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Why the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland Failed: Lessons from the Brief History of a Regional University in Southern Africa

Mokopakgosi, Brian T.

Abstract:
This article traces the establishment and development of the tripartite University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (UBLS), attempting to explain why it failed and the timing of that failure. I argue that the root causes lay in the nature of the Royal Charter that established it, its evolving governance system and disagreements about its direction of development. Issues such as racial conflict and the renewal of the vice chancellor’s contract, which some observers have used to explain the break-up of the institution, were intended to conceal the real areas of conflict. This article places the discussion within the broader comparative context of higher education in the immediate post-independence period and concludes that the UBLS failed because of the strong insular nationalism of the BLS countries (i.e., Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland) combined with the absence of a spirit of regionalism similar to that found elsewhere in newly independent regions such as the Caribbean and the South Pacific. It thus provides a discussion of the necessary conditions for successful multicountry partnerships then and now, as well as problems to be avoided. Introduction Recently, student unrest at the University of Botswana caused lectures to be cancelled on 25, 26 and 27 January 2012. According to university managers, the unrest was caused by the cancellation of supplementary examinations; the decision to close a students’ bar at Block 411; numerous concerns about incidents at the new medical school; and the management’s decision to end the annual sports competitions between students of the universities of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland without consulting the stakeholders (i.e., the students). Students saw the last decision as breaking a long-standing tradition dating from the time when the three countries jointly owned the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (UBLS). Although no document or agreement defines the relationship between the three universities, students and staff have built strong connections over the past 37 years. These include occasional meetings of the vice chancellors, student exchanges, exchange of external examiners, joint conferences and jointly published journals.

Full text available as: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03057070.2013.796737#.UcgHhNjwVQc

 


Document Title: Why the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland Failed: Lessons from the Brief History of a Regional University in Southern Africa
Journal: Journal of Southern African Studies
Volume: 39
Issue: 2
No. of Pages: 465-480


Document Type:Journal Article (Peer Reviewed)
Subject Area:National Systems and Comparative Studies
Country:Southern Africa
Keywords:Higher Education, Historically Disadvantaged Institutions HDI s, Higher Education Institutions HEI s, History of Higher Education, Failure, Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland


File Size: Bytes
Date Added:25 June 2013


Brian T. Mokopakgosi (2013): Why the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland Failed: Lessons from the Brief History of a Regional University in Southern Africa,, Journal of Southern African Studies 39:2, 465-480