Bantubonke Louw is a strong advocate for educational transformation and is always exploring ways to help improve the education system. This is something he is well placed to do in his roles as programme manager for semester mobility at Stellenbosch University (SU) International as well as assistant residence head at Academia.
As we kicked off May commemorating Workers' Day, we dedicate this series of articles to our staff and their important contribution to the University. In this last instalment, we bring you our interview with Bantubonke, who joined SU in 2015.
What does your role at SU entail?
I am the programme manager for semester mobility at SU International. My team and I oversee and facilitate inward and outward non-degree semester students and Study Abroad opportunities. In a secondary capacity, I am also assistant residence head at Academia, where my focus is on residential education, student wellness and student success.
What does a typical day at work look like?
A typical day starts with a strong cup of coffee – I normally operate at full throttle after the second cup. I then check in with my team to get a sense of what's on their tables and where they need assistance. Since the Study Abroad lifecycle is timeline-specific, I regularly check in with the team to ensure that we meet our deadlines.
I normally also liaise with colleagues from partner institutions to coordinate inward/outward exchanges, negotiate financial benefits or fees to be paid to/by students, and manage partnerships in general. I also engage with SU lecturers to secure course admissions for exchange students, and I manage our Global Education Programme, including sourcing and contracting lecturers to teach the courses.
These things I do in between my daily consultations with exchange students. I usually get round to my emails before and after consultation hours, which are from 10:00 to 15:00 daily. And then my attention shifts to my residence head responsibilities, which usually run from 17:00 until about 02:00, depending on how quiet the students are!
How did your education or past experience prepare you for this job?
I've always worked in the education sector, from teaching at the secondary school level to lecturing and working in internationalisation and residential education. My training and studies have equipped me with good intrapersonal and interpersonal skills, enabling me to work with diverse people.
Being a staunch activist for educational transformation and decolonisation, I am always looking for ways in which we can improve the education system – whether through internationalisation of education, residential education or out-of-class experiences – and contribute to student success and wellness.
What do you enjoy most about your role and working at SU?
The joy on students' faces when we inform them that they've been selected to study abroad is really rewarding. To help make their dreams of studying and travelling abroad come true is a great motivation for me to continue working hard. Many students have never been on a plane before, let alone abroad.
Tell us something exciting about yourself that few people would expect?
I am a borderline workaholic. I am always on my phone, Outlook or MS Teams when I am not in the office.
Photographer: Stefan Els