SA Higher education partnerships promising

UNISABy Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

In December of last tear, the College of Cape Town, along with Northlink College and Boland College, signed a collaborative Memorandum of Agreements (MoA’s) with the University of South Africa (Unisa).

This was to confirm the dedication of these institutions to respond to the call from the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande for closer collaboration between public Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges and Higher Education (HE) Institutions.

In an address on the HE landscape last year, Nzimande  said:  “It is imperative that we expand our FET Colleges to offer courses in partnership with our Higher Education institutions, so that young people have different and a variety of options when it comes to education.

Articulation within and between the three learning path ways (academic, vocational and occupational) is essential in order to, not only advance the objectives of the National Qualifications Framework, but also to ensure that our youth are not subjected to dead-end qualifications”.

Nzimande continued by emphasising the need for universities to work alongside FET Colleges to improve their functionality, and called on institutions “to work with and not against each other”.

Interestingly, this collaboration is however not new, but dates back to the days of the Technikon RSA when Boland College, College of Cape Town and Northlink College first established a very productive relationship with Unisa.

All six public FET Colleges in the Western Cape have been working closely with Higher Education Institutions over the past decade to address the challenges experienced with articulation and recognition of qualifications.

Furthermore, the MoA’s demonstrate the intentions of all parties involved to work together in a spirit of collaboration and cooperation, thereby creating opportunities for students who might otherwise not have had the opportunity to pursue studies towards an HE qualification.

It is anticipated that both Boland and Northlink College will re-kindle and re-establish the past programme offerings, thereby creating new opportunities for existing and future college students.

For the College of Cape Town the event marked the tenth anniversary of the relationship between the College and Unisa in offering the B.Ed Degree in Foundation Phase.

Also important to note is that, the College of Cape Town signed the first MoA with Unisa in 2002, making it the first FET College in the country to offer a fully-fledged degree programme in collaboration with an HE institution.

The first classes started in February 2003 with seven students, with six of these students graduating through Unisa in 2007.  The B.Ed Foundation Phase Degree programme has established itself to be an integral part of the academic programme to the extent where in excess of 146 students have registered to study this programme by means of part-time classes, two Saturdays per month, in 2013.

The College of Cape Town says it is encouraged by the B.Ed programme and trusts that the programme will continue to grow, together with the sustained growth and strengthening of the relationship between itself and Unisa, HE further notes.