Mobility of Engineering and Technology Professionals and its Impact on the Quality of Engineering and Technology Education: The Case of Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe

Mobility of Engineering and Technology Professionals and its Impact on the Quality of Engineering and Technology Education: The Case of Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe

Fredreck Chinyemba (Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe)
DOI: 10.4018/ijqaete.2011070104
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Abstract

This study explores the impact of mobility of qualified and experienced engineering and technology lecturers on the quality of engineering and technology education. A structured questionnaire was used to collect data from students, lecturers, Heads of Departments and Academic Deans at Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe. The findings from this study indicate that the absence of experienced and qualified professionals has a negative effect on the quality of engineering and technology education. The lecturer’s experience is considered a rich legitimate source of quality. Findings also reveal that the use of teaching assistants and part time lecturers as an alternative to experienced professionals, coupled with lack of resources, adversely impacted on the quality of graduates from the institution. Essentially, lectures conducted were characterized by poor instructional delivery, rushing through courses and over burdened lecturers. Scientific research output was significantly low and productive time was being wasted on human resource issues.
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Introduction And Background Of The Study

Shortages of professionals due to mobility of qualified and experienced staff in various major fields of study in science, engineering and technology is not a phenomenon linked to Zimbabwe only. Elsewhere, for example in United States (Ramo, 1983), Africa (Sawyerr, 2002, 2004; Kotecha, 2008), Jamaica, Botswana and South Africa (Morgan, Sives, & Appleton, 2005) different and sometimes unprecedented levels of migration of specialized professionals have been reported. Meanwhile, enrolment patterns of contact students in institutions of higher education in science, engineering and technology fields at undergraduate levels have increased significantly, despite throughout rates remaining low (Kotecha, 2008). For example, Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT), Zimbabwe. Even then, enrolments in science, engineering and technology remain insufficient to meet, broadly, Southern Africa’s regional needs as very few students are enrolled at postgraduate level (Kotecha, 2008). Studies have shown that increasing enrolments place constraints on institutional capacity and impacts on the quality of education (Butcher et al. in Kotecha, 2008, p. 50).

Southern Africa Regional Universities Association (SARUA) describe “brain drain” from various Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries to South Africa, a phenomenon that has to be reversed if regional efforts for higher education development are to yield incremental results in engineering and technology education (Kotecha, 2008). In addition, the SARUA regional base line survey findings cite a range of background factors that currently constrain scientific research and the academic staffing capacity in Southern Africa in the fields of science, engineering and technology education. The following general constraints in higher education public institutions were identified as affecting the quality of engineering and technology education (Kotecha, 2008, p. 27):

  • Brain drain in which professionals are moving to other countries – this has mainly affected not only universities in Zimbabwe, but other countries like Zambia and Malawi.

  • Research/academic consultancy that may be linked to counter low academic salaries in many SADC countries. SARUA see this trend as weakening the fragile base of many scientific institutions.

  • Student “flight” to enroll in postgraduate study (movement caused as result of academic studies). SADC has a number of recently established universities that have not introduced postgraduate programmes to counteract student “flight”. Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) in Zimbabwe is a case example.

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