THE Ministry of Education has granted the Polytechnic of Namibia university status after a wait of more than two years.
The announcement was made by Minister Abraham Iyambo, who said that the Polytechnic of Namibia would become the University of Science and Technology.
Iyambo said this directive was issued by Cabinet at its meeting this week.
But Cabinet ordered that the institution retain certificate and diploma courses for a maximum period of five years, Iyambo said.
Moreover, Cabinet directed the University of Namibia (Unam) to limit any further expansion into certificate and diploma courses. Instead, the Ministry of Education was instructed to support Unam "in concentrating on post-graduate study and specifically doctoral study".
The directives follow a review report of higher education in Namibia.
The Cabinet also instructed the ministry to spearhead the establishment of a high-level inter-ministerial committee, comprising the ministries of Education, Finance, Trade and Industry, Labour and Social Welfare, Home Affairs and Immigration, Works and Transport, Information and Communication Technology and the National Planning Commission (NPC) to help with higher education reform.
The Education Ministry must also see to it that representatives from the private sector are invited to meetings of the committee "from time to time in order to discuss the private sector's high skills' needs".
Cabinet also directed the Education Ministry to meet with leaders of higher education institutions to discuss the review report "and charter the way forward".
The Ministry of Education must also strengthen higher education human resources expertise in the ministry as well as the Namibia Qualifications Authority.
They must further ensure that measures are put in place to encourage research by higher education institutions and to strengthen research as a national priority.
Also on the cards are two more universities within the next ten years to accommodate the increasing number of school leavers.
Cabinet further directed that accommodation for students at existing institutions as well as libraries and laboratories should be increased.
The National Council for Higher Education was instructed to develop a comprehensive academic planning framework for higher education institutions in Namibia.
This framework should include a system of institutional knowledge priority areas and a knowledge classification system.
It must also include a higher education management information system which must support both academic and enrolment planning.
Also at yesterday's press conference, the deputy minister of education, David Namwandi, announced that the Vocational Education and Training (VET) levy which is to be implemented from June 1 will be payable to the Namibia Training Authority (NTA) on a monthly basis.
All employers with an annual payroll of N$350 000 will have to pay 1,5% of that annual payroll over to the NTA.
Employers who do not comply with the payments face penalties and will be charged interest.