Witwatersrand Varsity Turns To UNIPORT For Guidance On Oil And Gas Studies

By Obinna Nwodim

The dominance of oil and gas studies by University of Port Harcourt across the African continent was confirmed last Thursday, when the Vice-Chancellor of  Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg, Professor Loyiso Nongxa, led a high-powered delegation to explore areas of partnership that would facilitate oil and gas studies back at Wits.

Both Universities are to partner in Petroleum Engineering through a split-site programme for Doctoral candidates, amongst other areas of mutually-beneficial partnerships. To speedily achieve the aims and objectives of the emergent partnership, relevant organs of both institutions have been mandated to work out the institutional framework to formalize the joint venture agreements to kick-start the programme.

Receiving the guests, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Joseph Ajienka, who described UNIPORT as one of the premier universities in the Niger Delta region with a population of about 30,000 Undergraduate and 4,000 Graduate students, told his guests that the University is a Centre of Excellence in Petroleum and Gas Engineering, Geosciences, Theatre and Film Studies, Music, Medical Sciences, Sports, Bio- technology and Bio-resources, Ethnic and Conflict Studies and Nomadic Education, expressing willingness to share experience with Wits.

Professor Ajienka also disclosed that the University was developing a Technology Park that would take research to the end users, an Arts Village and Legacy Centres, adding that the focus of the University was more on the oil and gas industry, given its strategic location in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. He pointed out that internationalization of academic programmes at home was the key driver of his Administration's vision of building a world-class Entrepreneurial University that would graduate students with globally benchmarked skills.

In his speech, Vice-Chancellor, Witwatersrand University, Professor Nongxa, who disclosed that by 2022, the University would be one hundred years old, said the visit was essentially to learn from the vast pool of experience of UNIPORT in oil and gas studies, which he described as a new field for his institution as it responds to the growing energy challenge facing the Southern African region.

The Vice-Chancellor said that the focus was to pursue commitment to research and academic excellence, generate high-level skills for Africa, develop successful global graduates, foster creative and innovative networks, attract and retain talented staff and students, as well as public enlightenment and advancement of the public good.

Professor Nongxa also disclosed that Wits, which has about 2,000 international students from over 80 countries is focused on quality research aimed at solving social problems.

According to him, the University had 220 highly-rated researches out of which, 16 were in the A category, seven research institutes and 20 research units, adding that there were also 22 prestigious South African Research Chairs, six Centres of Excellence in specialized areas of study.   
Also on the delegation were: Professor Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor (designate); Professor Rob Moore, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Advancement and Partnership) and Mr Oliver Seale, Director, Special Projects, Vice-Chancellor's Office.

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