Summer School Distinguished Alumni Lecture: University of the Future project

01 Feb 2024
Professor Salome Maswime

Professor Salome Maswime

01 Feb 2024
Prof Salome Maswime

Professor Salome Maswime presented the Distinguished Alumni Lecture at the close of the Summer School programme. Prof Maswime, who is a gynaecologist with an interest in infrastructure, is chair of the University of the Future project, as well as Head of Global Surgery division at UCT's Faculty of Health Science.  She started her talk by saying that  despite the fact that the first universities were built in Africa, Africa is not producing enough professors, PhD’s, research and graduates to bridge the socio-economic needs of the continent.  She stressed how universities in Africa have an urgent need to produce new knowledge and that in order to address these issues we need a community of problem solvers.  

To answer to the question ‘What is the University of the Future’, Prof Maswime explained that it is an idea of the university that is deeply engaged with the society around it. She described how universities need to work with industry partners to co-create qualifications that respond to the changing needs of the workforce.  Future universities also need to collaborate with industry on projects that solve real-world problems – they need to be precincts of innovation.  Europe’s vision for universities in 2030 are universities without a wall, which are resilient and effective universities.

Some of the key themes of the University of the Future which Prof Maswime highlighted are a student-centred approach which views the student holistically: looking at where students stay/ sleep and are they eating properly; increasing student satisfaction; shortening the period between learning and application; offering project-based education; shifting from event and pressure-based assessments; increasing completion rates; investment in culture and sports.  Creating an environment where learning effectively is considered with health, mental health, wellness and attitude in mind – a university that cares. 

Prof Maswime also spoke about the need for Future Professors who need to care and be kind and leadership which is leader-centred, rather than being policy driven. What they have found through their discussions is that the university experience for staff and students has to do with more than just the academic project.

The emerging themes from the project are:
1.  A campus environment that fosters a sense of community and connection
2.  The importance of the student experience and transformative journey towards self-actualisation

Prof Maswime stressed that the University of the Future belongs to all who prepare for it and she said that we need to look at how we collectively come up with solutions.  To do this we need to have discussions and conversations and recognise that it is a process where we are all partners.  Creating the University of the Future is about supporting a process and sharing ideas that go into strategy.

Alumni and friends attending the event thoroughly enjoyed the presentation.
Comments from some of the alumni and friends attending the presentation:

Ann-Gail Watson:  When asked about why she attends Summer School, Ann said that her father started Summer School many years back.  "I have  been attending Summer School for many years and especially since retiring.  This year I attended 11 courses and found Dr Mamphela Ramphele’s lecture entitled, 'What does compassion, or ubuntu, mean in contemporary South Africa', particularly brilliant. I enjoy the space to learn and interact with others and have attended over 100 Summer School courses over times".

Lance Mitchell commented that he enjoys the variety of topics on offer at Summer School. This is only the second time he has attended Summer School but he hopes to attend more in the future. For him, the speaker is more important than the topic and he particularly likes a focus on history.

Sue Nepgen is passionate about UCT and says she always enjoys receiving emails from UCT and coming to Summer School whenever she can fit it into her busy schedule. She studied at UCT, then taught at UCT and runs art classes where the focus is on fostering creativity, self-esteem and enjoyment of art.  As well as running art classes, she does corporate art workshops and would love to run an art workshop for UCT alumni.

John Gibbon says he enjoys the opportunity to attend the big general talks because they stretch his mind in new directions.  He also particularly enjoy having the opportunity to meet up with people he hasn’t seen for a while. 

Shirley Kantor attends as many of the Summer School talks as possible.  This year she particularly enjoyed the talk 'Sisters of Wilderness' where Karin Slater shared her experience of documentary making in Imfolozi game reserve.  She said the presentation and hearing about the process of how the documentary was made, was fascinating and the photography exceptional. Shirley started studying late in life and graduated from UCT at the age of 57.  After a life-changing moment when she nearly died, Shirley decided she needed to get a degree and she laughingly commented that she had been at varsity longer than she was at school!  She has had an exciting journey, including working in the hospital theatre when Chris Barnard did the first open heart surgery.  Her motto is “Live life so that the story is worth telling”.

Watch highlights video below