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New university to change face of province

Higher Education and Training Deputy Minister Mduduzi Manana believes that architectural designs will change the face of Mpumalanga.

Manana was speaking at the unveiling of the winning architects and architectural designs for the new University of Mpumalanga (UMP) in Mbombela on Wednesday night. “The new University of Mpumalanga will give prominence to the role of education. That is why we are so glad that architects from all over the country reacted so positively to this design competition. Seeing a new university (take) shape is truly a milestone event for Mpumalanga,” said Manana. Various delegates from all over the country and province attended the gala dinner, with everyone anticipating the unveiling of the faces behind the design of the new university.

The guests included Mbombela Mayor Cathy Dlamini, Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande, South African National Parks chief executive Dr David Mabunda and Higher Education and Training Director-General Gwebinkundla Qonde.

Manana explained that of the 147 companies who expressed interest in the competition, only four companies were chosen to work on different designing aspects of the UMP. The winners are Cohen and Garson, Conco Bryan Architects, TC Design Group (Pty) Ltd and Gabb Architects and Urban Designers (Pty) Ltd. "Congratulations to all who worked so hard to provide the competition's adjudication team with the highest quality and standard of designs,” said Manana.

The deputy minister expressed his belief that the collaboration of the four companies will produce a well-designed university that will do justice to the allocated space. African Eye News Service (AENS) spoke to Ludwig Steyl, an architect from TC Design Group (Pty) Ltd, who said the competition was very tough. "It was a pleasant surprise to be chosen amongst the few teams who will have the privilege of working on the new University of Mpumalanga site. "It was indeed a long process and took many months to complete our design and model, but it was worth it because we will be making a significant difference in the lives of those who seek to further their education at a prestigious university like this,” said Steyl. Manana also told AENS that the new university has the potential to attract prospective students from nearby countries such as Swaziland and Mozambique.

He expressed the hope that students who obtain a degree from the university will be able to create jobs for the province. “When you have that degree under your arm, don't just go looking for employment. You must create employment for yourself and for others,” said Manana.

Manana added that the department would employ highly qualified professors and lecturers. “This is the ideal opportunity for those who have a doctorate and master’s degree to stay on in Mpumalanga and South Africa and work here. They do not need to go abroad to seek employment. We also urge graduates who are currently abroad to return to the country and assist in educating the nation,” the deputy minister said.

Enrolments for the new university opened in October this year and only 140 students will be accommodated for the 2014 academic year. The university will at first start with three programmes -- Bachelor of Education, a Bachelor of Agriculture and a Diploma in Hospitality.

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