How has Universidade Politécnica evolved during its 20 years in education?
Universidade Politécnica benefited from the 1993 law permitting private sector entities to enter the higher education sector, which came into effect on September 13th, 1995. Our first intake was 165 students, and initially we did not have our own building, but partnered with LAM, where we would made five scholarships available in exchange for use of their building. Today, our student body exceeds 7,000. Over the past 20 years, we have expanded geographically from Maputo to Zambezia, Quelimane, Nampula, Nacala, Tete, and Xai Xai. We also have a distance-learning program. In 2004, we opened the first blocks of the 14,000sqm university, which feature two blocks for graduate programs, a rectory, a block housing the central library and our Foundation (FUNDE), a block for the Mozambique Business School, one for the professional technical education and general secondary education, one housing the gym, and another housing the student leisure club.
How is the role of women changing in the education system?
Most of our programs have more women than men, and indeed, former President Guebuza's daughters studied at our institution. There is a movement to promote higher education among women, and a number of corporations also provide higher education for gifted women who would not otherwise have the financial means to study. This movement has borne fruit in that many women have subsequently assumed high positions in international companies.
To what extent is the university leveraging ICT to extend its services beyond the traditional lecture hall through online learning?
The national energy deficit has curbed the uptake of online technology and distance learning. We made an agreement with UNIUBE, the University of Uberaba in Brazil that specializes in enabling distance learning in its home country, covering remote areas such as Amazonas and Mato Grosso. Rather than online education, it relies on distance learning through classic media such as telephony, printed materials, and strategically-located teachers. We have relied on these methods since starting our program in 2007. Last year, 800 students entered this program, whereby distance learning accounts for roughly 10% to 11% of our overall student body.
What are the most important international partnerships of Universidade Politécnica and what strategies do you pursue to increase cooperation with other institutions?
International partnerships have always been our initial strategy. As national pioneers in private education we needed a solid strategy, taking inspiration from other universities abroad. This is why we have internationalized our teaching staff and post-graduate component. We have agreements with PUC-Minas in Brazil, the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil, the Federal Fluminense University in Brazil, PUC-Rio in Brazil, the Lisbon University Institute (ISCTE) in Portugal, the University of Coimbra in Portugal, the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, and the University of Lecce in Italy. With these universities we have established graduation, exchange, and Master's and PhD programs. As part of the arrangement graduates become qualified from both institutions. We have also hosted prominent figures on special occasions to address our institution. Among those figures are Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former President of Brazil and former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Gutierrez.