The idea of a University in the Midlands dates back to the foundation of the National University of Science and Technology when Gweru, which was identified as a possible site for a second university campus in the country, lost its bid to Bulawayo. Two other opportunities to host institutions of higher learning (the Open University and the Catholic University) were also missed by the Midlands Province, when the two universities went to Harare instead. It was in the midst of such disappointments that two initiatives gradually converged to give birth to what has since become the Midlands State University. His Excellency, the President R G Mugabe, on the nudging of the Provincial political leadership of the Midlands, accepted to the idea of a national university being built in the Midlands. This coincided with the then Ministry of Higher Education and Technology's policy of devolution, which was aimed at expanding access to higher education by converting teachers and technical colleges into degree granting institutions. It was through the process of devolution that beginning in 1998 Gweru Teachers College started to enrol students studying for the Bachelor of Commerce with Education and the Bachelor of Science with Education degrees offered by the University of Zimbabwe.
Establishment of the University
In the meantime, although the devolution policy inaugurated an irrevocable process of bringing university education to the Midlands, there was a strong feeling, especially in the Province, that what was being done did not quite amount to the President's promise of a fully fledged state university in the province. Responding to these feelings, but without losing sight of constraints imposed on Government by declining national funds, the Minister of Higher Education and Technology transformed the devolution project at Gweru into Zimbabwe's third state university by means of the State University in the Midlands Act of April 1999.
The new University, whose name was later changed to the Midlands State University, was to be initially housed at the Gweru Teachers College premises. The mandate of the institution was contained in its broad objects which are the advancement of knowledge, the diffusion and extension of arts, science and learning, the preservation, dissemination and enhancement of knowledge that is relevant for the development of the people of Zimbabwe through teaching and research and, so far as is consistent with the objects, the nurturing of the intellectual, aesthetic, social and moral growth of the students at the University.
Vision of the University
To be a unique, development oriented, pace-setting and stakeholder driven University that produces innovative and enterprising graduates.
• Commitment to a culture of problem solving through quality research, teaching and training by means of flexible packaging, work related learning and strategic partnerships with the University's stakeholders for the immediate and ultimate benefit of humanity;
• Commitment to improve the performance of the economy through the promotion of managerial skills and generation, dissemination and application of knowledge;
• Commitment to the recruitment, motivation and retention of staff in an environment of a caring institution;
• Commitment to the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and the virtual classroom, as principal teaching and training modes of delivery and research;
• Commitment to gender equality and equity in student admissions and staff recruitment policies;
• Commitment to enhance the quality of people's lives through new ideas and skills for sustainable utilization of resources; and
• Commitment to promotion of quality research through both taught and research post graduate studies as means of generating new knowledge.
• Driven by honesty, integrity, hard work and passion for excellence tempered by self discipline and care for others;
• Driven by sensitivity to gender equality and equity, needs of the disadvantaged, African culture and devotion to self-sufficiency and professionalism.
To establish a fully semesterised University with 10 faculties, 18 000 students, 900 teaching and 400 support staff, with the requisite services and infrastructure by the year 2015.
The University is administered through the committee system embedded in the statutory instruments that currently govern the operation of the University. This is a system likely to give the university extra mileage in terms of output of resolutions and recommendations. This democratic dispensation has been reinforced through the involvement of all stakeholders, including the university students.
The ultimate goal of MSU is to establish a University with ten faculties by 2015. To date the University offers degree programmes in seven faculties. These are Arts, Commerce, Education, Law, Natural Resources Management and Agriculture, Science and Technology and Social Sciences.
The degree programmes on offer have been strengthened through flexible packaging of modules. Flexible packaging allows students studying for a particular degree to make themselves more marketable by including in this package of studies modules "shopped" from other programmes. This is a new method of teaching and learning in Universities which is meant to satisfy the specific requirements of the students and their chosen professions. The packaging of modules dissolves the regimentalisation of the older educational curricular, hence students become out flexible and well equipped for the special needs and diversity of the actual world of work. The main purpose of flexible packaging is to enable students to overcome professional rigidity so that they can respond positively to new situations, possibilities and challenges of industry, especially within the rapid changes dictated by new technologies and economic environments.
Fully Semesterised University
Midlands State University is a fully semesterised and modularised University. Enrolment takes place twice a year, in March and in August. Modules offered at any level in a semester are available at the same level during the next semester. This arrangement gives an opportunity to those students who, at the end of a semester are required to 'carry' or 'repeat' failed modules to do so in the next semester.
Students enrolled at MSU study for four-year or five-year degree programmes spending their Third Level on Work Related Learning in industry and other relevant work places. The University stresses entrepreneurial skills so that graduates can either be formally or self employed. Work Related Learning is a contemporary approach to teaching and learning which requires a student to spend some time during the course of study on "hands on" practical experience in the relevant field.
Modes of Study at MSU
Full time undergraduate applicants are enrolled at the university either as conventional or parallel students. These applicants are normally admitted on the basis of their Advanced level passes. The period of study for this category of students is four to five years.
The Visiting School mode of study enrols students on the minimum academic qualification of "O" level subjects plus a relevant certificate or diploma qualification. The applicants for this programme should normally be in full time employment.
Visiting School students attend classes for a week per month. They complete their studies in three years. The University introduced this programme to enable applicants who are in employment to improve themselves professionally and to obtain degrees while they are on their jobs.
Bachelor of Education
The MSU Bachelor of Education programme enrols students into either the Full Time or Block Release mode of study. Full time students complete their studies in two years and Block Release student complete their studies in three years.
Bachelor of Education applicants are normally holders of either the Certificate or Diploma in Education. "A" level qualifications are an added advantage. B Ed Block Release students attend classes during school holidays.