17 September 2018 Photo Lerato Moloi
New Principal for Qwaqwa Campus-Dr Matin Mandew
Dr Martin Mandew believes that the biggest challenge currently facing the higher-education sector is the lack of adequate and appropriate student housing


The University of the Free State (UFS) Qwaqwa Campus has a new Principal. He is Dr Martin Mandew, former Campus Director of the Durban University of Technology’s Midlands Campus in Pietermaritzburg. He has extensive experience in higher education, having cut his teeth in the academia as an Academic Development Tutor with the then University of Natal (now University of Kwazulu-Natal). He then went on to complete both his Master of Theology (cum laude) and Doctor of Philosophy at the same institution in 1993 and 1997, respectively.

“During my early days in the academia, we did some interesting educational experiments and pioneered exciting foundation programmes. I also taught Systematic Theology in the mainstream programme,” said Dr Mandew, a trained Catholic theologian holding a Bachelor of Sacred Theology (magna cum laude) from the Urbaniana Pontifical University in Rome, Italy.

His academic interest shifted after he was appointed as Assistant Vice-Chancellor: Student Services at the ML Sultan Technikon in 1998. “My time at ML Sultan helped me develop a keen interest in the theoretical foundations and practice in the field of student services and affairs. This interest abides to this day,” he said.

Coming from a multi-campus background, what challenges does he think the UFS would be better placed to avoid?


“Multi-campus universities have their own unique challenges. However, what often seems to be a frequently recurring issue, is the sense of disconnectedness often felt by the far-flung smaller campuses. This can be overcome through regular contact – real and virtual – between the campuses through senior leaders and managers, and through a structured exchange of academics and lecturers between the campuses,” said Dr Mandew, who was born and brought up in the multilingual and multicultural neighbourhood of Aliwal North in the Eastern Cape.

He believes the biggest challenge currently facing the higher-education sector, is the lack of adequate and appropriate student housing.

“This problem is worse at rural campuses such as Qwaqwa where there is a scarcity of private accommodation that meets the norms and standards as prescribed by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). We have to find ways of persuading private student-accommodation providers to invest in the provision of accommodation that meets the prescribed norms. This is not only their civic duty, as there is a return to be had on the investment.”

“A related challenge,” he added, “is how to better integrate commuting or day students, who constitute the majority of our students, in university life. We have to design co-curricular programmes that reach the wider student body and invest in the establishment of day houses to better respond to the needs of commuting students.”

What is his vision for the campus and what are his first impressions of the broader UFS?

“I have been very impressed by some of the important, though very difficult conversations currently taking place at the UFS. Like other universities, the UFS has to find effective ways to contend with the scourge of gender-based violence. I hope we can succeed in finding practical ways to put the Integrated Transformation Plan (ITP) at the centre of our endeavours in Qwaqwa, in order to realise this rather exciting and challenging vision. Needless to say, students have to be at the centre of these endeavours,” he emphasised.



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