The Faculty Appointments, Promotions and Reviews Committee (FAPRC) at the Faculty of Engineering and Technology (FET) of the University of Botswana (UB) has admitted that it is devastatingly losing seasoned academic staff to the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST).
In an issue paper addressed to UB Vice Chancellor Thabo Fako last month, FAPRC says it is agonising on how it can counter the BIUST staff recruitment drive.
A number of senior academic staff has resigned from UB, mostly from FET and the Faculty of Sciences, to join BIUST.
FET alone lost five academics during the last semester, including the dean of the faculty, Joseph Chuma, head of Electrical Engineering, Shedden Masupe, and Mechanical Engineering senior Professor Ola Dirang.
“In our view, if UB does not implement extraordinary measures to stop the tide, the staff movements will continue unabated,” FAPRC warns. BUIST recently advertised undergraduate and graduate engineering programmes that replicate those offered by FET.
FAPRC contends that at a strategic level, this heightens competition in staff and student recruitment between FET and the well-resourced BIUST. BIUST pays staff 40 percent more than FET, and has competitive conditions of work. The paper says the existence of replica programmes at BIUST can only lead to the exodus of more academic staff from FET.
Furthermore, BIUST offers students sponsorships for MSc/PhD programmes, which makes for intensified research and direct transition from undergraduate to graduate programmes.
The paper attributes FET’s inability to recruit and retain staff at various levels of the academic and technical cadre to poor salaries, tenure conditions, immigration issues and a high teaching load.
FAPRC is also concerned that the exodus of highly qualified staff from FET will undermine the school’s accreditation of programmes, as such a process requires staff at different levels with certain specialisations and capabilities.
Failure in the accreditation of programmes will make FET irrelevant and less attractive to students and industry. The paper further observes that remaining staff members with the same qualifications as those who joined BIUST may feel inferior. It says that such sentiment has the potential to condemn UB to a second choice institution.
FET is awaiting response from Fako who promised to take the matter up with government. For his part, BIUST spokesperson Shakie Kebaswele says they will continue to recruit.“It will be a lapse in its corporate governance practice if the university would marginalize some applicants on the grounds of belonging to certain institutions,” he said.
The introduction of new programmes and the full scale commencement of graduate programmes (Master’s and Doctoral) in the near future are driving the recruitment drive at BIUST. The current BIUST total staff complement is about 160 of which 50 percent is academic.
Plans are underway to increase the current staffing levels to 200 by the end of the year and around 300 by mid-2014. The numbers will grow proportionate to the annual increase in the number of students and new academic programmes.