The Deputy minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Dr Godfrey Gandawa had no kind words for universities on Friday afternoon saying institutions of higher learning were failing to understand the demands of the government's economic blue print - the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset).
Speaking at the official opening of the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) Masvingo Regional Center where he was guest of honour, Dr Gandawa said he was more interested in few graduates who can address the problems of tomorrow than thousands who are being churned out by universities today who are stuck in the past.
He said universities should be leading in researches that inform government policy.
"I am tired of people who want to sound as if they understand ZimAsset as they often refer to it at any single gathering and yet they are far from comprehending that document. ZimAsset is not cheap talk...our people don't understand ZimAsset.
"I am not impressed by the way universities are being run today. They (universities) are worried about numbers hence they train thousands to address problems of the past. Universities are dishing out PhDs that are not helping the nation," said Dr Gandawa.
"I want PhD holders who provide solutions to the country. I want degrees that create industries for their graduates," he added.
Dr Gandawa said academics should not shy away from policy formulation.
"Research on areas that propel ZimAsset and produce. Stop approving studies that concentrate on past and present problems. Universities are glued in their past - and that will never help in transforming the economy," added Gandawa.
Dr Gandawa also took the opportunity to urge the Zimbabwe Council of Higher Education (Zimche) to avoid bureaucracy in dealing with matters that call for urgent attention.
However, Dr Gandawa thanked ZOU for showing dedication to educating the nation but he was quick to say the institution has not yet exhausted all its potential.
"We expect ZOU to be a university of Africa. Just like UNISA, we want ZOU to build its own home and get recognized throughout the continent," said Dr Gandawa.