The University of South Africa (Unisa) has opened its new science campus in Florida, Johannesburg. The campus houses Unisa’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES) as well as its College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET).
The launch coincides with National Science Week, held annually by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in collaboration with different stakeholders in the science system.
Professor Mandla Makhanya, Unisa’s principal and vice-chancellor, says Unisa intends to play a key role as a provider of science education – hence its investment of close on R1-billion into developing a campus which offers state-of-the-art facilities to enable the teaching and learning of science in a world-class environment.
“The Science Campus is aligned with and responsive to national imperatives and priorities, and the official launch today marks a further milestone in our university’s rich history of 140 years,” Makhanya says.
“We have chosen the first day of National Science Week as a fitting day for the launch of the Unisa Science Campus to highlight Unisa as a destination of choice for the study of science (including agriculture and environmental sciences), engineering and technology.”
Derek Hanekom, the Minister of Science and Technology, delivered the keynote address at the official opening of the Unisa Science Campus.
“We are delighted that Unisa has partnered with the DST during National Science Week to promote the study of science among South African youth,” the Minister says. “Science, engineering and technology have been identified as areas where there is an acute shortage of skills in South Africa, and must receive intense focus in both basic and higher education.”
The Unisa Science Campus offers state-of-the-art laboratories and high-end equipment, thereby advancing science education and research at a national level. It contains 12 buildings, a library, two auditoriums and a large study area.
In addition, the campus includes a Horticultural Centre, a multi-purpose research and training facility designed to meet the education and research needs of students in a range of programmes including agriculture, ornamental horticulture and nature conservation. Short learning programmes ensure the centre’s relevancy to the broader community and green industry.
According to Makhanya, the enabling facilities will support Unisa as a premier university – in South Africa, across the continent, and as one of the mega universities worldwide – to play a more significant role in terms of the sciences.
“The university will now be able to create an environment which truly stimulates research and innovation, supports researchers and scientists, and meets the educational and training needs of its distance learning students, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels,” he says.
“In this way the university’s beneficial capacity will be enhanced and extended as a resource to students, scientists and researchers alike.”