Ekurhuleni – Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina is convinced that the City of Ekurhuleni should get its own university.He said the starting point to building a university was to ensure that a statute was proclaimed by the national government to see to it that a university was built.Speaking at a university symposium held in Benoni, east of Johannesburg, on Thursday, Masina said practical steps had been taken to ensure that the project was followed through with since the initial pronouncement at the State of the City Address in March.Masina said they had considered the feasibility and budget of the project since Ekurhuleni contributes 23.1% to the economy of Gauteng and 8.1% to the national economy. Ekurhuleni is one of the only two metros in the country without a university. Masina said they had engaged with various stakeholders, including the private sector and government, to develop skills and training in the area. Although a formal name had not been agreed upon yet, an interim name of Ekurhuleni Applied Sciences and Technology University (East-U) was being used.The curriculum design would focus on engineering, agriculture, logistics, aviation and aerospace studies, as well as design.The proposed project would have an estimated cost of between R5bn and R6bn, which was the national average based on the universities currently being built in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape, Masina said. "To fulfill the aspirations of the fourth industrial revolution, the issue of a science and technology university in our space is necessary because we are a manufacturing hub, not just of the country, but of the continent, so it’s important that we continuously develop skills and expertise in our cities in order to drive industrialisation and development," said Masina.Universities influence social policyGermiston, Boksburg and Kempton Park are proposed for the project as they are near the airport, highways and freight facilities."One of the developers in the city has made land available at no cost to the city," Masina said. They had not quantified the number of jobs that would be created in the building of the university, but several opportunities would be created, he said. Economic growth would be accelerated by the employment of cleaning staff, the building of accommodation, hiring of academic staff and security.Deputy Minister in the Presidency Buti Manamela stressed the role of universities within society, saying that they influenced social policy and that their academics served as public intellectuals. Universities should empower students and help them generate income, instead of leaving them unemployed, he said."The higher the level of education of one, the lower the chances of one falling into poverty," said Manamela.Government transferred billions to community colleges, universities and TVETs, as well as NSFAS, Manamela said, emphasising that this showed government's commitment to education.He said there was a need to develop existing institutions to improve skills growth, particularly in the areas of science and technology, for South Africa to start exporting technology.Executive chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) Sifiso Mtsweni called for work experience to be scrapped for entry level jobs, and for university fees and entrance requirements to be centralised.