Behind the scenes at BIUST

Christinah Motlhabane

Members of the media were taken on a two-day tour of Botswana International University of Science and Technology’s (BIUST) spacious campus recently.

The behind-the-scenes visit to the Palapye institute, was to give journalists a better understanding of exactly what makes the university tick.

The tour included trips to BIUST’s various laboratories, including Physics, Minerals and Construction labs, as well as the forensics and pyrolysis plants.

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When giving the welcome remarks, Professor Lusha Shemang stressed the importance of keeping the media informed on what goes on at BIUST, what it has achieved and the challenges it faces.

To this end, Vice Chancellor, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo explained BIUST strives to produce world class research and innovation in Science, Engineering and Technology, ultimately contributing to industry growth and the advancement of a diversified knowledge-based economy.

“BIUST has a vision to be a hub of academic excellence, commercial attractiveness and social relevance. We reviewed our strategic plan, themed ‘Catalyst for Transformation and Innovation, 2016 -2023’ and some pillars identified are academic excellence, building strategic partnerships, high performance culture and global reputable brand positioning.”

Listing some of the challenges faced by BIUST, Totolo mentioned a lack of adequate teaching and research facilities, including classrooms, lectures theatres and laboratories.

He also admitted they struggle to attract and retain high calibre staff, both academic and administrative, and students.

“We have inadequate accommodation for staff and residence for students which they end up using port cabins. It is big a challenge because when it’s hot they become extremely hot and very cold when it’s cold.

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“There is lack of recreational facilities for students and staff and lack of adequate academic support facilities such as modern library and IT infrastructure,” said Totolo.

Despite these setbacks, BIUST has several NDP 11 projects in the pipeline. These include: expansion of faculty of Sciences, faculty of engineering and technology, teaching and learning space, library, centres for students, research, ICT and students refectory.

Inevitably, Covid-19 has also had an impact on the university, pushing BIUST to embrace online teaching.

“This pandemic calls for concerted efforts, especially in empowering the SMME in collaboration with other institutions such as LEA, CEDA among others.

“Setting up of National Research Fund should be a priority and need for the university to generate third stream income through industry collaboration. And also aim to be self sufficient like production of tangible products and services locally to drastically reduce import bill, whilst simultaneously aiming at export-oriented products and services,” he closed.

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