UWC helping employed students in ensuring access and flexibility
“We cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that many of our students are employed full-time and are studying at the same time”, these were the words of UWC Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Tyrone Pretorius, at an event held by UWC’s Division for Lifelong Learning (DLL) in partnership with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) at UWC on Tuesday, 28 July.
The Rector, who was once a switchboard operator at Newlands Hotel while studying at UWC, said he worked nightshift in order to pay his tuition fees. He said that this is the story of most UWC students; UWC is committed to providing access to the most disadvantaged.
“We need learning to be more flexible so that we can be able to accommodate everyone and ensure that access to higher education is easy. We need to do all we can and use technology, but we should not be seduced by technology. Our experience over 20 years with working students, reinforces the fact that it is mainly about appropriate pedagogy, ” said Professor Uta Lehmann of the School of Public Health.
CEO at SAQA, Joe Samuels, stressed the valuable research partnership between UWC and SAQA which emphasised flexible learning and teaching to give access to working people. He said, through the research project entitled Lifelong Learning and Professional Development in Residential Universities, “UWC has made a huge contribution to the implementation of the objectives of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and to the White Paper on Post-School Education and Training. This project addresses access and redress which are national imperatives; it is essential that learners are supported in their learning and learning pathways”.
He concluded by saying that this research project challenges SAQA to rethink their lifelong learning policies.
The DLL researchers, under the leadership of Professor Shirley Walters, in the research project addressed issues of how the University can respond meaningfully to the real circumstances of students in order to enhance their prospects of success and professional development.
Using an action research approach, the research aims to influence organisational change, to see how the University can develop appropriate pedagogical approaches, under new conditions, to help working students to succeed. Professor Walters said, “The binary model of delivery of day and night classes has broken down and we need a new paradigm to accommodate a diversity of students”.
The research speaks directly to imperatives of the White Paper on Post-School Education and Training.