Yusuf Karodia: Securing a brighter future for South African students

Professor Yusuf Karodia

PRESS OFFICE: Djembe Communications

Across the African continent, countries are striving towards economic growth that is underpinned by an educated population. Traditional barriers to education within the African context are fast disappearing as technology becomes more accessible and affordable. As a result, Africa, which has traditionally been limited by the quality of education provision, is presented with the greatest opportunities at the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) a myriad of changes over the recent past have begun to reshape the educational ecosystem.

These changes manifest themselves in the form of dynamic challenges as well as growth and diversification opportunities. Some of the most important trends observed over the past year, which continue to influence the direction of higher education provision in South Africa and SADC, include regulatory amalgamation and alignment on quality standards across the region, foreign entrants seeking new markets and a pronounced effort from some South African providers to establish their offerings in the online domain.

These trends and changes in the sector have presented MANCOSA and Regent Business School (RBS) with the opportunity of rapidly gearing up to offer high-quality online executive education programmes. At the same time, the opportunity exists to strengthen MANCOSA and RBS’s existing efforts in Zambia, Swaziland, Namibia and Mozambique. Joining Honoris United Universities (HUU) has been and will be an important part of defining these opportunities.

Whilst educational establishments have often partnered and/or shared experiences in the past, the HUU network (which is truly pan-African) is unique. All institutions within the network understand that new synergies are created and leveraged through diversity and a broader understanding of what the new world will look like in years to come. Students in South Africa and SADC can absorb and understand continent-wide socio-economic challenges and opportunities – as far north as Morocco or further with HUU’s international relationships. This is invaluable in a globalized world.

It is important, however, to recognise the shared vision that binds all HUU institutions: quality education and Education for Impact® will assist in navigating the uncertainties and opportunities that technological advancements present for the 21st century learner and the 21st century workplace. Undoubtedly, the values of HUU are attractive to any education institution that is seeking to expand its role and impact on society through collaborations which leverage their collective strength.

Since joining the HUU network, academic leaders from MANCOSA and RBS have benefited through their engagement with faculty members at partner institutions in areas of teaching and learning, research and in the exchange of ideas on curriculum development.

In December 2017, we launched a global pan-African MBA with our partner institutions in Morocco and Tunisia emphasizing African and Emerging Markets. It is a landmark programme because for the first time universities from Northern Africa and Southern Africa have collaborated to introduce a degree with a significant focus on pan-Africa. More recently, the MANCOSA Online MBA was pioneered by a group of digital education experts from HUU to further facilitate access to education across the continent. MANCOSA and Regent work actively to share ideas on quality management with peers within the network. Students have also benefitted from being part of a larger network of diverse student communities and have begun to collaborate with each other through various social media platforms. Plans are in place for student exchange programmes in the near future and a graduate from RBS has been selected to represent HUU at Oxford University in the UK.

Since joining Honoris in 2017, MANCOSA and RBS have become more keenly aware of their own place in the education ecosystem – of their strengths and unique values. This awareness is important because it has afforded them the ease to cement their culture as proudly South African education institutions within the context of a hugely diverse cultural landscape. In essence, despite being hundreds – or thousands of kilometres apart from its stable mates, MANCOSA and RBS are able to share their focus on entrepreneurship, leadership and competition with undergraduates and academics who in turn gift their expertise to us. This is perhaps one of the most advantageous parts of sharing a unified and unique vision of how to build a better Africa through collaborative education.

Looking ahead, we see greater collaboration on research, faculty training and development as well as student and faculty exchange programmes. We also anticipate a major focus on enterprise development through meaningful entrepreneurship training and development programmes, as well as scaling up a series of online courses and qualifications for selected markets in Africa. Deepening the focus on employability skills and competencies for graduates, against the backdrop of the digital economy and the fourth industrial revolution, is absolutely critical to us and to Honoris.

The HUU network will support these initiatives and programmes with large-scale resources, best-of-breed educational technology, access to the latest academic resources and content as well as access to a network of current and future employers for our students. It is clear that the past twelve months have been transformative for the MANCOSA and REGENT Business School. As we look ahead to the next year it is also clear that for graduates, existing undergraduates and new students joining us, the future is certain to be bright.

Professor Yusuf Karodia is the founder of the Management College of Southern Africa (MANCOSA) and REGENT Business School, and board member of Honoris United Universities.