The 16th November 2015 marked the end of the Polytechnic of Namibia (P.o.N) and the commencement of the Namibian University of Science and Technology (N.U.S.T), as stipulated by the NUST Act No. 7 of 2015 (Government gazette No. 5827) on 14 September 2015.
After years of deliberation, the Higher Education Institution (HEI) formerly known as the P.o.N formally applied for the name change in 2008. It, however, took four more years for cabinet to approve its renaming to NUST on 12th December 2012. The renaming process only picked up pace in 2015 though. The National assembly approved the NUST ACT on 9 July 2015 and on 12 August 2015 the Act was signed into play by President Hage Geingob. The NUST Act was gazetted.
“A better future is a future of greater human capital, and a better future is a future of greater institutions. Prosperity is not wealth, Prosperity is about well-being. Two thirds of a nation’s wealth lies in human capital and institutions. If you have a low capacity of human capital or failing institutions, you cannot have a performing economy,” Tjama Tjivikua, former Rector of P.o.N and first Vice Chancellor of N.U.S.T.
The official launch of NUST is likely to take place in February 2016 to mark the beginning of a new academic year. Several major and minor changes can be expect to follow. The Rector and vice-Rector titles will cease to exist, as they will now be known as the Vice-chancellor and Deputy Vice- chancellor respectively.
Although there are potential candidates, NUST has not decided on a Chancellor just yet. Students can also expect the renaming of Schools to Faculties, among other major and minor alterations. The P.o.N has its roots in the establishment of the Academy for Tertiary Education by ACT No. 13 of 1980.
Classes in Teacher Training and Secretarial Courses started on 14th January 1980. Five years later, another Act, number 9 of 1985 was promulgated. The Academy consisting of a university component (the present University of Namibia) a Technikon, and College for Out of School Training was established.
Shortly after independence in 1990 it was resolved that the three components be collapsed into two independent HEI, namely, U.N.A.M and P.oN. The former Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) became an autonomous and independent entity back in 1995, starting with only 2500 students. 20 years later it has grown to accommodate about 13 000 Namibian, SADC, and International students.
The HEI, which now sits on 15 hectares of land, started operating on only had 3 hectares of land. Through the years, P.o.N added a Library, an Engineering building, a medical building, media building and the hotel school. According to Tjivikua, NUST would need at least four new faculty buildings at the cost of about N$200 million each.
Although N.U.S.T intends to keep to the P.o.N initial resolve, the HEI will not limit itself by catering only to science and technology disciplines. N.U.S.T aims to broaden its scope to accommodate other key fields and qualifications. The institution recently unveiled its new logo and academic crest to members of the media.
The entire rebranding and official N.U.S.T launch is set to cost around N$25 million. The above figure is set to include everything from academic regalia to rebranding of cars and new signs at main entrance, among others.
We are yet to find out whether the HEI intends to swap P.o.N qualifications for N.U.S.T credentials.