Friday, November 7, 2008


News that a new university is set to open in Swaziland in January 2009 raises questions about what is the role of a university in the kingdom.

In September King Mswati III, the chancellor of the kingdom’s only university (the University of Swaziland), told graduates that they should look outside Swaziland for jobs because there weren’t enough in Swaziland.

Now, a Malaysian-based university called the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT) has announced it will open in Mbabane in January. It is hoping to attract 1,000 students for its courses.

LUCT has been gaining a lot of attention internationally for its rapid expansion in the developing world. Recently it has announced new campuses in Cambodia and Botswana.

The university is a ‘private’ university (that is not funded by government), but unlike many such universities which run as charities, this one intends to be profit-making.

I welcome a new university in Swaziland. The University of Swaziland has become complacent over the past few years and has lost its way a little. It is difficult to find a coherent statement from the university about what its purpose in Swaziland is. The instruction from the king that graduates should go abroad just highlights the problem: what is the point of studying at the University of Swaziland?

I don’t think the LUCT has made much of an improvement on this score. LUCT has yet to publish a prospectus of the courses it intends to offer, but according to a report in the Times of Swaziland (29 October 2008) it will focus on technology, arts, communication, television and broadcasting, business, sound and music, lifestyle, creativity and innovation. You can see the full list of courses it offers here.

It is difficult at first to see what jobs graduates from such courses would get in Swaziland and there is no obvious sign that LUCT’s courses will aid the development of Swaziland.

I would like to see a new university succeed in Swaziland, but I think LUCT has its work cut out. There are unresolved issues of funding of students (the Swazi government has no money for fees and the University of Swaziland is crumbling through lack of funding) and as far as I can see no lecturers have yet been appointed.

Add to those problems the fact that everything moves very slowly in Swaziland I’d be surprised if LUCT will meet its January deadline. But I’d be happy to be proved wrong.

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