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Vice Chancellor swears to turn BIUST into Botswana’s “Oxford”

Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) Vice Chancellor Professor Otlogetswe Totolo is a man on a mission.

Totolo has hinted his ambition of turning Palapye, where BIUST is located, into a fully blown university town in the not so distant future. Professor Totolo has highlighted that he intends to lend a leaf from two of the world’s prestigious Universities at the United Kingdom known as city universities. The UK universities are, owing to their considered location, in which they offer quality education – consequently centres of attraction to the world.  

Professor Totolo told a delegation of editors from various media houses in Botswana who were touring BIUST this week that: “the dream is to have Palapye as a university town in the moulds of Oxford and Cambridge.” The two distinguished universities were even named by their cities. Oxford is a city in England which is known worldwide as the home of the University of Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Equally, Cambridge is a  university city in the  country town of "Cambridgeshire" Cambridge shire, still in England.

According to the latest 2017 world universities rankings by Times Higher Education (THE), University of Oxford is on top for the second year in a row and rival Cambridge in second. The BIUST Professor has a truly ambitious vision. This vision, Professor Totolo insisted during the editors’ tour that: “we believe Palapye can change its status because of presence of BIUST like it is happening in developed countries.” His dream, he emphasized, is to make BIUST an internationally competitive university and make the town- Palapye (and surrounding areas) benefit from its strategic location.

By so doing, he will reinforce his undertaking by producing tomorrow’s leaders in the industry and society through the provision of relevant, innovative, quality research intensive education of an international standard. In addition he said he will promote community, national, regional and international development through the transfer of the University’s knowledge and the provision of its skills and expertise.

The Vice Chancellor also stressed that “from 2000 going forward the current discourse conceives of the African university (like BIUST) as an ‘entrepreneurial innovative engine of development’ and specifically at the institutional apex of the ‘knowledge economy.’” So far the university has invested a whopping 1 billion pula of Capital investment. It has 1,716 students, top achiever intake, 70 Postgraduate, 406 Staff, and to emphasize their seriousness – all academic staff has PhDs, and they will keep the trend in recruitment going forward.
The university targets 6000 students (4500 undergraduates and 1500 post graduates) to be scientists by 2022 in which 10 to 15% will be international students to buttress its vision as a globally competitive university.

BIUST to be a Research and Innovation Excellence hub

BIUST, the only university, which specializes in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in Botswana, will also focus largely on growing research portfolio.The varsity’s mission is to produce world class research and innovation in science, engineering and technology contributing to industry growth and development and advancement of a diversified knowledge-based economy. Totolo said they will “develop high quality research and innovation that can be transformed into tangible applications and products and provide research services and facilities that can support the needs of industry and society.”

The University Professor also added that they will establish research groups and focal areas, clusters, platforms, and networks in priority areas as defined by the University Research and Innovation Strategy which are aligned to local, national, regional and international needs and demands. “We will deepen the integration of student research (both undergraduate and post graduate) into the academic curriculum and increase postgraduate research output.” He added that they will be the engine of development in Science, Engineering and Technology to drive the economic, social, cultural, educational and industrial transformation of the local and national economies.

According to Totolo, a consensus is emerging among policy makers and economists that at least half, if not more, of the economic growth in countries is directly attributable to Science and Technology. In a globalizing, knowledge driven world with increasing importance of service industries and technological competitiveness, this contribution can only become higher, he pointed out. He said they envision “to be a premier research-based university of Science, Engineering & Technology, internationally recognized for the quality and excellence of its teaching and learning; research and innovation; and engagement”.

To justify this, he borrowed former President Sir Ketumile Masire’s words in 1995 where he said “we cannot survive the ruthless world of today without harvesting Science and technology (S&T).  Only science led development will give us a chance to become serious players in the international market place.”

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