Change the world

George Campus

02/08/2012

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s (NMMU) George Campus at Saasveld has grown exceptionally well over the past few years, and is well-positioned for growth in various spheres. The university is committed to playing its part in realising the vision of a “coalition” to promote sustainability through quality education in the Garden Route and beyond, says Campus Principal, Prof Christo Fabricius.

Student enrolments

Prof Derrick Swartz

A recent report to the NMMU Senate confirmed a record 9,6% average growth per annum in student enrolments at NMMU George Campus for the period 2008 – 2011, while applications for admission to programmes have more than doubled over the same period.  

NMMU George Campus successfully enrolled 1 252 students for the 2012 academic year, up from 868 a mere four years ago.  The university, in line with its strategic plan - Vision 2020 – aims to grow student numbers at the George Campus to around 2 000 in the next few years.

Student enrolments for the four BCom degree options offered at George Campus, has grown from 16 first year BCom (Accounting for Chartered Accountants) students in 2006 to the current 141 registered students across all four BCom degree offerings. The BEd (Further Education and Training) degree introduced to George Campus in 2009 has also grown significantly from an initial 45 students enrolled in 2009 to the current group of 125 students enrolled on the programme. The programme is expected to render its first group of qualified teachers at the end of this academic year.

Together with the BTech degree enrolments, undergraduate degree enrolments have grown by an average of 20,2% since 2008. 

An above-average student success rate of 74% for George Campus is a clear sign that this dynamic, yet relatively small campus is on the right track.

The university has recently realigned its governance system and has strengthened the ties between George campus and the various faculties located in Port Elizabeth. “This is to ensure that NMMU is optimally positioned throughout the region to realise our growth objectives as set out in our strategic plan - Vision 2020” says Prof Derrick Swartz, NMMU’s Vice-Chancellor.

Staff

The new governance arrangements have brought about a new dimension and significantly strengthens George Campus management, by, amongst others, adding three executive deans (of the faculties represented in George) and a number of operational specialists to serve on the Campus’ Management Committee, together with the Campus Principal and other locally-based academic and professional staff.     Representation of George Campus champions on a variety of NMMU forums have also increased significantly due to the shared responsibilities. 

In addition, the number of permanent academic staff at George Campus has increased by 30% since September 2009, building a sound academic core and contributing to greater diversity in terms of both gender and race.

Three Associate Professors are amongst the complement of permanent academics, and, as a result of the stronger links with and reporting lines to the academic faculties in Port Elizabeth, the George Campus is now in a better position than ever before to draw on the expertise of lecturers in Port Elizabeth.

The full integration of the School of Natural Resource Management (George) as one of four Schools in the Faculty of Science, will further enhance the academic capacity (lecturing and research) at George Campus. This will be achieved through the direct or technology-supported involvement of Port Elizabeth-based lecturers, notably in the fields of environmental science and biometry; as well as specialised inputs in the field of chemistry, physics and geography.

Permanent academics in George are also support by a motivated group of highly qualified contract lecturers.

Focus on e-learning, video learning and electronic communications

The university is increasingly optimising electronic media for teaching, learning and communication. Blended learning keeps NMMU at the forefront of teaching, due to its flexibility and responsiveness. This interactive tool is ideal for engaging students in the learning process, either individually or as a group. It frees both students and lecturers from geographical barriers and allows the lecturer to provide an instantaneous response to the student and vice-versa. 

The university is continuously increasing its bandwidth and capacity for use of electronic media and makes use of video-conferencing to bridge the distance and share expertise and capacity between its various campuses. George Campus, like the main NMMU campuses in Port Elizabeth, has various wi-fi zones, enabling students and lecturers to work and communicate seamlessly between the classroom, place of relaxation and residences.    

Growing research capacity

NMMU George is also growing its research capacity.   The average annual growth rate for masters’ students from 2008 to date is 31%, with the accompanying research outputs associated with studies at this level. Thirty five students have enrolled for either MTech (17) or MSc (18) degrees at George Campus this year (2012).

Staff are committed to the principle of lifelong learning. This is evidenced by the no less than seven academics staff at George Campus who, in the past few months, completed either PhDs, or first or second Masters’ degrees. At least half a dozen other George Campus academics are currently busy with either masters or doctoral studies, ensuring that NMMU remains a cutting-edge university with scholarship, creativity and innovation as important driving forces.

NMMU George academics are set on making a contribution to the knowledge economy by publishing their work in peer reviewed journals, delivering papers and sharing their insights and research findings at various international forums. This knowledge exchange also benefits students, who are continuously exposed to the best the world and the various industries have to offer.

Several postgraduate students work closely with a team of researchers, including a post-doctoral research fellow, research associates and the Campus Principal, Prof Christo Fabricius within the Sustainability Research Unit (SRU) at George Campus. This group also co-operates and works with academics in national and international research institutions as well as authorities such as local and district municipalities, departments of Agriculture and Forestry, Water Affairs, provincial conservation authorities, SANParks, NGOs such as WESSA, the private sector and CSIR. The focus is on engaged, relevant research to address the sustainability challenges of the Garden Route.

Major capital investment in infrastructure and facilities

NMMU places great emphasis on creating and sustaining an environment which is conducive to excellence in teaching and learning and which promotes the overall development and success of its students.

The university is investing substantial amounts in modern infrastructure and facilities and is committed to continuous improvement, which is also evident at George Campus, with work to the value of R50,4 million having been executed on campus over the past three years and more is to follow soon...

New buildings

Capital investment to the tune of R23 million ensured the addition in 2009 of a state of the art 200 seat Lecture Theatre; six classrooms; five computer laboratories and a modern library, complete with a mini training computer laboratory and computer workstations for students.

The well planned new library has become one of the busiest places on campus with many students now including a visit to the library as part of their daily routine. Patron visits doubled from 48,192 in 2008, to 96,315 in 2011. 

The Student Recreation Centre, which includes a cafeteria and an area for various convenience shops was completed two years ago at a cost of R8,5 million. This venue with a beautiful deck area overlooking the Outeniqua Mountains has also become a popular “chill zone” for students.

Infrastructure – upgrading and maintenance

Major capital investment of R6,5 million in upgrading of roads at George Campus over the past two years is beginning to show, with most of the former tarred surfaces around the main academic buildings having been replaced by high quality, aesthetically pleasing pavers.  Road works are currently underway to develop the first part of a new dual carriageway leading in and out of the Campus.

Work to augment the external water supply to the university was completed at a cost of R8,1 million, with an additional R4,3 million spent on the internal reticulation system two years ago.

The existing sports pavilion was overhauled (interior and exterior) two years ago at a cost of R450 000, while on-going maintenance and refurbishments of residences is a priority. R2 million has, furthermore, been set aside for the upgrading of student housing units at Arboria and De Hoek – in the immediate vicinity of where a new residence will soon be built.

Student accommodation and services

Student accommodation on-campus will receive a significant boost with the imminent addition of 72 new beds as part of infrastructural developments already approved for George Campus.

The university has also secured additional certified off-campus accommodation to meet the demand for student accommodation that conforms to NMMU’s requirements. A post-graduate village already accommodates masters’ students on-campus. They are also assisted with office space where they have access to fully-equipped work stations.

At NMMU George, like NMMU’s other campuses, students are well catered for holistically. This includes access to Primary Healthcare services at the on-campus clinic and a variety of value-adding services rendered at NMMU’s Student Counselling, Career & Development Centre. A full time Financial Aid Officer has been allocated to George Campus from the beginning on 2012 to assist students with Financial Aid applications and queries.

Student life

Students enjoy a vibrant campus life thanks to excellent student leadership. The Saasveld Forestry Association, Green Campus Forum, Pathfinders Business Society, the Agricultural Society, SASCO, Debating Society, the NMMU George Campus Choir, the Christian Society, House Committees and other student-driven societies and associations are active at George Campus, making NMMU George a sought after destinations for young people who want to further their studies and “realise their dreams” for the future.

Contact information
Ms Alet van Tonder
Manager: Marketing & Corporate Relations
Tel: 27 44 801 5098
alet.vantonder@mandela.ac.za