The end of 2016 marked a landmark battle to keep the Centre for Innovative & Lifelong Learning intact amidst attempts to integrate it in the newly created Faculty of Information, Communication and Digital Technologies. That was the best of all battles I fought with the management of the University since 2014 when CILL was established.
The year 2017 however was the year of a complete turn-around when I was appointed as Pro VC (Planning & Resources), an appointment which came as a big surprise and completely unexpected. Although I never doubted in my own ability to take up this challenge, the aim behind me sending an application was completely different. I recall my good friend telling me "if you get interview, then it’s a chance to go and tell them what we do at CILL, and what is our vision of a university for the future”. This is what we did and we convinced them it seems…..
April 2017 – when I took over office I kept thinking why there were only two applications for this post, when many of us at this institution were certainly eligible. One thing that I realized though, the challenge was huge, but my previous experience in management and leading CILL and ex-VCILT for 8 years had given me something, which I even did not realize that I had. I knew in fact a lot about how the university functions, and I always used to say – ‘to change the system, you need to be in the system”.
I used to be a rebel thinker and a constant challenger of the traditional ways of doing things (i am still one) which had started to turn the university in a archaic system. I practically became a non-conformist. I had a different perspective of what the University should be and how it should operate for the 21st Century. I still have one which is quite different from the current reorientation but its worth saying there are many similarities. I had started to develop my own ideology and philosophy of organisational culture and values that would transform the institution into a better institution, according to me. So now I had become empowered at a higher level to do a number of things that I could not do at the lower level. Of course, I still have a boss (VC) and another colleague Pro VC to convince, but so far so good on a number of things for which I am given the latitude to act.
So what has been achieved in 2017? I will summarize mainly in bullet points covering the most urgent ones, which were pending since more than 3 years and which have been facilitated under my responsibility this year –
- Decrease in postgraduate fees overall at the university to position the University as a preferred destination for both local and foreign students.
- Approval of the University Technology-Enabled Learning Policy that remained stagnant since 2015.
- Establishment of a framework for the University to engage in the Graduate Training Employment Scheme.
- Approval of the Internationalisation Strategy for the University to ensure the visibility of the University outside Mauritius (supposed to be approved in 2015).
These four key elements above will hopefully set a solid foundation to ensure the digital transformation of the University as well as ensuring the long-term sustainability of the institution.
The focus for 2018 will now be as follows:
- Transforming UoM in a value-driven organisation and developing a values-led culture among employees.
- Development of an Open Educational Resources Platform for free dissemination of knowledge and content on a national and regional level.
- Implementation of the technology-enabled policy and upgrade of the eLearning Infrastructure.
- Capacity-building to train techno-preneurs through the BSc Digital Innovation and Enterprise which is based on a unique innovative pedagogical model.