The Institutions of Higher Learning throughout the world inevitably find themselves operating in a more dynamic environment, which is characterized by a significant number of uncertainties. In recognition of the tremendous changes that the university operational landscape has undergone, leaders are accordingly expected to rise to the occasion and ensure that they adapt and respond quickly. Amongst the vital response mechanisms, is the need for universities to adopt and employ diverse approaches required to effectively manage their operations, for navigating the intersection of employees, technologies, and engagement, and most importantly sustain business operations in the face of uncertainty and adversity. It is believed that the institutions of higher learning that are reluctant to undergo transformation and evolution are most likely to miss out on many opportunities that their changing operational environment offers.
There is an unquestionable need to reimagine the future of universities from many different perspectives, which among others include: Seeing both the university employees and students walking out / shunning Institutions of Higher Learning (HL) that demonstrate resistance to adapt to the rapidly changing operational demands/needs. In the face of mounting uncertainty, universities are demanding effortless, instant, and customized digital experiences. University-industry partnerships are being reimagined the world over. The employability of university graduates is continuously being questioned. Stakeholders are calling for sustainable university products and services. And work is being reimagined universally. Achieving excellence in higher education is no small feat, considering the ever-shifting leadership demands imposed by the university’s environmental uncertainties. There exists a substantial and overwhelming pool of evidence to illustrate that many institutions of higher learning have in the past decade experienced sporadic shifts in strategic leadership and governance in a way that has presented the leadership at universities with an excellent opportunity to respond timeously and meaningfully to agile teaching, learning, research, and innovation needs.
Since its establishment 40 years ago, the University of Venda has been relentless in its pursuit of an effective response to this challenge through various strategic initiatives, the latest of which is the renewed medium-term strategic trajectory (2021-2025), which is essentially premised on the need to ensure that the university becomes a leader in engaged scholarship by producing graduates that are locally relevant and globally competitive. This strategic commitment has been mooted to help steer the university towards the realization of its full potential as well as positioning it for impact and relevance.
For the institution of higher learning that it is, the University of Venda strongly believes that having strategic risk conversations on inclusive, inspiring, and distinctive experiences internally and across the broader Higher Education (HE) sector will create an enabling environment for much-needed transitions going forward and serve to guide the HE institutions in preparing for future challenges that might prevail as the direct consequences of uncertainty that comes with entering into unchartered territories.
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