Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter—
University of Zimbabwe Chancellor President Mugabe yesterday capped 3 451 graduates at the institution’s main stadium in a ceremony that coincided with the varsity’s 60th anniversary. Founded in 1955, UZ is the oldest, leading and finest university in Zimbabwe which is involved in teaching and research and offers degrees, diplomas and certificates in various disciplines which include arts, agriculture, law, medicine, social studies, science, engineering, education, commerce and veterinary sciences.
It’s graduates are sought after the world over following the Government’s adoption of an Education for all policy towards which it committed a lot of resources at Independence. Said UZ vice chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura: “It is our goal to be among the top 10 best universities on the African continent by the year 2017.
“We are focusing on the right things to attain our excellence goal. I expect 90 percent of academic staff to be in possession of a Phd qualification by 2017. I expect the research output to be more than 10 times the current impressive output. ‘‘I expect the university to register over 10 patents annually. I expect our Phd graduate output to go up five times the 2015 figure. I expect the university to have perfected its developments of precision agriculture. I expect to have recreated the whole university to meet the standards of a top 21st century university,” he said.
He added that the university took pride in its achievements since its establishment. “This year’s graduation ceremony is very special in the development of the UZ. It marks 60 years of service to the nation and 35 years of service to post-independence.
“As we celebrate the institution’s development trajectory from the launch on 11 February 1955 to present, we reflect and take pride in its contributions to national development and the upliftment of our society,” Prof Nyagura said. He thanked Government for the support it has rendered to the institution since 1980 especially on infrastructure development that has seen enrolment increasing from 2 280 in 1980 to the current 13 000.
Professor Nyagura said new faculties that include Engineering, Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture, Law and Social Studies were also established including new programmes such as Dentistry, Radiology, Pharmacy, Surveying, Clinical Psychology, Geospatial Intelligence and Forensic Sciences.
“The university played a critical role in nurturing the establishment of new public universities among them, National University of Science and Technology, the Zimbabwe Open University, the Midlands State University, Chinhoyi University of Technology, Bindura University of Science Education, the Great Zimbabwe University and now the Marondera University Of Agricultural Sciences and Technology whose bill you recently signed,” Prof Nyagura said.
He added that the university had embarked on infrastructure development programmes that included construction of research facilities such as undergraduate IT research centre, construction of two lecture rooms for the Faculty of Social Studies, new computer laboratory for the Faculty of Engineering and a GIS and Earth Observation Centre of Excellence.
On research, he said they were focusing on assisting Government in implementing the Zim Asset economic blueprint adding they had also established over 100 partnerships with other learning institutions across the world. Of the 3 451 graduates, 2 812 were undergraduate graduates, 602 taught Masters graduates, 18 Master of Philosophy graduates and 14 Doctor of Philosophy graduates.
Among the undergraduates were 91 medical doctors, seven dental doctors, 50 pharmacists, 124 engineers, 93 agricultural experts, 389 accountants and 136 lawyers. He challenged the graduates to use the knowledge to develop the country.
“I wish to challenge you to translate this value addition into actions that will enable you to make a difference in the society and in the global village. May I remind you that the nation has put immense resources in you and now that you have successfully completed your education it is now your turn to give back to society,” Prof Nyagura said.