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Universities make $2 billion profits

by Staff reporter
04 Mar 2022 at 00:36hrs | Views
LOCAL universities have made profits worth over $2 billion in producing Covid-19 personal protective as part of providing home grown solutions to national problems.

In the past, industry among other players, had raised concerns that the country's universities were not producing graduates that address national challenges.

In response to concerns from various stakeholders, the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development adopted Education 5.0 which compels higher and tertiary institutions to produce goods and services.

Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira on Wednesday told National Assembly members that the new policy thrust is bearing fruits for the country's universities.

Legislators had quizzed him on what interventions Government put in place to capacitate tertiary institutions so that they respond to national problems.

"You would know that Government, for the past four years, has embarked on funding innovation hubs as well as industrial parks for universities.

The idea is that we take this as our initial investment to start this engine but once they have taken off, they are likely to be able to change their pipeline of income from merely student fees to industrialisation-based fees.

I will give an example in order to give way to this point – in 2020, Government invested $33 million for the industrial production of sanitisers and PPEs to all universities but so far, all universities combined; we have produced well over $2 billion from this initial investment," said Prof Murwira.

He said through Education 5.0 universities can become multi-billion-dollar industries as has been done by some global institutions.

"If you look at for example, a university in the United States called Harvard, it is worth more than US$240 billion. It is because for a long time, they realised that all industries and every wealth that we have, comes from the human mind.

It is only the human being that you can put anywhere on earth and they can build a town or industry and so forth.

Our place of salvation is basically our places of learning," said Prof Murwira.

"Using this method of making sure that every university has an industrial park and so forth, we will be able to make them multi-billion-dollar holdings. When they are like that, then this country is also a multi-trillion-dollar economy.

It is this that has made all other countries that are developed to be developed. It is because of the use of intellectual property. So far, all universities combined have almost 500 patent files that have been done in the past two years.

This is wealth and it comes from the head."

The Minister said Government is looking forward to a scenario where universities will compete to enrol intelligent students whom they will provide scholarships as opposed to the prevailing situation where they require fees for enrolment.

He said the universities are also in the process of creating local industries.

"As we speak now, we are putting up factories at Chinhoyi University of Technology which are also learning places because students cannot just all of a sudden become industrialists without having seen one when they were learning.

We are also putting up at Midlands State University similar structures," he said.

"We have put up a factory at Rutenga for Marula. We were amazed by the community's response and about 30 000 households are collecting marula and putting it at the factory.

Everybody is participating. We believe that using this method, we will be able to make sure that the income of the universities will be coming more from their activities, but of course supported by inputs from Parliament."

Institutions such as the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) have also benefited from Government funding.

The university is soon expected to start manufacturing Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) kits following delivery of a US$86 000-reagents manufacturing machine.

The country has been importing PCR kits for Covid-19 tests and Government last year released funds to Nust to procure the Oligomaker reagents manufacturing machine, which should reduce test costs by at least 60 percent.

At the moment, a conclusive PCR test costs around US$60, but once the machine becomes operational, it will reduce the cost to about US$20.

Source - The Chronicle