EXCITING NEW DIRECTION: New administrator to transform PE College into a First Choice institution


Former CEO of Northlink College in Cape Town, Leon Beech, who was recently appointed as Administrator of Port Elizabeth College by the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, has undertaken to transform his new college into a First Choice Institution for Study.

His appointment, effective from 13 May, is for a one year term and will continue for a second year should the need arise.

“An immediate intervention is to create the environment conducive for effective quality education and training. This will include placing the core function of the institution, that being teaching and learning, to the central focus of all activities,” said Beech who holds close to 32 years’ experience in the college sector.

A qualified artisan in Civil Engineering and Construction, Beech is widely credited for building Northlink College into the second biggest of the 50 public FET Colleges in South Africa over the past decade.  There were more than 20 000 enrolments during 2012 alone.

Although he is not naive to the numerous challenges that lay ahead, Beech is confident that there is will and support within the college to bring about change.

“Without going into the details with regards to why the Minister placed the institution under administration, I recognize the college’s superb infrastructure and competent staff and I am convinced that there is potential in making PE College a First Choice Institution in the Eastern Cape,” he said and added, “I am prepared and I welcome this challenge….”

Besides bringing back certain artisan development courses that had been phased out at the college, Beech said he also intends to focus on developing better relations with local industries in order to expose students to real-life vocational experiences which will assist successful graduates in finding employment opportunities.

“There is a need to strengthen the relationship between the FET Colleges in the Eastern Cape and to share ‘Good Practices’ with the intention of developing Centres of Excellence.

“I am very excited about our collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), which creates the opportunity of establishing an Energy Centre at the Struandale Campus, and has the potential to positively impact on communities surrounding the campus,” explained Beech.

He values the support given by the Department of Higher Education, specifically the financial support given to a large number of students to access teaching and learning.

Minister Nzimande will shortly appoint a new College Council, representing external and internal stakeholders, to oversee the transformation at the college.