The 2017 cohort consisted of :
- Queen Sekhosana
- Hannelore Olivie
Their feedback reports are below …
Conference feedback : Queen Sekhosana
Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) hosted the 24th Southern African Association of Institutional Research (SAAIR) Conference from 23 to 26 October 2017, using the theme: “Rethinking University Engagement in Africa.”
On the 23 October 2017 we attended the SAHELA Pre Conference Workshop with the welcome of Dr Juan-Claude Lemmens from University of Pretoria, which taught me the difference methods concerning data collection, interacting with leading scholars and IR approach modelling, it was also an eye opening concerning the institutional research, in depth source and networking. My most role was administration at the conference venue by welcoming delegates and coordinating transportation to the networking places Okapuka Game Ranch and Joe`s Beer House.
At an Open Campus meeting held ahead of the Conference, Dr Salmi gave a presentation on “Establishing World-Class Universities”. He provided a global perspective on the experiences of a wide range of national university systems, including Brazil, China, India, Singapore, Malaysia and Mexico, He also mentioned that world-class universities are the product of a combination of three main factors: abundant resources, concentration of talent, and encouraging governance. The role of the University to is to bridge the gap between rich and poor people and student centered. Universities are at the heart and stand at the apex of higher education; they are rightly regarded as drivers of development. Through their mandates of doing research, teaching and community service, university staff and students bring to light new and emerging challenges facing society – poverty, malnutrition, disease, maternal and child health and develop new technologies to ameliorate them.
Being in Namibia also became an experience as it was my first time visiting a historical country I had fun in the entertainment program, it was also a great honor to meet the SAAIR 2017-2018 ExecutiveCommittee members who actually gave me an opportunity to be part of the 24 SAAIR Conference. Ms Jaunita Frans ( Conference Chairperson) took me to the main campus for a NUST tour and Ms Indepentia de Walt organized a special radio interview for 4 scholars but because of time management we couldn’t do the interview. I would really appreciate if I am given an opportunity to be the assistant administrator of SAAIR, research is next to my heart and growing in the field makes me to be very proud.
Conference feedback: Hannelore Olivier
Thank you so much for the opportunity to be able to attend the 24th SAAIR Conference in Namibia, which has definitely been one of the highlights of my year. I also thank the hosts from the Namibia University of Science and Technology, who showed us such warm and friendly Namibian hospitality, and a lovely new ‘klank’ to Afrikaans! The conference theme, Rethinking University Engagement in Africa, was so fitting, being etched around the lovely scenery surrounding Windhoek.
Apart from all the festivities and outings we were treated to during the week, a highlight of the conference was definitely being inspired by the charismatic and energetic Dr. Jamil Salmi in his keynote address. It’s been long since I experienced such an instigating speaker who engaged and captured the whole audience with his humane approach and thought-provoking personal stories.
I believe that SAAIR’s mandates of supporting the gathering and distribution of Higher Education- and Quality Assurance-related information and discussions, and the prerogative to advance the professional development of individuals engaged in institutional research in order to improve of higher education, was again manifested during the event. This was especially evident in the quality and diversity of the participants in the many sessions and conversations during the week.
I have a great passion for quality education in South Africa, but as a Quality Assurance practitioner in the Private Higher Education sector, we are not always so connected to the QA and IR challenges experienced by the larger public institutes and universities, who are typically the attendees / invitees of these events. The opportunity to attend the conference, network with experienced colleagues, and being connected to mentors in the field, have significantly equipped me and my colleagues in the private sector for our challenges ahead.
Being involved in smaller creative subject fields like Applied Arts, Music Technology and Multimedia Design, I am a proud advocate for the innovative perspective and added value which our experiences could add to the mainstream HE QA picture, which may in turn assist in healthier decision making in future. In my opinion, inclusive institutional research which focuses on small role-players as well, will yield more valid and meaningful data, which could be used to enhance evidence-based decision-making processes and ultimately develop the lesser educational fields who might have been overlooked in the setting of high-level policies in the past. For example, private HE institutes typically address scarce skills in their higher educational programmes. Therefore, including their institutional data and QA challenges in the decision-making processes, could enhance the prospect of much-needed scarce skills development in South Africa.
Thank you once again to SAAIR to give me this opportunity to now also take this knowledge back to my colleagues in the private Higher Education field!