UNIVEN is the Winning University in the EDHE Intervarsity 2020

By virtue of being the hosting institution to the EDHE Studentpreneur of the Year 2020, the University of Venda (UNIVEN) was pronounced the Winning University in the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity 2020 in Johannesburg last Friday.

In receiving this honour on behalf of UNIVEN, Dr Robert Martin, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Operations, said this could only mean that their staff and students are on the right track. "We are very excited that staff and students have bought into our strategy. We want to encourage them to continue because we have now set a benchmark that we would like to maintain in our institution. We also want to add value to what the EDHE programme and the rest of the country expects us to play in the entrepreneurship space."

Dr Martin congratulated the students and staff at UNIVEN for their passion in entrepreneurship. He said this was the second time in two consecutive years that UNIVEN was represented in the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity finals. The competition itself started in 2019 and was running for the second time in 2020.

"So thank you very much," Dr Martin went on to say. "I very humbly accept this award on behalf of the university."

Dr Robert Martin

This is the second time that the EDHE spotlight shines on Dr Robert Martin. At the Intervarsity finals in 2019, the UNIVEN DVC: Operations was publicly acknowledged for an exceptional role he had played at his institution, advancing entrepreneurship in a short space of time. Handing him the 2019 award was Dr Diane Parker (left), Deputy Director-General: University Education in the Department of Higher Education and Training. On that day, Dr Norah Clarke, Director at EDHE, said: "Watch this space for what might just come out of UNIVEN." With the EDHE Studentpreneur of the Year 2020 emerging from that institution in 2020, Dr Clarke's words have certainly come to pass.

Professor Deresh Ramjugernath wins EDHE DVC Award 2020

The 2020 Intervarsity finals also saw Professor Deresh Ramjugernath (right), Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), being conferred the EDHE DVC Award dedicated to a Deputy Vice-Chancellor who gave exceptional institutional support for entrepreneurship development in 2020. Professor Ramjugernath was one of seven DVCs nominated by their institutions for this award.

By winning in this regard, Professor Ramjugernath was acknowledged for having displayed the following attributes at UKZN:

  • Advocacy: spoken out in support of entrepreneurship development within the university,
  • Enablement: enabled entrepreneurship through establishing support structures and policies, creating new positions, channeling funding.
  • National leadership: demonstrated visible public leadership towards advancing entrepreneurship development at his institution, through speaking for the entrepreneurship agenda and serving on forums.
  • Physical support: demonstrated personal support for entrepreneurship at his university through direct personal engagement and attending relevant events, among other attributes.
Professor Deresh Ramjugernath

As he expressed deep honour for this recognition, Professor Ramjugernath said "I keep saying to the team at UKZN, that if we, as an institution, produced 300 entrepreneurs a year and multiplied that by the 26 public universities, we would see tremendous growth in enterprise development and in entrepreneurship in the country. This would lead to job creation and economic growth."

He voiced appreciation for EDHE's acknowledgement of the contribution he had made "in my own little way to this culture of entrepreneurship, more at the regional level" than nationally, further stating that supporting the entrepreneurship agenda takes an entire team. In that regard he said: "I would like to recognise the tremendous work being undertaken by my colleagues at UKZN for developing a strong institutional culture of entrepreneurship. In particular, the team that are institutional custodians of entrepreneurship are the UKZN InQubator. I thank the team for the nomination and the EDHE programme for the acknowledgement of the efforts we've made to advance entrepreneurship in the Higher Education sector and nationally."

Professor Ramjugernath took that opportunity to congratulate "the fantastic studentpreneurs" attending the Intervarsity awards ceremony; the EDHE programme team "for the fantastic work they've done for the past three years, facilitating and embedding this culture of entrepreneurship that we still desperately need within the SA higher education system."

He also paid tribute to all fellow DVCs nominated alongside himself, "for the great work they are also doing at their institutions in promoting student entrepreneurship." Other DVCs nominated for this award were: Professor Marcus Ramogale, DVC: Teaching and Learning and now Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal at the Mangosuthu University of Technology; Professor Alfred Ngowi, DVC for Research, Innovation and Engagement at the Central University of Technology; Professor Eugene Cloete, Vice-Rector: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies at Stellenbosch University; Professor Jesika Singh, DVC: Research, Innovation and Partnerships at the University of Limpopo; Dr Robert Martin of UNIVEN and Professor Lis Lange, DVC: Teaching and Learning at the University of Cape Town.

Linking in remotely to this ceremony, Professor Ahmed Bawa (right), USAf's CEO, said, having occupied both vice-chancellor and deputy vice-chancellor positions in South Africa's universities, he knew from experience that the actual work of running a university takes place at the level of a DVC. He commended the EDHE programme for having focused at that level to confer this award. "All DVCs are actively supporting the transformation of our universities to become entrepreneurial ecosystems -- places that foster entrepreneurship."

Professor Bawa said universities can, and should, give every student an opportunity to think entrepreneurially – to develop values and emotions to become entrepreneurs. "That's the kind of trait we must identify in our DVCs -- the extent to which they foster entrepreneurship - of course within the context of a university also creating the right culture for, and allocating the right resources to foster this agenda."

He cautioned that "there will come a time when students choose universities on their ability to foster entrepreneurship" - clearly stating that institutions which will stand head and shoulders above others in this regard will attract the highest number, and best crop of students looking to be equipped in entrepreneurship.

Professor Ahmed Bawa

Professor Marcus Ramogale receives an award for remarkable progress in Entrepreneurship

Professor Marcus Ramogale

Still at the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity finals last Friday, yet another award was bestowed on Professor Marcus Ramogale (left), Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal at the Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) for the progress that MUT had made in advancing entrepreneurship.

"Humbled and honoured" by this acknowledgement, Professor Ramogale said MUT's entrepreneurial strides started when their Senate approved the University's core curriculum as part of its distinct identity in 2015. "That included entrepreneurship education. Being a university of technology, we felt that we would distinguish ourselves if we developed in every graduate, some entrepreneurship skills. For me what has been even more remarkable is the way students have taken to this idea. When you tell them that there are options in the world, and that not all of us will be employees, I see remarkable reception among them. And this has really been an impetus behind the progress we've made." He said MUT students go through a gruelling course in entrepreneurship. Those who develop a keener interest can go on to an advanced course and create their own businesses.

"Our message to students all the time is that there may be no jobs in our country. But there is a lot of work, if we conceive of work as being opportunities to solve problems. There are so many problems within our country that if students begin to look for work, not jobs, I'm sure the problem of unemployment would be solved." He added that that requires a change of mindset, and that students be taught differently.

"All of us come from families which say that you have to go to school, get a good education and get a good job. So we have to change that narrative and make students aware that there are other options. We're very pleased that MUT students are already taking this message to heart. I thank my colleagues at MUT, for all their support – particular Dr B Ntshangase, Dean of our Faculty of Management Sciences, who nominated me for this award. I also want to thank the colleagues within EDHE, the DHET and USAf."

The final institutional winner announced at the Intervarsity finals was Goldfields TVET college, which was recognised for the best institutional contribution to the Student Entrepreneurship Week 2020 event during early November.

the audience
the audience

The EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity finals were a culmination of what has been building up from the first quarter of 2020, at all 26 public universities. The Intervarsity is one of EDHE's three annual flagship programmes alongside the annual EDHE Lekgotla and the annual Student Entrepreneurship Week. The EDHE programme, a partnership between the Department of Higher Education and Training and Universities South Africa, is funded mainly from the DHET's University Capacity Development Programme.

The writer, 'Mateboho Green, is Manager: Corporate Communication at Universities South Africa.