The Leadership Advancement Workshops are the brainchild of the Association of African Universities (AAU). The Ninth edition was hosted by Great Zimbabwe University in collaboration with Stellenbosch University under the theme “University Advancement: A Systematic Approach – the Key Role of the Vice Chancellor and Senior University Leaders”. The three-day workshop was held at the Kingdom Hotel in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, from 28 to 30 June 2016 and brought together twenty-nine (29) participants drawn from seventeen (17) Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Africa.
The Leadership Advancement Workshop took off amidst an array of factors that are changing the landscape of Higher Education. It was observed that most universities are grappling with sustainability challenges in the face of increasingly dwindling government support, the massive impact of Internet and online education while teaching and learning are still organized within university walls using outdated models, increased student activism, graduate unemployment and persistent underemployment, a worrying economic forecast of a constant slow down of global growth (with implications on numbers of international students) and issues arising from the global ageing population (with effects on lifelong learning strategies and numbers of local students).
The just ended workshop, therefore, sought to provide a platform for HEIs to develop strategies aimed at ensuring university sustainability. The main objective was to assess university leadership’s readiness to tackle the challenges facing HEIs, arm universities with competencies needed for the launch of a campaign aimed at creating awareness, building relationships and generating support for the same’s teaching, research and community service responsibilities, with a particular focus on the role of the Vice Chancellor and Senior Leadership. With respect to methodology, presentations, small group discussions, panel and plenary discussions were used.
Taking into consideration all the emerging perspectives during the course of the workshop, participants recommended that University leadership should:
- Work towards increasing the revenue base to support the sustainability of the institution;
- Focus on institutional development and resource mobilisation, endowments, dedicated paid-for research projects and commercialisation in order to improve higher education institutions’ sustainability;
- Develop a network of lifetime relationships with key stakeholders to turn into a steady stream of income. The key stakeholders include, but are not limited to, staff, students (current and prospective), alumni, parents and the general public, donors and strategic partners, government and the media.
- Create a compelling vision and epitomise the vision and mission of university advancement as well as liaise at all levels and with all stakeholders;
- Take ownership of the advancement campaign and assume a strategic role. Although the importance of engaging expertise in line with the advancement drive was underscored, the role of the Vice Chancellor as the Chief Advancement Officer was emphasised if the advancement campaign was to succeed.
- Be the first investor: invest in key human resources (communication, marketing and public relations), the alumni and fundraising projects in order to champion the advancement initiative;
- Ensure integration of advancement functions – whatever the organizational structure, the integration of advancement functions operationally improves results;
- Integrity – build trust and earn confidence of all. Acknowledge all your donors and supporters and give them an account of their finances.
- Devote time to cultivating major donors and strive for donor retention as well as donor acquisition;
- Ensure high academic standards, peaceful, stable academic programmes; and
- Be patient and believe in the campaign.
Report Submitted by: Mrs Yvette Quashie, Project Officer – University Advancement Workshops