Extended degree programmes – redefining the future for many students

Annette Willemse -- Thu, 11/20/2014 - 16:49

Extended degree programmes – redefining the future for many students

When the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Information Technology on the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University (NWU Vaal) introduced its extended degree programmes in 2010, the full potential of the intervention could not have been anticipated.

Four years later the number of students enrolled for the various extended degree programmes have grown from 129 to 822 and the demand keeps increasing. 

Extended degree programmes increase access and academic performance Prof Herman van der Merwe, Executive Dean

Currently a total of 9 extended degree curricula is offered within the Faculty, namely in: Chartered Accountancy; Economics and Risk Management; Financial Accountancy; Economics and International Trade; Marketing Management; Information Technology; Business Analytics; Financial Mathematics and Qualitative Risk Management.

According to Prof Herman van der Merwe, Executive Dean of the Faculty, the purpose of the extended degree programmes are twofold – firstly to address the problem of the decreasing pass rate for the National Certificate Exam and secondly to increase access to the so-called scarce field of study such as BCom and BSc IT.  “The extended degree programmes are designed in such a way that it broadens access by creating alternative routes for students who, due to disadvantaged educational backgrounds, have failed to meet the Faculty specific entry requirements whilst simultaneously  contribute towards the students’ eventual success by offering integrated and targeted support,” says Prof van der Merwe. The issue of pure mathematics and mathematical literacy also comes into play and through the extended degree programmes students with good results in mathematical literacy can venture into a career which otherwise would have been reserved for someone with pure mathematics.

Extended degree programmes are open to all students whose National Benchmark Test score(s) show that they have the potential to succeed, but who have not obtained the scores necessary for mainstream admission to university programmes within the fields of accounting, information technology or economics. “The degree obtained through the extended programmes is identical to the general BCom and BSc It, but students are encouraged to spread their courses over four rather than three years. During this time they are also given additional academic support through interventions such as mentorship programmes, foundation courses and additional tutorials and workshops. “The overall pass rate of the students within the extended degree programmes are very high and we take immense pride in the fact that we know that we have offered them an opportunity towards a better and brighter future,” says Prof van der Merwe and adds that this year also saw the first graduates of the extended degree programmes enrol for their honours degrees.

* It is important to note that each student is expected to reach the minimum requirements per programme, and must pass the National Senior Certificate Exams with a Bachelor’s Degree acceptance.