Varsity merely postponing problems it must deal with

MANAGEMENT at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT) must resist attempts to embark on gung-ho tactics to address what appears to be a simple labour dispute.
The troubled university this week began temporarily importing lecturers from sister universities after local lecturers embarked on strike.
The decision was as unwise as it was unfortunate.
Instead of bridging differences between the two sides the move to hire staff from elsewhere will only serve to drive a wedge between management and academic staff.
It also poisons what has already been a complicated relationship between the two sides.
The move to airlift lecturers, albeit on a temporary basis, will not help in the search for a lasting solution for the troubled university.
It is precisely for this reason that the two sides must engage in a fresh attempt at dialogue aimed at finding a lasting solution to the crisis. The two sides must engage until they find each other.
For a start some of the lecturers’ demands are not unreasonable as to be dismissed off hand.
For instance the lecturers want management to improve their conditions of service.
They have complained that they are being over-worked.
They want management to hire more lecturers to lessen what they claim is an unbearable workload.
They want management to review their employment contracts.
They want management to lift a policy that requires teaching staff to be stationed at the campus during working hours.
These demands appear legitimate.
Management must deal with these demands in a sober manner.
But for management to then threaten to import staff from sister universities to plug the manpower crisis, is indeed bizarre.
We think the move is a knee-jerk reaction that does little to address the root cause of the conflict.
Management at Limkokwing must resist the urge to over-react to what appear to be legitimate labour demands.
By hiring staff from sister universities Limkokwing is merely postponing a problem that it must tackle head on.
The decision to hire expatriate staff will not resolve the fundamental problems that are at the heart of the crisis.
As we have argued in previous editorials the problems at Limkokwing are structural.
For a start we think a university of this magnitude should not be run by remote control from Malaysia.
Unless management appoints an experienced vice-chancellor to run the show Limkokwing shall forever be locked in crisis mode.
Management must therefore act to fix this structural monster.
We believe the university has amazing potential to address Lesotho’s economic and industrial needs.
Limkokwing has one of the most progressive curricula on paper and we believe it can play an important role in the education of Basotho children if it puts its house in order.
However, we sense that the university seems determined to press the self-destruct button by squandering the present goodwill.
Hardly a month passes without the institution hogging the limelight for the wrong reasons.
This must change.
The university must also strike a healthy balance between its commercial interests and its core business of imparting knowledge to Basotho youths.
Limkokwing must hire competent staff who it pays well.
Management must not pick lecturers from the bottom end of the market.
We all know that sub-standard lecturers can only produce sub-standard graduates.
The university must pay lecturers well if it entertains ambitions of attracting quality staff to deliver world-class education to its students.
We also think the problem at Limkokwing boils do wn to a dearth of leadership.
The owners in Malaysia must relinquish their iron-like grip on the university and appoint someone in Maseru to run the show.
Anything else will mean a continuous repeat of the same drudgery that we have come to associate with the university.

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