The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Peter Mbati hosted a delegation from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) on the 14 October 2022 at SMU. This meeting comes against the backdrop of an initial meeting that the VC held with the Minister of DALRRD, the Honorable Thoko Didiza and her Department to explore the possibility of the reintroduction of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Health at SMU, necessitated by the realization that there is an increased need for veterinary training in the country.
As a way of introduction, the Chief Director for Sector Capacity Development, Ms. Lebogang Botsheleng, who led the Departmental delegation, made a brief contextual presentation with regard to the increased need for veterinary training in the country. She indicated that Cabinet has taken a decision regarding the introduction of veterinary Sciences and Animal Health to be hosted by at least two additional universities; and that SMU was encouraged to submit a proposal for consideration by the Department. The ARC was represented by its CEO, Dr. Litha Magingxa and its Group Executive Animal Sciences, Dr. Andrew Magadlela.
In response, the VC indicated that SMU has a new business model, which amongst others, seeks to ensure that the university diversiﬁes its PQM and increases its student enrolment to ensure that it becomes ﬁnancially sustainable. In this context, it is anticipated that the reintroduction of a range of veterinary studies will make a signiﬁcant contribution towards this strategic objective.
The VC further indicated that the university has commissioned a feasibility study with regard to the reintroduction of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Health, which will be completed by the end of November 2022. He stated that this study will inform proposals on a responsive curriculum and the required capacity (human, physical and technical), which will be done in consultation with all the relevant stakeholders.
The meeting also acknowledged that, internationally, South African graduates are in high demand; which is an indication of the quality of veterinary training that South Africa provides; a strength which needs to be harnessed.
In conclusion, the parties made a commitment for further consultative meetings to consider the outcomes of the SMU commissioned feasibility study and to chart a way forward.