01 August 2022

The programme enables academic and support staff at higher education institutes in less-developed countries to travel and receive training as well as participate in various aspects of higher education at selected tertiary institutions in the European Union.

UMP staff members Mr John Seema, Ms Elsie Mokwena, and Ms Sebuki Mankge joined Professor Victor Mlambo, who together with colleagues Mr Edmore Mashatise and Dr Mitch Crook at HAU, successfully applied for EUR 32 172.00 (R550 000) funding under this programme.

The application requested funding to enable the four UMP staff members to participate in the mobility programme. After an open invitation for expressions of interest supported with motivations, Mr Seema, Ms Mankge, and Ms Mokwena, were selected to join Professor Mlambo as participants of the programme.

“However, commencement of the mobility programme was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We were eventually able to kickstart the programme on the 18th of June 2022, when we travelled to HAU to begin the programme,” explains Professor Mlambo.

Mutually beneficial teaching and learning opportunities

The programme activities began on the 20 June 2022, and they included shadowing HAU staff as they delivered lectures as well as participating in HAU's peer observation programme.

They were also given the opportunity to share ideas on how peer observations can be used for a lecturer's personal development rather than just for quality control. This was ably coordinated by Jane Headley of HAU.

“This provided staff with a chance to share peer observation templates used by both HAU and UMP and compare notes on the appropriateness of these tools and how well they align with Gosling's peer observation models,” says Professor Mlambo.

Participating UMP staff members were also afforded the opportunity to deliver guest lectures at the host institution. This provided them with an opportunity to interact with Marshall Papworth students in a classroom setting at HAU.

UMP staff further enjoyed a related and illuminating session with Emily Chapman-Waterhouse on Good Practice in Teaching, before joining Julia Casperd on a farm walk discussing sustainable agriculture.

”The group also had the pleasure of meeting the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of HAU, Professor Michel Lee, where sustainable farming and food issues as well possible collaborations between the two universities were discussed.

Postgraduate student management challenges and opportunities were discussed with Dr Martin Hare, who is the Director of Postgraduate Research at HAU.

All four candidates spent time with HAU staff who operate in similar areas of expertise and shared notes and sought collaborative research and training opportunities. Professor Mlambo met with Professor Lian Sinclair and Dr Tim Snelling, who are both ruminant nutritionists; Mr Seema met with Dr D Paparas, an Agri-Business and Economics specialist; Ms Mokwena met with Dr Tom Pope, a pesticides and crop management expert; and Ms Sebuki Mankge met with Dr Paula Misciewicz, whose specialization is soil physics.

Dr Victoria Talbot, the Laboratory Manager at HAU took UMP staff on a tour of all the laboratories that serve HAU. This was an opportunity to share ideas on best practice as far as management of higher education laboratories is concerned.

Dr Ed Harris, a Statistician, took time to train UMP staff members on how to use the open software "R" for various statistical applications spanning animal science, soil science, agri-business and economics, and crop production, including horticulture.

Professor Mlambo further explained that during the second phase of the programme, selected HAU staff members would be spending two weeks at UMP, during which they will deliver seminars and workshops, and share best practice in terms of quality assurance practices, teaching and learning, research, and community engagement in agricultural sciences and related fields. HAU staff are expected on the UMP Mbombela campus sometime in late September or early October 2022.

@ Story by Lisa Thabethe. Pictures Supplied.