The University of Johannesburg (UJ) Council has now indicated its support for UJ’s GES 4.0 catalytic initiative and the associated budget – the final stage in taking the GES 4.0 proposal through Senate and other leadership groups of the University. Now that Council has approved, work begins to rollout this initiative.
Dramatic changes in the world of work and in how humans live their lives and interact have captured worldwide attention, due to the disruptions technological advancements bring and the opportunities they offer. We are entering a new industrial era, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). These contemporary global trends are catapulting the world towards “digital”, with the rapid emergence of a confluence of multiple technologies. Africa, in coming late and as a passive recipient to the past three industrial revolutions, has failed to reap the benefits from the industrial and productive progress made globally. However, Africa has learnt from these past experiences: The South African government, together with corporates, has now identified and embraced technology as a key differentiator for the future, in order for us also to compete on the world stage.
At the University of Johannesburg (UJ), we recognise the role of universities in developing skills for future generations, with academia navigating technological directions for the future. Through the GES 4.0 Initiative, UJ seeks to position itself within the context of the changing social, political and economic fortunes of Africa. The GES 4.0, borne out of the first phase of the GES Initiative of 2013, is our strategic investment initiative with implications for key aspects of our University: the human component, technology and the human/technology interface, while at the same time, it seeks to support an agile and responsive execution approach to the GES 4.0 strategy. In response to digital trends we will engage as well as support our staff members across all functions and faculties and college to develop new skills and ways of doing business that are relevant to their domains.
Our efforts will be geared towards transformation, inclusiveness and excellence. Our approach will be fully inclusive and rolled out in a collective manner – ensuring that we have significant benefits and a strong return on investments, with positive outcomes in terms of staff capacity development and benefits to our students. Ultimately, our GES 4.0 strategy is intended to ensure that UJ acquires the architecture of a digital university based on fundamental infrastructure, agility, technology and, most importantly, people. Above all, we will continue to leverage on the progress made from the benefits gained from previous investments in GES.
What will the GES 4.0 Initiative offer?
A number of catalytic interventions in the areas of Research and Innovation (R&I), Teaching and Learning (T&L), Infrastructure development and Communication will be supported. In the area of R&I, these include continued support for Distinguished Academics on fixed-term contracts and as visitors, as well as support for postdoctoral fellows and postgraduate students in interdisciplinary areas aligned to 4IR. New instruments include support for Professors of Practice as well as for fast emerging scholars, support for multi- and interdisciplinary pilot projects, and a number of programmes to consolidate and enhance innovation activities within UJ.
For T&L, there will be an array of offerings geared towards enhancing academic quality, to intensify the learning experience, to pioneer new forms of teaching, and to prepare graduates optimally for a changing world of work.
Preparations for IT infrastructure developments are underway to support these T&L and R&I interventions and activities, while at the same time ensuring improved operational efficiency across academic and professional support domains.
Of utmost importance to achieving our goal is communication and how we as an institution communicate our vision. In this regard, Strategic Communications and Marketing and Branding, have planned activities to publicise the GES 4.0 initiative through internal and external communication platforms.
I would like to acknowledge in appreciation all members of staff, who contributed in shaping the GES 4.0 catalytic initiative towards this milestone of receiving Council approval.
Let’s walk through the next phase of this journey together – as the African proverb says, “If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together”. Masibambisane…