Midlands State University

THE IDEA of a university in Zimbabwe’s Midlands province originated when decisions were being made about developing a second higher education institution – the National University of Science and Technology. The Midlands city of Gweru put in a powerful bid, but lost out to Bulawayo. 104 Ultimately, through Zimbabwe’s policy of higher education devolution that dominated the 1990s, Gweru got the country’s third national university, which was called the Midlands State University.

A new campus was built 15 km out of town. Academically, though, the new institution was based on the old Gweru Teachers’ College that had been affiliated to the Harare-based University of Zimbabwe. Indeed, for the first few years, the mother institution dictated the programmes being offered by the Midlands State University. At first, as new faculties were established, the fledgling university began to offer Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science degrees with major educational components. Today, the Midlands State University offers academic programmes through seven faculties: Arts; Commerce; Education; Law; Natural Resource Management and Agriculture; Science and Technology; and Social Sciences. Plans for a further three faculties by 2015 are in the pipeline.

Perhaps because of the worsening economic climate into which the university was born (the establishment date is 2000), the financial arrangements look very different from many SADC universities that are almost wholly dependent on the state. The Midlands State University relies on the state for only half of its operating costs, while 32 percent comes from student fees, 10 percent from investment income, and eight percent from ‘sundry income’.

The university nevertheless faces serious constraints: unfavourable student/lecturer and student/computer ratios, a serious lack of foreign currency to purchase teaching and learning resources, and the juniorisation of academic staff due to the current brain drain. It is estimated that 500 000 Zimbabwean professionals are now living and working outside the country.

Facts and Figures at a Glance1

All students at Midlands State University (10,387) are contact students (10,387), of whom 5,498 are full-time students and 4,889 part-time students. The majority (10,353) are national citizens, and the remainder (34) are students from the SADC Region. There are no international students outside of the SADC countries (Actual data, 2007).

Table 1: Midlands State University - Summary of Enrolment Numbers (Actual data, 2007)


Number of students enrolled per level of study

Major Field of Study

Total Number of Students (Headcount)

Under- graduate degree/ diploma Post-graduate degree/ diploma Masters Degree Doctoral Degree Other qualifications (short courses, certificates etc.)
Science, Engineering & Technology 2,062 2,002 0 45 1 14
Business, Management & Law 3,688 3,481 0 205 2  0
Humanities and Social Sciences 4,637 4,188 48 383 6  12
TOTALS 10,387 9,671 48 633 9 26

Source:  Midlands State University questionnaire response

Table 2: Midlands State University: Academic and Research staff (Actual data, 2007)

Major Field Of Study

Total Number (headcount)

Science, Engineering & Technology 107
Business, Management & Law 80
Humanities and Social Sciences 139

Source: Midlands State University questionnaire response

[1] All data presented in this section is headcount data.