It’s been a month since Dr Thandeka Mkhize was appointed as the Senior Director: Centre for Quality Promotion and Assurance at the Durban University of Technology. She joined DUT on the 1st of March 2021 and the warm welcome she received from her colleagues has made her to feel at home.
Speaking about becoming a member of the DUT family, Dr Mkhize said she is honoured as DUT was the first institution that accepted her for higher education studies after she completed matric and was also the first to take a chance on her by offering her a permanent position on completion of her undergraduate studies. She refers to DUT as her home, that holds a special place in her heart and believes she owes much of her career success to DUT. Her aim is for all DUT stakeholders to have a clear understanding of what is quality at DUT.
“It sounds simple but a lot goes into ensuring that actually happens, that you don’t have different interpretations of what is quality within a higher education institution. If I can get to a point where all DUT stakeholders have a clear understanding of what quality is at DUT, I think I would have achieved a lot in this role. The other thing I would like to do is to impact institutional culture such that quality becomes embedded into the institutional culture, it’s not perceived as an add on but becomes part of the DUT way of doing things. Those two things are important to me and if I could achieve them, it would mean that I have delivered according to the requirements of my position,” said Dr Mkhize.
She said the legitimacy of the university lies within the Quality office, stating that in the absence of the Quality office, the credibility of a higher education institution is compromised. Her duties include making sure that DUT has an effective Quality Management System that supports the university in achieving its strategic goals. It involves interacting with statutory bodies on issues of accreditation and quality, ensuring that DUT operates according to national legislation.
One of the challenges she has encountered so far is that there are many fun and exciting projects going on throughout the institution. “I am cognizant of the fact that I need to monitor my load and prioritise, otherwise I run the risk of spreading myself too thin and not delivering on my core duties. I have decided to focus my time on my core responsibilities. The other exciting projects that are there that I have been invited to participate on, I really need to think deeply and consider which ones I go on and which ones I cannot take on at the moment. I am like a kid at the candy store, but I need to focus and make clear for myself, what my goals are and where my priorities should be. I have used that as a guide to decide which projects I should take on,” said Dr Mkhize.
Giving a brief background on herself, Dr Mkhize said she was born at Umkomaas and grew up at Umlazi. She matriculated at Ogwini Comprehensive High School. Attended various higher education institutions in South Africa then completed her PhD at the Rhodes University. She did her undergraduate education up to honours level in Library Science and therefore started working as a Librarian and later moved to lecturing within the Library Science.
“After lecturing I then moved into Quality Assurance, specifically Quality Assurance in Higher Education. I have accumulated diverse experience in this area which includes being part of an international research team funded by the Economic and Social Research Council in the United Kingdom and the South African National Research Foundation jointly. Also for the past few years I was based in the Middle East, this experience helped me to understand the different approaches to higher education quality assurance practices in different parts of the world,” said Dr Mkhize.
She concluded by stating that she is grateful for the opportunity and is willing to do her part to contribute to DUT in realising ENVISION2030.
Pictured: Dr Thandeka Mkhize