Meet the boss
A love for law
This week we meet Yeukai Emilia Sayenda, Head of the Law Department at one of the country’s fastest growing universities, Gaborone University College of Law & Professional Studies – more popularly known as GUC.
Closing in on a decade’s service with the university, the 37-year-old Zimbabwean native, who fell in love with Botswana from a young age, previously practiced as an attorney in local courts.
In 2014, she swapped the courtroom for the lecture theatre – GUC have been reaping the rewards ever since…
As the Head of Department (HoD) for Law at GUC, what are your key duties?
I am the Chairperson of the department responsible for academic leadership and curriculum delivery. Specifically, I am responsible for allocation work to academic staff in the department, I oversee curriculum delivery, assessment, quality assurance and research development in the department.
I am the link person with the partner University, Leeds Beckett University, with which we offer the LLB degree. As the HoD, I also teach and take part in the institution’s academic and administrative committees.
The HoD also hears and resolves student’s complaints like those relating to appeal against marks. The HoD is also one of the persons where students can report any issues relating to their academic experience in the institution.
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Sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate then! So how is the Law department doing, performance wise?
The department is performing extremely well as we have students enrolled on all the programmes that we offer, starting from certificate to degree level.
The department has a biggest number for graduates we now call alumni’s. We have many different students enrolled from BGCSE, Private and Public Sector. Also we have those who are progressing.
GUC are relatively new entrants in the law space – what are you doing to position the institution as an attractive option for prospective students?
Creating a conducive learning environment. This includes: adequate infrastructure, state-of-the-art computer labs, subscribing online to major legal database, hiring of qualified motivated staff, low staff student ratio which enables personal attention to the development of each student, creative and innovative delivery methods, exposing students to the real world.
The programme is student-centre focused, it offers flexibility in study. The programme is offered as a blended course. The institution provides technology support in teaching and learning. We encourage all students to be digital so that they are competitive in the current market and meet the demand.
Tell us a bit more about GUC’s LLB (Bachelor of Laws) Degree?
The LLB is doing well on the market due to the flexible delivery mode. Enrolment has been increasing on a year by year basis. We have over 130 students enrolled on the LLB programme across the three cohorts. The first cohort was enrolled in August 2020. This group is expected to graduate this year in October.
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The delivery of the programme is highly supported by the awarding University, Leeds Beckett University.
Explain the arrangement with Leeds Beckett University – how does it work and how did it come about?
The LLB degree qualification is awarded by Leeds Beckett University. The programme is delivered through GUC on franchise arrangements. The arrangement is that the delivery of the programme is done at GUC, but assessment and awarding is done by Leeds Beckett University.
To establish this agreement, GUC facilitated the recognition of Leeds Beckett University by Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) as an awarding body in 2019, then, GUC applied to BQA for accreditation of the Leeds Beckett University LLB degree based on the franchise agreement between the two institutions. The LLB degree was accredited in March 2020 and, as I mentioned earlier, the first enrolment was in August.
How many students do you currently have based in Leeds?
Currently we have two based in Leeds. One has fully transferred from GUC to Leeds and the other one is on a Student Exchange programme. The student exchange programme allows GUC students to go to Leeds and attend lecturers and have a feel of being on Campus at Leeds for a period of six months. Students who are interested in this programme are required to have passed their first year modules and progressed to second year of the LLB programme.
I understand GUC have more strategic partnerships with other international universities lined up? How far with these?
Yes, we have strategic partnership with other universities in the region. These include: Midlands State University in Zimbabwe, Zambian Open University and Chresso University in Zambia. Our plan is to expand the scope of partnership with Leeds Becket University to other departments of our institution.
How many campuses does GUC have and what is the student population?
GUC has seven campuses in total with student enrolment of approximately 3, 000.
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Ahead of the July intake, what can you say to those prospective students tempted to join GUC and most importantly the law faculty?
We are one of the institutions offering LLB degree in the country. Our LLB programme is accredited, is taught by qualified staff who have been trained by Leeds Beckett University. Students have vast resources through Leeds Beckett University online libraries.
Students have a chance to participate in the Students Exchange Programme and take a semester at Leeds Beckett University. We provide additional support, tutorials and practical experience at our state of art legal clinic.
What inspired you to opt for a career in law?
l got inspired by my father’s words having asked me one question after writing my ‘A’ Level exams. He was clear and straight to the point, his words, I quote, “You build a career on what you love not money, so that you learn and be able to look back and smile.” These words live in me until this very day.
Wonderful! So have you practiced as a lawyer before?
l have practiced before as I am an admitted Attorney of the High Court of Botswana. Before joining Mosele Legal Services, I was working at Mazonde Attorneys. This is the firm that nurtured me in the legal fraternity.
How did you end up in Botswana?
My mother is the person who paved the way for me to be here with her having worked and ended up with her own saloon. Why do I say so, I first stepped foot in Botswana in August 1992, at the time I was just a minor.
So, because of such relationship she had built, I then came back to Botswana after completing my Master’s degree having worked in Zambia, but the heart was not at peace until I came to Botswana.
How do you relax away from work?
I relax by watching movies with family and attending church activities.