The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted a Town and Gown event to cement relationships between academia and business in the province.

At the function, UKZN’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Albert van Jaarsveld shared highlights from the University’s new strategy, including the focus on being “people-centred” and not being seen as an “ivory tower”.

Van Jaarsveld said UKZN was keen to produce graduates moulded as “job creators – rather than people looking for jobs”, and reaffirmed the University’s commitment to transformation and excellence. “We want to focus on transformation and excellence, both of them, not one at the expense of the other,” he said.

Using sport and the performing arts to contribute to nation building and social cohesion were highlighted as priorities in the University’s new strategic direction.

The Chamber’s Dr Pravin Thakur said the University’s goals resonated well with the Chamber in terms of wanting to promote “business for a better world”. Thakur assured UKZN of the Chamber’s support and echoed van Jaarsveld’s thoughts on social cohesion and “creating an Africa for the future”.

Dr Mpilo Ngubane of the eThekwini Municipality Academy outlined the role of the Academy which aspires to contribute to skills development and job opportunities in the eThekwini region. Ngubane, who holds 10 qualifications including two master’s degrees and two doctorates, stressed the importance of partnership and collaboration, saying: “We cannot walk this journey alone.”

View the University’s Strategic Plan: 2017 – 2021.

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

Photograph: Albert Hirasen