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NWU and Makwassie Spruit Enterprises sign MOU

With the youth unemployment rate in South Africa reaching a record high, the North-West University (NWU) is pulling out all the stops to ensure its students are employable after attaining their qualifications.

During 2019, 20 BSc Agriculture students spent numerous hours at Makwassie Spruit Enterprises, a large farming corporation, where they received practical experience on how to run a game and cattle farm.

The NWU and Makwassie Spruit Enterprises decided to make their relationship official. On 3 February 2020, Prof Robert Balfour, the NWU's deputy vice-chancellor for teaching and learning, and Piet Botma, chief executive officer of Makwassie Spruit Enterprises, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on behalf of the two institutions.

The signing of the MOU will commit the NWU and Makwassie Spruit Enterprises on the following as areas of co-operation:

* Offer NWU BSc Agriculture students opportunities to gain practical experience under supervision of NWU staff in line with the daily management practices on the farm;* Offer two or more placements for NRF/other internship (cattle and/or game farming) per year under joint supervision and according to mutually agreed on portfolio of practical skills to be completed;* Making available and/or identifying suitable accommodation (rented) for students, interns, supervising staff and/or researchers;* Joint research activities, including seminars, conferences and public lectures;* Assistance in capacity building at both the NWU and Makwassie Spruit Enterprises;* Joint quality assurance and benchmarking;* Such other projects for mutual benefit that are agreed on by both parties; and* Precautionary measures must be in place to ensure the integrity of all research data is up to date.

According to NWU animal sciences lecturer Prof Paul Lubout, this is a great opportunity for the NWU and the organisation. "We are excited about the opportunities that will come with this MOU. Animal science and general agriculture is an applied science, so the hands-on experience that the students will obtain will be extremely beneficial," he says.

He adds that Makwassie Spruit Enterprises will not only get the opportunity to train animal scientists, but they will also have the advantage of asking the university to conduct research and offer solutions to some of their problems.