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01 October 2020 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Supplied
Siphamandla Shabangu hopes to develop intercontinental networks during the Qatar University webinar.

“Assume you are in a leadership position, what can you do to improve the future of higher education?”
This is one of the questions Qwaqwa Campus SRC member, Siphamandla Shabangu, will be discussing during an international webinar to be hosted by Qatar University on Monday 5 October 2020. He will represent the University of the Free State, South Africa, and the African continent as a panellist to discuss the topic: Preparing for an Unpredictable Future: Global Insights from Higher Education Students. 

“Words to describe how it feels to represent not only my campus or institution, but the whole South African nation can never express this new feeling I have,” said Siphamandla. “I have never been afforded such an auspicious opportunity. This is indeed a new feeling for me, and I will do my best to turn it into a habit. I am honoured to have been selected to represent South Africa in a global academic and leadership space. I am a proud UFS ambassador and hope to one day become the face of the University of the Free State,” he added.

Tough selection process

Siphamandla revealed that the process of selection started with the Career Development office on campus. “I was selected among many greater minds on the Qwaqwa Campus. Fortunately, I further prospered among students across all three campuses of the University of the Free State, and finally became one of the best among the greats. Now, I am proud to be part of six unique panellists from different countries to unpack the impact of COVID-19 on institutions of higher learning. In fact, it is a prestigious honour to be the only African panellist – black African for that matter – in this global panel discussion,” he said.

Looking forward to the webinar

“I would very much like to acquire student lived experiences from countries outside the continent during the COVID-19 pandemic. I am also interested to know what methods of learning are sustainably applied at higher learning institutions from the perspectives of developing and highly developed countries. Moreover, I am eager to find out as to what leadership-inspired methods work best in different continents within the educational space that is gradually consumed by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Furthermore, I am looking forward to developing international and intercontinental networks that will equip me to best explore opportunities across the globe. The academic space is dominated by intellects, visionaries, hustlers, lifelong learners, problem solvers, and even creative thinkers such as artists. However, it is within us to broaden the potential we have in life. It would be gratifying to know higher education systems from other prominent countries,” said Siphamandla.

The panel discussion will take place on Monday 5 October from 12:00 to13:00 (South African time). Other panellists are from the United Kingdom, Russia, Japan, Turkey, and Qatar. 

Siphamandla is currently serving as the SRC member responsible for Universal Access and Social Justice Council.

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