end technology will have higher impact on learning and vice-versa for low end technology. This is not true as we can have a high-end technology with low impact on learning while we can have low-end technology with high impact on learning. When a course is shifted from a face-to-face environment to the e-Learning mode or to be delivered on mass media such as TV, there are a number of instructional design implications. If there is a need to replace a classic uni-directional lecture online, then a simple video conferencing tool with a PowerPoint loaded on it will suffice. The impact or the success of the lecture will be determined mainly by the knowledge/expertise of the presenter combined with his or her presentation and communication skills. On the other hand, if a traditional classroom for primary school children that follows a classic lesson plan adapted for the classroom environment and the whiteboard is going to be shifted on television or online, then this is a completely different matter. It cannot be simply transferred just by using the technology. The instructional design and a methodology are important. There might even be a need to rethink and adapt the lesson to fit in the new delivery medium. Quality assurance is key, and there is no room for mistake, professional standards have to be top in such situations.

The technology is not missing, the content is not missing, and the teacher is not missing. But the conceptual and practical translation and transformation of a classic “teaching period” is very important to ensure the successful transfer of knowledge from one point to the other. I must point out here that the knowledge cycle is not complete, as we are catering only for the transfer, but not for the application of the knowledge through learning activities. On television for instance, the knowledge application phase is difficult to ensure, and the knowledge transfer phase is single-paced, which may not be adapted for all learners, as it will mostly adhere to the one-size-fits-all approach. A convergence of technologies is therefore needed to ensure both the knowledge transfer, and application phases take place. All of this need a framework to be in place and to ensure teachers, educators and academics alike are at ease with, and have the necessary competencies to make it work. Capacity-building of teachers have to be on the operationalization of such a framework, and not rather ad-hoc training on scattered pieces of technology. Technical support to teachers is very important element to ensure the uptake is constant, as many will end up abandoning technology due to minor hiccups. This leads us to first of all gauge the readiness of teachers, but also engage in an honest assessment of the actual digital divide, as this is the most complex part of the problem. I do not have a quick fix ready-made solution or idea on how to solve this, except being tempted to say, let’s give a free TV and laptop or tablet to each household. Digital inclusion should be on the agenda of Governments as a top priority especially for the underserved population.

To end this piece of reflection, we have to also accept the fact that we are not in an ideal world, and despite all the things we may write about, things will not happen in an ideal way. I had highlighted it in the past, and for a long time advocated that empowerment of the teachers was an essential element in the integration of technology in teaching and learning. Decentralization of the digitization of the curriculum is important to be considered, as today we saw that educators who were volunteers came forward to conceive technology-driven lessons albeit in a disorganized way. Their goodwill makes them perfect to become the 'change-agents' of the future. But if we want to accelerate the digitization of curriculum, we need to find a mechanism where this is decentralized in a distributed instructional design process model, using standards, guidelines and rigorous quality assurance mechanisms to ascertain that learning via multiple media is meaningful
and pedagogically relevant. In this way, the content digitization process will be carried out in much less time to cover in full the curriculum and will lead to real learning transformation. 

Let us refocus on the process, the instructional approaches, and the pedagogy – not on the technology.

Monday, 16 March 2020

Teaching online if you have to work from home (and while on the move)

For a few years now, given the significant advances in web technologies and internet connectivity, I’ve been advocating against the use of the term “distance learning” anymore. At least not, in countries where connectivity is not an issue. At least not, within countries so small like ours (an island in fact) where travelling from one point to another is not a big problem. What I’ve rather been saying was that with such technology at hand (and which is still going to get better), that we had a unique opportunity: Digital Transformation of the Teaching and Learning process. To the layperson, simply put it – teaching and learning differently. Just as they would use WhatsApp or Viber to ‘telephone’ differently. As usual, very few would care, until we experience some crisis situation like the Covid-19. In many cases, tech-savvy and creative teachers are already using simple communication tools and social media to keep in touch with their students, sharing resources and interacting with each other. 

So, what are the options available to the educator (mainly targeting upper secondary) or the academic of the University who has to teach from home? The answer is quite a few. Unfortunately for some, it is still not clear in their minds. Teaching and learning differently in the new era do not necessarily need an eLearning platform like Moodle or be familiar with big terms like instructional design. Yes, such things do help but are not the sine-qua-non conditions to succeed. Others would be using Google classroom, and some despite having a Gmail or a Microsoft account would be terrified of the idea of having to use the different tools in the Software Suite which they never even bothered to have a look.  

As they say, there is no need to panic. Just ask yourself the right questions, and if you have the answers, then you are ready-to-go.

Question 1 : Do I have a reliable internet connection?  

The first thing to ensure is that you have a good internet connection. An ADSL connection of 10MBPS will be enough in most cases. 3G unlimited packages also work fine. 

Question 2 : Do you have a computer (PC or Laptop) and Smartphone?  

Ideally, a functional PC or Laptop and a Smartphone with simple modern communication tools (WhatsApp/Viber/Messenger) is fine. To start with you can have WhatsApp group with your students where you can start by exchanging messages, and documents (PDFs/Video/Voice Memos) with them. Remember you can run WhatsApp and Viber from your computer as well.  

Question 3 : Do you have a Facebook account?  

If not, well it is the time that you may think of creating one. You can create a private Facebook group with your students in it. It is an alternative to the WhatsApp group. You can also have both at the same time. With a Facebook group, you can share a videos, images, links, and also engage in productive discussions in the form of comments and replies. You can even have a live video where you can talk in real-time to the students. You can also do an offline video and share it with the students. You can organize simple polls with the students to keep them engaged.  

Question 4: Some more tools and ways?  

There are quite a few of them. I will enumerate some classic and well-known ones here. This list is however non-exhaustive.  

Start a YouTube Channel  

You can create an account on YouTube where you can upload your own video resources, and then share the links with the students. In this way you have your own video channel. To do your videos, you can use your laptop or computer webcam or your phone to do a nice selfie video (with photogenic effects, of course).

Start a Blog

A blog allows you to setup a kind of personal website in an intuitive way. People often use or to start a blog. If you have a Gmail account, it might be easier to start with Your students can be asked to follow the blog, and you can post articles and lessons there for them to read, and to interact by posting comments (in the form of Q&As) on the articles. In a blog article you can easily embed a YouTube video and other resources such as images or sound.   

Install Zoom for Online Meetings  

Zoom is a user-friendly software with a nice intuitive interface that allows you to setup virtual classrooms where you can conduct an online meeting (video conferencing / sharing your screen and your PPT) where many participants can attend. The lecture can be recorded, downloaded and shared with others. The free version of ZOOM allows for 40 mins sessions with many participants. So, you can plan accordingly, and have different 40 mins sessions.  

PPT to Videos  

New versions of Microsoft PowerPoint have an in-built feature where your PPT can be easily exported to a Video format. If you have done a set of PPT slides, all you need to do is to carry out a voice recording on each slide, and then export your file to video format. This video can then be shared on Facebook group, WhatsApp group, or YouTube and then embedded in your blog if you wish to add some instructions for doing homework via a blog post.

Homework and Correction  

While your students can easily share their own homework files (digital) or a picture of their handwritten essays with you via the groups (WhatsApp/Messenger) or via email, managing these and providing feedback can be a bit cumbersome for you. Still though with some patience you will be able to get through it. You can fix this though, if your students have a Gmail account, where they can share the file with you on the shared Google drive. You can easily open them, put your comments in them, and then the students can access these comments as you complete them.  

Concluding note  

If you are a regular social media user (Facebook/WhatsApp) and have an email account, you are ready to go. It’s not complicated to keep in touch with the students and guide them through the learning process. If you are motivated to go the extra mile, then a panoply of possibilities exists, where you can be independent of other people and systems. Still, with or without Covid-19, in the 21st Century that should be the standard practices to resort to, of course, notwithstanding the fact that, in a more regular situation, we can then use classroom time for more productive educational activities.

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Key achievements over the past 3 years (Part III - Final)

Innovative Marketing Strategies

The strategic engagement with the press through regular requests for coverage of events, press releases, the use of social media such as Facebook to promote the University’s activities and interviews of different officers of the University contributed to restoring a positive perception of the general public towards the institution. The University’s activities were also promoted through the different recruitment agents and video interviews of high-profile Alumni of the UoM. The University has been having recourse to professional digital marketing companies such as Keystone Academic Solutions to market our high-end dual degree courses with University of Arizona and Paris-Seine. Emphasis has been laid both on the local and international markets with respect to brand promotion and upholding of the University’s image and reputation as the premier National University of Mauritius. The impact of our actions has been clearly demonstrated by the gradual rise in the number of international student applications and increasing number of requests from different European institutions to participate in Erasmus+ programmes with them. 

The Setting up of the UoM Incubator

The University Council at its 439th (Ordinary) Meeting held on 31 August 2017 approved the concept note for the setting up of the UoM Incubator. A number of activities were carried out in the context of the incubator namely the Innovative ICT business idea competition in collaboration with the National Computer Board and the Ministry of technology, communications and innovation (TCI). Another project, in collaboration with the NPCC and the e-inclusion foundation involving 3 groups of students working on IOT solutions for SMEs was carried out.The SBM is currently funding one of the projects to help them move towards proof of concept. Furthermore, a module called “build your business” was developed and implemented as a pilot in the “Web and Multimedia Development” programme of studies at the Centre for Innovative & Lifelong Learning. The VFX Postproduction lab is also being setup in the context of the Digital Technologies incubator. 

The Digital Language Lab

The office facilitated the establishment of a Digital Language Lab at the University of Mauritius (hosted at the FSSH) and the procurement of the language learning software. After a successful pilot at the level of the FSSH and the CILL, the language learning project has now been extended University-wide to students and staff.

The VFX and Postproduction Initiative

The office has been working on this initiative since 2017, in close collaboration with the Vice-Chancellor, the Chief of Facilities, the Dean of FOICDT and the Economic Development Board. A working group had been constituted to look at all the aspects and implications of mounting courses and programmes in postproduction and VFX. At this point in time, the procurement award for the equipment and machines for the VFX lab has already been approved at Council, and the space to setup the lab has already been identified. 

Huawei Authorized Information and Network Academy (HAINA)

In 2017, the University of Mauritius and Huawei Technologies (Mauritius) Co Limited signed an agreement for the implementation of a Huawei Authorized Information and Network Academy (HAINA) at the University for providing Huawei Certified Training Programs to students and in-service professionals. Huawei Authorized Information and Network Academy (HAINA) is a not for profit partnership program that authorizes universities and colleges to deliver Huawei Certification courses. Based on its industry leading ICT technologies and global ICT practices, Huawei has developed a full range of ICT career certifications in order to support local ICT education, share knowledge, create more opportunities, and build a better ICT talent eco-system. Within the scope of this collaboration, Huawei has sponsored two lab kits, one for Switching and Routing course and one for the Cloud course which amount to about USD 40,600. The equipment has been received and installed in 2018. Two instructors have been trained in South Africa for delivering the Huawei Networking Curriculum and four instructors have been trained for delivering the Huawei Cloud curriculum. 

Capacity Building of Staff at all levels

To ensure that our staff effectively embrace and share the vision of the University to ensure a competent workforce that is focused and engaged, the University has engaged into a training needs analysis, and the development of a capacity-building plan for the staff. There has been a series of diverse training targeting staff at all levels (e.g. Tea Making for Office Attendants or Language Proficiency Training for Administrative Staff) and the university-wide training on transformational leadership is currently ongoing. The Leadership development programme is a spin-off project from the experience of the Pro VC after his participation in the University Leadership Training in Malawi by Ruforum in 2017. The development of a CPD framework for the staff is now under process to improve staff competency, capabilities and engagement.

Performance Management System (PMS)

Council approved the PMS to be piloted at the Human Resources section on a voluntary basis and other units of the University willing to be part of the pilot. The pilot has started at the level of the HR section. A committee under the Chairmanship of the Pro VC (Planning & Resources) regrouping the academic and non-academic staff union of the University. Once the workload for academic staff is finalized, the finalized PMS will be submitted to Council for University-wide implementation on a pilot basis. A workshop on competencies building and evaluation has been conducted with Senior Management by Mr Patil Hunma in October 2019.

Revision of the Leave without Pay Policy

At the request of Council, the divergence between the Unions and the Management on the issue of leave without pay has been looked into by the Pro VC (P&R). The different proposals have been submitted to Council and the issue has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Unions.

The setting up of a staff welfare fund university-wide

The University provides for a small sum of money to each staff for participation in end-of-year team-building activities. On the other hand, a handful of staff benefits from their full participation to be catered for, from specific funds earmarked for their departments. It has been brought to the attention of Senior Management that this is causing some demotivation among other staff of the University. Further to consultations, the Staff Committee has now approved that, henceforth, the University will set aside earmarked funds from revenue generating activities in a consolidated fund, which will be used to promote team-building activities across the University.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Key achievements over the past three years (Part II)

Streamlining approval procedures of MoUs and Agreements

To address the red-taping issues related to the processing of MoUs and Agreements, while ensuring that key procedures are adhered to within the principles of good governance, the office of Planning & Resources has reviewed the procedure in consultation with the key stakeholders to streamline the processes and administrative burden to improve efficiencies at all levels.

The Information Technology Strategy Committee (ITSC)

The ITSC (previously Information Technology Advisory Committee) is chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (P&R). The main terms of reference of the ITSC is to serve as a platform for brainstorming about strategic IT to support the educational strategy of the University and to act as an an advisory body to the University with respect to the use of ICTs to improve business processes. The work of the committee for the past three years has been to focus on the improvement of admissions and student application processes, including online payment via credit card and upload of supporting documents for international students. The ITSC also looks at different IT policies and their institutional and legal implications prior to recommending to the Council for approval (e.g. Cyber-Insurance policy and IT Business Continuity Plan). The UoM dashboard is also operational to provide real-time information to decision-makers during the marketing phases of our courses preceding each intake. 

The GTES Policy Framework 
The Graduate Training Employment Scheme is a project of Government through the HRDC to promote re-skilling of unemployed graduates in key sectors and to guarantee them employment in the private sector. This was a multi-impact project which would improve the employability of young unemployed graduates, promote industry-academia partnerships and generating revenue. In 2017, the University of Mauritius was lagging behind in its involvement in GTES for a lack of policy framework in place. The approval of the GTES policy framework by the Council kickstarted the University’s involvement in the GTES project. The total approved project value under GTES by the HRDC is approximately MUR 18M. A collaboration with another IT company name is already underway. Ceridian will fund the setting up of a digital innovation lab at the University. A project in AI training worth 7M has been approved in February 2020. This brings our fund-raising total on GTES projects alone, to 25M MUR over the past three years, while it was practically NIL from 2015-2017. 

Joint offer of MA Educational Leadership with University of Seychelles
This is a pioneering and innovative educational project, whereby a full-fledged fee-paying Masters programme has been mounted solely from open educational resources and offered fully online in collaboration with University of Seychelles. In the first intake, approximately 40 educators (including 25 Seychelles educators) embarked on this programme. The experience from this innovative online project will be used as steppingstone to widen the eLearning initiative of the University. 
Achieving Financial Resilience

The different strategies put forward by the Senior Management team with respect to budget preparation, promotion of revenue generating activities, efficient marketing to increase postgraduate and international student numbers, and improvement of efficiency at different levels has resulted in an accounting surplus in 2019 in the official accounts, as approved by Council of the University after recent struggles of the University to cope with recurring budgetary deficits.

The Technology-Enabled Learning Policy

The eLearning initiative started in 2001 at the University of Mauritius through the Virtual Centre for Innovative Learning Technologies as the pioneer of ICTs in Education in Mauritius. However, the University has struggled over the years, with respect to the direction for education technologies, and to promote the uptake of innovative technology-enabled pedagogies by academics of the institution. In 2017, the technology-enabled learning policy developed by the P&R office in consultation with CILL and Faculties was finally approved at Council. This policy is an important enabler for the success of the Learner-Centered Credit System (LCCS) initiative, led by the office of Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academia). It is also an important aspect of the University’s plan to diversify revenue streams through online learning provisions over the African region.
Innovative Marketing Strategies

The strategic engagement with the press through regular requests for coverage of events, press releases, the use of social media such as Facebook to promote the University’s activities and interviews of different officers of the University contributed to restore a positive perception of the general public towards the institution. The University’s activities were also promoted through the different recruitment agents and video interviews of high-profile Alumni of the UoM. The University has been having recourse to professional digital marketing companies such as Keystone Academic Solutions to market our high-end dual degree courses with University of Arizona and Paris-Seine. Emphasis has been laid both on the local and international markets with respect to brand promotion and upholding of the University’s image and reputation as the premier National University of Mauritius. The impact of our actions has been clearly demonstrated by the gradual rise in the number of international student applications and increasing number of requests from different European institutions to participate in Erasmus+ programmes with them.

Key achievements over the past three years (Part 1)

Three years are nearly over. Roughly two months remain before my present term as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning & Resources) comes to an end. From that point, there are two possible routes - a renewal for another final term of three years, or I get back to my position as Associate Professor at the Centre for Innovative and Lifelong Learning (CILL). Either way, I am quite happy to take up the challenge again or to work to become a Professor, the ultimate target of any academic career. Some of the key achievements of my office during the past three years are highlighted below:

Pre-2017. The University was undergoing a difficult phase and the image of the University had been compromised because of bad press. The Strategic Plan 2015-2020 was approved, but key policies to foster the development of the strategic directions were not in place. The Finances of the University were always in the red, and this has resulted in unwanted negative publicity for the institution. There was practically no marketing strategy, except the classic press adverts, and sporadic uses of social media. Fund-raising was at its lowest point and the office of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning & Resources) was often wrongly perceived on this aspect. Staff morale overall was low and the yearly training vote for non-academic staff was not used to the maximum, while the academic community was exasperated at the lack of research funding available and the suspension of the conference attendance scheme for approximately two years. Red taping at the institutional level was so high that the University was inefficient in multiple dimensions, for instance, from the approval of Memorandum of Understanding to the signature of simple GTES agreements. Postgraduate student numbers were on the steep decline while fees charged kept increasing, without a proper horizon scanning of the environment surrounding us and the strategies that were being adopted by other TEIs.

Flexible and Competitive Fee Structure

During the academic years preceding the 2017/2018 intake, the fee structure of the UoM postgraduate programs was on the high side and kept increasing every year, to compensate for the University’s policy to maintain undergraduate general fees constantly. This policy of increasing postgraduate fees was a detriment to the overall student intake at postgraduate levels, while the policy was to actually focus on more postgraduate programmes. As from the academic year 2017/2018, the University authorities successfully managed to review the General Fees upwards. This provided an opportunity for the office of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning & Resources) to revise the postgraduate fee structures for local and international students, and the undergraduate fee structures for international students.

The International Affairs Office and the International Strategy

On its meeting of 31st August 2017, Council approved the Strategy and the setting up of an International Affairs Office (IAO) at the University of Mauritius to drive and implement actions and initiatives to enhance the global visibility of the UoM. The International Affairs Office is actually operating under the P&R office, with only one Administrative Manager and one Administrative Officer. Since the setting of the International Affairs office, a number of key indicators have been on the rise namely the number of Erasmus+ Exchange Agreements and staff exchanges, the number of international students, and the hosting of visitors and delegations. In the context of the Internationalization of the University, and as outcomes of the different participation of the Pro VC P&R office in international student recruitment fairs, the University has approved the policy principle to work with recruitment agents to increase the international student population of the University. 

University Net Revenue from Consultancies (UDF)

Consultancy activities constitute an important aspect of the University’s activities that generate additional revenue for the University and for the academic and support staff. The opportunity to engage in Consultancies results in benefits that are multifold for the staff community. The first benefit is that it can improve job satisfaction and leads to improved engagement and commitment to one’s job, increased revenue for the staff, better staff retention and contributes to the reputation of the University on the professional market. The focus on improved services to the academic and non-academic staff community has led to an increase in the overall consultancy contracts value over the past years. As a consequence, there has been a steady increase in the revenue for the UoM that contributes towards the University Development Fund (UDF).  

Setting-up of the Office of Marketing and Externally Funded Activities

This was a recommendation of the visitor’s report. The setting up of the office has been approved by the Council. Since 2017, the University has been engaging itself in innovative and more impactful ways of marketing its various activities and services. The re-establishment of the “Consultancy Watch” helped the unit in identifying key opportunities for project bidding. The Consultancy activities of the University has experienced a consequent increase in total project value since 2017. Consultancy enhances the reputation of the University and brings funds to the University Development Fund, which has been used for key development projects of the University.

The polemic surrounding University Ranking of UniRank ( : The case of UoM being 85th in the African Top 100

This is an interview I gave to the News on Sunday paper that appeared on 26th July 2020. 1. There is a controversy about the ranking of ...