What does the Post-Pandemic Future of Higher Education look like in South Africa?
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Before the novel coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease, started to spread around the world, South African universities had already recognised the need to change their way of imparting education to prepare students for a digitally mediated world. The pandemic caused universities to implement those changes faster than expected.
What Long-Lasting Changes has the Pandemic brought to South Africa’s Higher Education System?
The vice-chancellors from three South African Universities were asked to share their thoughts and insights about what these changes could mean for the higher education system and how those changes might affect the way universities deliver teaching and research.
The University of Cape Town’s vice-chancellor claimed that teaching methods will go between face-to-face and fully online learning. It is not a decision that came all of a sudden. It was certainly brought forward faster because of the current situation, but the University of Cape Town had already recognised the need to prepare students for a digital world long before COVID-19. A clear example of this forward thinking was that at the beginning of this year, about 60% of lecturers had already decided to record their lectures.
Because of the fact that some higher education institutions lacked resources to implement digital technologies or online education, or that students lacked access, they were pushing it off before the pandemic.
Like the other two universities previously mentioned, Wits University also claims that a shift to blended learning is inevitable. According to evidence, students are performing better in the online environment than face-to-face.
Do Universities have the Human and Financial Resources to answer these changes on a long-lasting basis?
University of Cape Town
New ways of teaching means new kinds of benefits as well. They will release human capacity by allowing lecturers to manage their course loads more effectively. It will be possible for more students to enroll, which means they could bring more income to the institution to help finance human capacity or infrastructure developments.
Most universities have not been adequately funded for decades, which means they don't have the human and financial resources to respond to these changes.
Many professors and academics were able to adapt pretty quickly to the new online mode of teaching. This won't be the real issue. What will actually be a burden is how to finance higher education.