Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Changes for Zimbabwe

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Changes for Zimbabwe

Article excerpt

SWANNELL

PETER SWANNELL

I VISITED Zimbabwe in June 1997.

I had been USQ's Vice Chancellor since September 1996. We had a group of quality students in Harare and surrounding areas. A visit to them and their local agents seemed like a valuable thing to do.

I combined the visit with a side trip to Johannesburg where USQ also had students. It was, overall, an extremely instructive trip.

Those were the days before Zimbabwe went broke; President Mugabe appeared, then, to be peacefully leading the country.

The general atmosphere was civilised and orderly. We had excellent agents representing us and providing excellent services to our undergraduates.

My overwhelming impression of Harare was that it was like Toowoomba, lifestyle-wise and in terms of student opportunity.

I felt safe throughout my visit and my wife, who accompanied me, and I were extremely well looked after and made to feel very welcome.

I think the local scene began to change (for the worse) not long after our visit. I am not sure why that should have been and I don't feel comfortable in trying to offer a commentary.

Maybe we didn't read the signs but we certainly came away from Zimbabwe very confident of the future value of the market for USQ.

That just shows how hazardous international education can be. Things can change very quickly, and for many different reasons, some outside the control of the University.

However, yes, Harare in June 1997 was a decent place to deal with and I am very sad to see the way things have declined.

Zimbabwe people are obviously delighted to see the demise of Mugabe and I can only think of the many good, peaceful people who helped us out in those exciting, productive years.

Johannesburg was a different proposition. We arrived, with our hosts, at their very pleasant house in a very pleasant, prosperous suburb. …

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