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SMU embraces digital transformation to enhance the Academic Project

SMU is committed to the acceleration of its digital transformation journey to enhance teaching and learning experience of its staff and students. This is according to the Vice Chancellor, Prof Peter Mbati, following the conclusion of the 29th Annual PwC Education Conference held at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town from 21–22 August 2023.

In this context, the School of Science and Technology has been identified to start the pilot phase for the opportunities presented by disruption in pedagogy through generative artificial intelligence (AI). According to the Vice Chancellor, a comprehensive strategy for all the five SMU Schools will be developed for implementation over a two-year period. “Because of the substantial investment that will be required to achieve this vision, targeted partners, both in government and the corporate sector, will be approached to walk this this journey with us” says Mbati.

Regarding issues of governance, the SMU Chairperson of Council Ms. Maria Rambauli, who was part of the panel of Council Chairs, made a strong case for a clear delineation of responsibilities between Council and Vice Chancellors to ensure proper functioning of governance structures within higher education institutions. Rambauli further stated that in many instances, governance challenges arise when nonexecutive Council members interfere in the operations of university management structures. “Our role as Council is to set the strategy and to hold the Vice Chancellor to account” said Ms Rambauli.

The conference also identified technological disruptions as part of megatrends that will continue to change societies for many years to come. It is, therefore, important for SMU to consider a clear set of generative AI policies and strategies, stakeholder management on setting expectations and training on ethics and governance. The AI wave is inevitable and SMU must embrace its accompanying risks and opportunities. Curriculum and pedagogy transformation, and a change of our assessment strategies will also be important. The keynote address was delivered by Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the former Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa and former Executive Director of UN Women.

VCs Desk - SMU embraces digital transformation to enhance the Academic Project

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