UNIMA targets to reach enrollment of 15,000 by 2026 currently at 11,733 

The University of Malawi (UNIMA) — that was delinked from Malawi Polytechnic, Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) and the College of Medicine — targets to reach enrollment of 15,000 by 2026, currently at 11,733.

Vice-Chancellor Prof. Samson Sajidu presented this vision on Wednesday during the graduation of 2,474 graduands, which he had unveiled to work on during his maiden ceremony address in April, 2022  in which he indicated that his “standing vision remains that whatever we set our hearts and minds to do, our delivery must bear the stamp of excellence”.

UNIMA’s Chancellor College in Zomba

He thus unveiled that as a stand-alone UNIMA has an enrollment of 11,733 — out of which about 10,000 are undergraduate and about 1,700 are postgraduate.

He also unveiled that under his watch, UNIMA’s faculties were reconstituted into five schools — School of Arts, Communication & Design; School of Education; School of Law, Economics & Government; School of Humanities & Social Sciences; and School of Natural & Applied Sciences.

He said: “The reconstitution was on the basis that a school should have defined related themes and discipline, self contained in development and delivery of programmes; minimum of 5 departments and max of 10; demonstrate potential of efficiency and effectiveness in delivering programmes, research and in resource mobilization; international benchmarking in programmes, research and innovation;  programmes should be responsive to the national development agenda, should have an strategic plan.”

UNIMA also has a number of memorandum of understandings (MoUs) with local partners such as Youth Net & Counselling (YONECO), Central High, Malawi Defence Force, Malawi Police, LEAD, the Department of Human Resource Management & Development (DHRM) among others.

“We are collaborating with a number of African regional partners such as Universities of Pungwe Rovuma (Mozambique), Mzumbe University and UDSM (Tanzania), The African Psychosocial Support Institute (APSSI), African Economics Research Consortium, UDSM, Southern Africa Water centres of excellence, and WaterNet, South Africa Medical Council, University of Cape Town to mention a few.”

He added that internationally, UNIMA has collaborative agreements with University of Sterling, University court of the University of Edinburgh, Makerere University-School of Public Health, University of Eastern Finland, Bath Spa university and University of Oslo and University of Dundee — whose Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Ian Gillaspie graced the graduation.

“After we have taken care of our horses — that is the students and our stakeholders — we must take care of our men, the staff! This University is committed to continually improving the welfare of our staff within the confines of law and practice.

“Dialogue and mutual understanding between the unions and management is the Holy Grail on matters of staff welfare. This is a continuous process with the best interests of staff at heart.

“Let me thank each and every member of staff for the support I continue to receive from you in discharging the mandate for which this University was founded and also for your diligent service. As you are aware, we practice an open-door policy and my doors remain open to engage you on matters of staff welfare.”

Another milestone that UNIMA has achieved is narrowing gap between male and female academic achievement as out of 2,474 graduands who were conferred with degrees, diplomas and certificate, 1,195 were females — representing 48% of females.

Sajidu described this overall gender parity as signalling the university’s efforts towards attaining the male-female 50-50 gender distribution with regard to opportunities for higher education in compliance with the national policy on gender equity.

From the 2,474 graduands, 7 received certificates, 25 Diplomas, 2,289 Bachelors, 142 Masters and 11 PhDs. UNIMA also graduated students from sister universities of Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (MUBAS) and Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS), who had enrolled during the federal university of Malawi at the then Polytechnic, College of Medicine and Kamuzu College of Nursing.

Also gracing the ceremony were Minister of Education, Madalitso Wirima-Kambauwa and Secretary for Education, Chikondano Mussa and Sajidu took the opportunity to also highlighted the challenges UNIMA is facing that include student accommodation.

“Out of the 10,500 students, only 1,200 bed spaces are available — the rest are accommodated in the neighbourhood, in structures that are not ideal for university education.

“In fact, Chikanda is our main campus these days. Please to note that in our current budget we have provision to start the procurement processes for construction of hostels. I am highlighting, the fact that the allocation is just for procurement processes. We do thank Government for the provision. We are also discussing with a number of companies under the PPP arrangement.”

The other challenge is teaching space in that out of the 11,700 students, UNIMA has teaching space capacity of 2,500 seated at once.

“We are pleased to report that we have funding for construction of prefabricated classrooms with a seating capacity of about 1,000.”

On the teaching staff, out of the 11,700 students, the academic staff members are 310 — translating to average staff student ratio of 1:34 against the recommended ratio of 1:18.

He added that “a functional review coordinated by Department of Human Resource Management & Development (DHRMD) is at an advanced stage to increase its staff establishments”.

I would like to sincerely thank our Chancellor, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Malawi and his government for the financial support and special attention he gives to developments taking place at the University of Malawi.”

Effects of Cyclone Freddy also did not spare UNIMA campus as on the evening of March 21, Zomba received “massive unprecedented heavy rains for close to 4 hours causing some damages in our structures including the hostels”.

“We pray to the Almighty that He grants us wisdom, knowledge, intelligence and understanding for better management of such challenges when they come. We believe that indeed we will come out these challenges much stronger than before.”

Sajidu described the tragedy that befell the Southern Region as “an extremely difficult time in the history or our country” and joined President Lazarus Chakwera and the rest of the nation “in praying for the souls of fellow Malawians including our beloved student who lost their lives due to the devastating effects of the Cyclone Freddy”.

“We pray for the Almighty’s healing mercies to fellow Malawians who have been injured, lost property, displaced and psychologically disturbed by the devastating effects of the cyclone.”

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