IUM, strives to be the best University in Africa

By Confidente Reporter

PROFESSOR Oladele O. Arowolo was appointed Vice-chancellor of the International University of Management in March succeeding Professor Kingo J. Mchombu, who was appointed Advisor to the Founder of IUM and the University›s Governing Council.

Confidente this week sat down with Professor Arowolo to talk about his his qualifications, journey to the top and challenges and how he plans to transform IUM into the best higher learning institution.

Describe your journey as the Vice Chancellor thus far? 

Education: My journey to the position of Vice-Chancellor of IUM started way back with my education and training. My higher education started at the University of Ibadan where I obtained B.A. (Hons.) in Geography, (1968). Thereafter, I proceeded to the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia where I obtained M.A. in Demography, passed with Distinction (1971), and Ph. D. in Demography (1973). In the process, I also acquired relevant training as follows: Graduate courses (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA, Summer 1971) in Survey Sampling Statistics; Training in Computer-based SPSS application for data analysis; Training in Computer Software packages for population analysis; Training in project management, including monitoring and evaluation.

Past work experience: Before I joined IUM in 2017, I served as African Research Fellow and Chief Research Specialist, Research Use & Impact Assessment in the Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria (2013-2016). Before then, I was senior lecturer in Population and Development at the University of Ibadan (1973-1984). Thereafter, I was appointed Professor and Head of Department of Social Sciences, Lagos State University (1984), and I served as Dean, Faculty of Law and Humanities, LASU, 1985-1986; Member of the Governing Council of the Lagos State University and Member of the University Senate, LASU, 1984 – 1988.

I served as External Examiner (Higher Degrees) to Department of Geography and Planning (Population and Manpower), University of Jos, Nigeria (1986/87); External Examiner, Department of Sociology, University of Lagos, 1986 – 1988; External Examiner, Post-graduate Program on Population and Development, University of Botswana, Gaborone, 1997 – 1999; External Examiner, Population Training and Research Unit, University of the North West, Mmabatho, South Africa, Graduate and Post-Graduate Program in Population and Development, 1999 – 2004.

I joined the United Nations and worked with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), from 1988-1999.

What were some of the challenges that IUM faced during Covid-19? How did you go about mitigating them?

Following the state of emergency that was declared by HE Dr Hage Geingob on 17 March 2020 for 30 days, the IUM management quickly set up a taskforce to monitor the unfolding of the Covid-19 pandemic and to fully explore alternative means of fulfilling our responsibilities to our stakeholders, particularly students. While adhering strictly to the official health codes, we managed to develop work rosters among all staff, and embarked upon online delivery of our academic courses as much as possible. The university also published and disseminated an advisory in the form of ‘Coronavirus Student’s Information Leaflet’ to help students and people in their communities with information.

The second major challenge was how to bring all our students on board the new teaching and learning system. A large number of our students did not have adequate equipment; some had equipment but internet connectivity was a challenge.

Special training was conducted on guidelines for the prevention and management of Covid-19 by the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences (14 July -17 July 2020) across the campuses.

How has the pandemic affected the revenue of the institution?

The negative impact of the pandemic on institutions, public or private, was universal; but it has affected some institutions more severely than others. IUM as a non-profit private institution has been negatively affected somewhat but not so severely. One important indicator is that IUM has managed to retain 94 percent of its student population during the pandemic period, judged by enrolment in the second semester that is about to end. As a mitigation measure, the university entered into payment plans with affected students on an individual basis, and this ensured that students were not disadvantaged in terms of registration and writing of examinations.

Regarding the new campus in Nkurenkuru, kindly share how that has been and the efficiencies that it brings to your operations?

IUM operates a multi-campus institution, with the main campus in Windhoek (Dorado Park and City Branch); other campuses are located in Ongwediva, Nkurenkuru and Walvis Bay (Costal Campus). To facilitate management, each campus outside Dorado has its director who serves as the link between the other campuses, while the overall coordination is managed by the Vice-Chancellor’s Office at Dorado Park.

The reasoning behind a multi-campus management is basically to ensure access of the student population to the university across the country. IUM has a student population of over 10 000, distributed across it’s campuses in Windhoek, Ongwediva, Walvis Bay and Nkurenkuru campus has brought university services closer to students from Zambezi region, the two Kavango regions and Ohangwena region.

Are there any new programmes being offered if yes, how relevant are they to the different industries?

There are two new programmes being offered at IUM: Programme on Climate Studies and; Programme on Bachelor of Science in Electronic Honours Degree, Faculty of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

The Centre for Climate Studies (CCS): The Centre will operate as a training as well as research department in the university.CCS will address societal needs such as develop, educate and train students, professionals and scholars in environment, climate change adaptation and sustainable development studies. Educate the public on the importance of natural resources management, environmental conservation and maintaining sustainability and, to create a platform for productive and innovative collaborations amongst scholars of different disciplines in pursuing excellent multi-disciplinary research in environmental management, climate change adaptation and sustainable development.

The Bachelor of Science in Electronic Honours Degree: The main objective is to prepare students as electronics professionals, for a successful career in industry or as electronics technopreneurs, as motivation for higher education (including Masters and later PhDs).

Where would you like to see IUM in the next five years?

Five years from now, I would like to see IUM student population becoming more than doubled, from 10,000 in 2020 to 25,000 in 2025, based on a conservative projection of infrastructural facilities across the campuses, the growing number of PhD holders among the academic staff and the feasibility of online delivery of our current and expanded programmes that will be facilitated by blended learning.

I also foresee IUM with an expanded degree programmes, especially higher degrees in the next five years.

What are the long-term changes the organisation may need to make to improve the day-to-day operations?

Is the structural development that should be well integrated to facilitate blended teaching and learning, online Faculty and board meetings, and administration of conferences. This structural development should be accompanied by improved communication within and across the campuses in the interest of students and staff.

What is the one thing that you are most proud of about IUM?

The overall management of the university has been guided by strategic plans, the current one being the 2020-2025 IUM Strategic Plans. With a focus on the quality of our outputs, the institution is generally effectively and efficiently managed through financial prudence, maximization of the utilization of the available resources, and strict adherence to the established ethical code of conduct in working relations within ourselves and with all our stakeholders, particularly students and staff.

Is there anything else that you would like to add? Please do.

IUM offers courses in Entrepreneurship and Management at different levels, from under graduate to postgraduate, which are open to all students, regardless of their chosen fields of specialization to prepare them for the difficult world of work.