Producing quality graduates is the ultimate goal

Annette Willemse -- Thu, 11/27/2014 - 09:26

Producing quality graduates is the ultimate goal

The School of Basic Sciences of the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University (NWU Vaal) recently hosted a colloquium pertaining to the proposal submitted for Curriculum Reform within the South African higher education sector.

The colloquium was led by Dr Muki Moeng, Director of the NWU Institutional Academic Development and Support office.

Dr Moeng discussed the responses from the Council on Higher Education (CHE) on proposals submitted by North-West University regarding  the reformation of current curriculum structures in higher education. The proposal, as well as the discussion during the colloquium, centred on the improvement of higher education by looking at the different aspects that contribute to producing quality degrees and graduates. The proposal is seen as a solution for all higher education students; a need for mainstream curriculum change; and the increase for the duration of qualifications from 3 to 4 and 4 to 5 years – which is also a way to increase funding (subsidy).

Prof Erika Serfontein, subject chair for Law,
together with Dr Muki Moeng
Dr Muki Moeng leading a panel discussion
with Prof Susan Coetzee-van Rooy

The proposal in a nutshell

According to Dr Moeng, the proposal was submitted after evidence of poor graduate rates throughout South Africa, which show that only 35% of the total number of registered contact students, graduate within 5 years. The access, success and completion rates are racially skewed, as fewer than 5% of African and coloured students succeed in any form of higher education and about 43% of white students graduate in record time.

Dr Moeng says that higher education institutions should look at their curricula for a solution, as there is a need to substantially improve graduate production in terms of numbers, quality, attributes and equity of outcomes. Dr Moeng raised the possibility that extended degree programmes might be the answer.

According to Prof Heleen Janse van Vuuren, Director of the School of Accounting on the Vaal Triangle Campus, there has been an increase in the number of extended degree programmes on the Campus, and most of the students from the extended degree programmes later perform better in their honours classes due to the curriculum structure of these undergraduate programmes.

Envisage benefits and implications

The suggested revised curriculum structure will mean that lecturers will have more time available to teach subject content; that there will be a smooth progression in both the volume and difficulty levels; and finally, provide the opportunity to help students develop competencies that support their core learning activities.

Dr Moeng says that even if the changes are made to the higher education system and curriculum structure, those students who are able to complete their qualification within the traditional 3 or 4 years will be allowed to do so.