As part of the College Reorganisation initiative, Dr Bruce Nelson, College Registrar at the University of Edinburgh addressed an Open Forum for UKZN support staff on May 24. His talk focused on the professional support services needed in a College Model.

UKZN’s College Model was reviewed by a panel of international experts during 2010. The panel recommended the consolidation of Schools, a two-tier College management structure and the devolution of the critical support sector areas. A period of consultation with staff commenced early this year and implementation will take effect in January 2012.

The University of Edinburgh undertook a restructuring exercise ten years ago. This culminated in the formation of three Colleges of comparable size and status, each led by a Vice-Principal, with a College Office run by a College Registrar, in comparison to the initial eight Faculties. Colleges are made up of Schools, each of which is led by a Head of School. Decision-making takes place at School level. Academics have few administrative responsibilities, with professional support staff filling this role.


Nelson said that the devolution of decision-making and financial resources to Schools resulted in increased flexibility and responsiveness; improved administrative processes; a higher level of support for academics in the Schools; more responsible and professional financial management; and a better understanding of the strategic goal of the university. ‘It also encouraged an entrepreneurial spirit in the institution,’ he added.

Although many services have been devolved to Schools, examinations, graduation, some Human Resources services and payments are centralised.

Nelson also shared some of the challenges the University of Edinburgh faces and offered these as lessons that UKZN should be alert to and seek to avoid: ‘There are costs incurred from the flexibility Schools were given in setting up their internal organisation which results from each “doing things my way”, and there is some difficulty in aligning the professional services across the Schools to ensure that we are all headed in one direction as standardisation has decreased.’  Effective communication is an additional challenge, which Nelson feels could be overcome.

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‘Model student’, ‘passionate and dedicated’, ‘diligent’ and ‘intuitive scientist’ were some of the adjectives used to describe the prize winners at the School of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology’s annual undergraduate and Honours awards ceremony.

Boosted by sponsorship from an additional three companies this year, the awards ceremony was held on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus and was attended by students, sponsors, parents and staff. The three companies that came on board to join existing sponsor, Merck, were Inqaba Biotec, Whitehead Scientific and Labotec.  Deputy Dean of the School, Professor Dean Goldring thanked Mr Jason Kuppusamy from Merck, who has a long association with the School and the University, for stimulating the other companies to get involved.

In welcoming the parents to the University, Head of School, Professor Bala Pillay said it was a good opportunity for the parents to see what happens in the School and to meet the staff who are involved with teaching and mentoring their children.  He applauded the staff for their dedication and tireless efforts and thanked the sponsors for their support in recognising excellence.

The awards were divided into four categories: Awards for the Best Recombinant DNA Technology Students sponsored by Labotec; Awards for Best Third-Year Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology Students sponsored by Merck; Whitehead Scientific Awards for Best Third-Year Biochemistry Laboratory Techniques Students; and Awards for Best Honours Students in 2010 courtesy of Labotec. 

Each awardee was introduced by an academic staff member who gave a brief synopsis of his/her achievements and background.  This was followed by the presentation of the awards by representatives from the sponsoring companies. 

Mr Nick Walker claimed two awards: Best Third-Year Pietermaritzburg Biochemistry student and Best Third-Year Pietermaritzburg Biochemistry Laboratory Techniques Student.  He was described by Professor Theresa Coetzer as someone who, ‘always makes sure that whatever he does, he does to the best of his ability.’  Ms Kelly Weston-Ford, the Best Recombinant DNA Technology student on the Westville campus, boasts an impressive academic record: over 75 percent for all of her courses, except for one.  Winner of the award for Best Honours Student in 2010 in Biochemistry on the Westville campus, Ms Saffiya Habib, graduated summa cum laude for both her Bachelors and Honours degrees.  Ms Kayleen Brien, who is currently studying towards her Masters degree, claimed t
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Innovative Medicines South Africa (IMSA) and Sanofi Aventis hosted a prize giving event for four KwaZulu-Natal universities that participated in the First Things First HIV and AIDS campaign at the Durban University of Technology (DUT).


UKZN launched it’s First Things First campaign on the Howard College and Westville campuses in mid-March. The Campaign, which is in line with the Department of Health (DoH)’s HIV and AIDs Strategic Plan, aims to help South African students be responsible and get tested for HIV. It is primarily targeted at first year students. This initiative was supported by 17 universities across the country.


First Things First is a partnership with the Foundation for Professional Development (FPD), Higher Education HIV/AIDs Programme (HEAIDS), and IMSA.

Students who voluntarily participated in HIV and AIDS Counselling and Testing (HCT) and who completed a survey during March automatically stood a chance of winning a brand new Toyota Yaris.The student participants were unaware that they also stood to win other prizes such as top-of-the-range laptops, cell phones and book vouchers. These prizes were sponsored by IMSA.


‘I had no idea that there were other prizes besides the car…I am very happy to have won… however, the real prize is knowing my status,’ said Ms Mbali Manaka who won a black slim E66 Nokia cell phone.

The car draw will be conducted by members of IMSA who have decided to draw 17 students from the 17 universities, from whom the winner will be drawn. The final draw will take place at the fifth South African HIV and AIDS Conference that will be held in Durban from June 7-10.

‘The First Things First campaign has been quite popular and well-received amongst the youth of South Africa particularly by the first year tertiary students ... over 20 000 student participants … were counseled and tested,’ said Head of Public Affairs at Sanofi Aventis, Ms Thulani Ndamane.


‘Sanofi Aventis and IMSA will soon be me
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With the growing number of students entering Higher Education, lecturers face the challenge of teaching large groups.

Hosted by the Faculty of Science and Agriculture, international experts on teaching methodologies for large undergraduate classes, Professors Simon Bates and Lorne Wolfe presented public lectures and ran workshops at UKZN during May to help lecturing staff come to grips with these challenges. 

Bates is a physicist and Dean of Learning and Teaching in the College of Science and Engineering at Edinburgh University in the UK.  Wolfe is a biologist and Professor of Biology at Georgia Southern University, USA.  His research focuses on the ecological and evolutionary basis of biological invasions.  He has over 50 publications in peer-reviewed journals based on research conducted in eight countries.

Workshops on “Innovative Teaching Methods for Large Undergraduate Classes” were held on the Pietermaritzburg and Westville campuses. Lecturers from different disciplines were asked to share their challenges and what works for them. Some of the issues that were raised included language and background differences, getting students to settle down before a lecture, students’ expectation that lecture notes will be provided and the impersonal nature of large classes.   

Wolfe said that a successful lecture is: relevant; informative; dynamic; challenging; and entertaining. One of the ways lecturers can capture their students’ interest is to make their lecture relevant, like putting up newsworthy articles that students can relate to. He said that less is always more as lecturers always experience pressure to complete the syllabus.

Bates introduced some ideas to combat short attention spans and to encourage student engagement. ‘Always introduce in
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Abafundi abenza ibanga likamatikuletsheni esifundazweni saKwaZulu-Natali bathole ithuba lokuzibandakanya neKolishi lakwaHealth Sciences nehhovisi labavakashela izikole eNyuvesi yakwaZulu-Natali ngenkathi kunosuku olubanjelwa ukuchitha ulwazi ngezifundo ezenziwa ileli Kolishi, obelubanjelwe esikhungweni saseWestville  ngomhlaka 25 kuNhlaba.

UMphathi womkhakha wezifundo zezempilo, uSolwazi Sabiha Essack; usekela Mphathi weNelson R Mandela School of Medicine’s Clinical Disciplines,  uSolwazi Joyce Tsoka-Gwegweni; uDokotela Vivek Naranbhai, umfundi owabashaya bonke emakhanda ngonyaka ka 2009 nosanda kuqokwa njenge 2011 KwaZulu-Natal Rhodes Scholar,  bonke batshele abafundi abebephelezelwa ngabazali, othishanhloko nabaluleki babafundi ngemisebenzi, ngezifundo ezahlukene nangamanye amathuba avuleleke kubafundi kuleli kolishi.

IKolishi laka Health Sciences yilona kolishi elithola izicelo eziningi zabafundi abafuna ukwenza unyaka wokuqala kunawowonke amaNyuvesi aseNingizimu Afrika. ‘Kufanele wenze kahle ezifundweni zakho futhi ubalwe kwabakhethekileyo ukuze wamukelwe kulelikolishi,’ kusho u-Essack.

U-Essack uphinde wathi leliKolishi liyindawo lapho kunemikhakha eminingi, nabafundi abenza izinto ngokupheleleyo, ngeqiniso ngangokwezidingo zomphakathi belandela imithetho  yezempilo yase Afrika, bebe behlangana babanye baphesheya kwezilwandle ngokwezemfundo, ezocwaningo nezinye izidingo. Uthe izindawo eziningi zokufundela, ezokufundisa nezokwenza ucwaningo zihamba phambili. ‘Singezinye yezingqwele zokufunda nokufundisa ngendlela yamakompuyutha (iPodcasting ne e-Learning),’ kusho u-Essack.

U-Essack uphinde washo ukuthi bazama ngayo yonke indlela ukuthi abafundi bayekosebenza ezindaweni zasemaphandleni nakwezinye izindawo ezihamba phambili zezempilo nezokufunda ngalesi sikhathi besafunda.  Indlela yokufundisa kuleli kolishi ihlukene kathathu (problem-based education, outcomes-based educations ne case-based education). Uphinde wakugcizelela ukuthi izikhungo zezempilo eNingizimu Afrika zomphakathi nalezi ezizimele zinezikhala eziningi semisebenzi nokuthi abafundi baqeqeshelwa imisebenzi yokusiza abantu neyokwenza ucwaningo.

UTsoka-Gwegweni ugcizelele kubafundi abafuna ukwenza ezobudokotela ukuthi usuku lokuvala lwezicelo u 30 kuNhlangulana 2011 nokuthi izicelo ezifike ngale kwalolusuku ngeke zisavumeleka. Ukwamukeleka kwesicelo kuzoya ngemiphumela esezingeni lwe Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine. ‘Umncintiswano wokuthola isikhala unzima kakhulu,’ kusho uTsoka-Gwegweni.

‘Uma ufuna ithuba elivelele lokwenza umehluko ngempilo yakho, iUKZN indawo lapho kungenzeka lokho,’ kusho Naranbhai obetshela abafundi ngesipiliyoni sakhe enyuvesi njengomfundi namathuba avulelekile kuyena eUKZN asemenze waphumelela waba la ekhona namhlanje.

Abafundi bathe lolu suku lubanikeze okuningi labakhombisa ukuthi kufanele basebenze kanzima kangakanani ukuze bamukeleke e-UKZN.

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A motivated group of UKZN academic staff attended a Writing for Publication Workshop from May 23 to 27, which was hosted by the University Teaching and Learning Office as part of the University’s mission to promote the scholarship of teaching and learning, and support academic publications in Teaching and Learning and Institutional Research.


Conducted by a team of expert consultants experienced in improving publications for universities, the workshop was aimed at academic staff who already were in possession of a draft manuscript but who consider themselves novice authors, have a limited publications record and are trying to improve their publications output.


Professor Renuka Vithal, DVC: Teaching and Learning, said that in its pursuit of cultivating a culture of evidence-led scholarship of teaching and learning, the University was steadily growing a community of scholars engaging in innovative teaching and learning strategies and related research. Adopting a research-driven approach to teaching and learning has multiple rewards, she noted. Firstly, it forces academics to confront the tacit theories underpinning their classroom practices, which in turn informs new possibilities for responsive innovation. Secondly, writing about their praxis allows academics to put up for scrutiny the pedagogic merits of their endeavours and contributes to the expanding body of knowledge in the field of teaching and learning research.


One of the most valuable components of the workshop for staff members attending was receiving step-by-step guidance and coaching directly related to an article which they had to have already written based on the outcomes of their individual research. In developing their confidence to publish in peer-reviewed journals; participants received expert peer reviews as well as feedback on their work from experienced critical readers and accredited language editors. The support received will develop each participant’s article until it is ready to be submitted for publication.


Professor Brian McArthur, who Heads UKZN’s School of Information Systems and Technology said he found the workshop most useful. He added that there were numerous frameworks dispensing useful tips on rigorous self editing and noted the various developmental stages of writing and editing which result in ‘a good final product’.


Mrs Nondumiso Shangase who lectures at UKZN’s School of Nursing said she liked the way the workshop included hands-on experience in equipping participants with writing skills. ‘It was very informative, linking concepts and jargon the way we should be in our writing,’ she said.


‘A business plan should clearly state the who, what, where, why and how much,’ notes Dr Caroline Goodier of UKZN’s Faculty of Management Studies.

These are the lessons that the Integrated Business Studies (IBS), first year students learnt whilst preparing their business plans. The plans were presented to a panel of judges at the Graduate School of Business, on the Westville campus.

The panel of judges included Professor Kantilal Bhowan, Mrs Tamlyn Straydom and Dr Goodier, Dr Diana Moodley from the Faculty of Education and a representative from Business Partners.

The first year students were required to create an original business plan suitable to be presented to prospective banks, investors and corporate executives. This presentation is part of their continuous assessment. The students were also motivated to create original business concepts and ideas. These ideas formed the basis for their business plan. The students were separated into three business groups: the Drive Thru, Varsity Fashions and the ReTreat Lounge.

Each member of the group was tasked to manage a specific portfolio, including the Human Resources Division, Corporate Social Responsibility, Finance, Operations etc. The groups also had to elect four Corporate Executive Officers (CEOs). Each member had to do extensive research on their respective departments in order to familiarise themselves with the technicalities connected to their portfolio. The students had to also familiarise themselves with all the departments in order to successfully present a collective business plan.

‘The students were given guidelines to follow ... these guidelines and assignments related to preparing a business plan were given to them prior to this assessment ... Tutors also monitored their respective groups on UKZN’s Moodle programme,’ said IBS Tutor Ms Shannon Railton.

The Drive Thru business concept is a 24-hour store that serves customers on the go – whilst the customers are in their motor vehicles.

‘Most universities in South Africa are characterised by high levels of violence, such as strikes that turn into attacks, arguments that become assaults, friendships that end in date rape and hate crimes against minorities,’ said Mr Anthony Collins, a Social Psychologist at the School of Psychology at UKZN.

Collins presented a public lecture organised by the College of Humanities on, May 26  titled: “Normal violence, everyday rape and the most common kind of killing: how can we create a safe campus?”

He said that violence often happens between acquaintances rather than at the hands of unknown criminals. Tolerance of intimate partner violence by victims, peers and bystanders leads to many of these crimes not being reported, and allows these behaviours to become accepted as “normal”. 

Collins said sexual assault is often not reported, especially when the perpetrator and victim know each other socially.

‘The underlying problem is that we imagine safety in a wrong way, as a security problem. But because there is extensive under-reporting, this approach is not very effective. Most of the acts of abuse are related to inequalities between individuals or groups, and occur when social norms tolerate both certain forms of prejudice and the use of violence to negotiate social disputes.

‘The tendency to see violence as exceptional and apocalyptic causes dysfunctional reactions and impulsive emotional outbursts,’ said Collins. ‘Instead we need close analysis and sustained interventions.’

As part of the solution he suggested that universities need to move away from a reactive/security model to a preventative/social behaviour model, and to establish a specific institutional authority to address these issues. There is also an urgent need for core academic training for students on diversity, non-violence, conflict resolution and co-operative social values.

It’s that nerve wrecking time of the year again for UKZN students and lecturers, as stress levels rise and the libraries are jam packed with study groups, and those who revise better alone. Exam timetables have been set and the exam venues are filled to capacity with desks and chairs. But for students belonging to the School of Music, the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music (CJPM) was the place to be.  

The 5th Edition of the UKZN Youth Jazz Festival took flight on May 23 and 24 at the CJPM and culminated in an inaugural concert by stellar jazz vocalist and staff member, Ms Debbie Mari on May 25.

The aim of the Festival is to display the phenomenal student talent in the School’s Jazz and Popular Music Programmes. ‘The Festival takes place annually, and is a platform for students to perform what they have worked hard on throughout the semester to the broader public,’ said Dr Mageshen Naidoo, Head of School. He added, ‘We are working hard to establish the festival on the Durban Jazz scene.’

The School of Music offers a course focusing specifically on ensembles for students of jazz; part of its purpose is to train students in the skills of performing practice.  Members of staff and students from foundation year to fourth year/B Prac performed on the evening of May 23. They formed ensembles and performed two compositions per ensemble.

Foundation year students performed as an ensemble in the Festival for the first time after enrolling in the University less than four months ago. They had to follow the format on music scores and perfect their delivery to the crowd of older students, parents and lecturers. Diploma students, years 1-4, formed mixed groups and had more freedom to interpret and improvise music compositions on stage.

The fourth year B Prac students formed a five horn ensemble on the stage comprised of nine kinds of musical instruments. The guitarist, Mr Michael Stevenson, created a composition for the five horn ensemble to perform, titled Blink.  They also performed a composition created by Mr Jonathan Judge, Mr Sakhile Simane, and Mr Stephen Le Roux who played the tenor saxophone, trumpet and alto saxophone respectively.

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