The official media announcement of UCT's revolutionary strategy for broadening access to top-tier education throughout the continent was met with strong support and positivity among key stakeholders, journalists, and industry thought leaders alike.
Speaking at the media launch in his capacity as Managing Director of the Across Africa initiative, revered academic and industry thought leader Jacques Rousseau shares UCT and GetSmarter's vision for the future: "In an African and South African context, there is an opportunity for this form of distance learning to transform education."
Watch a round-up of highlights from the media conference below:
Owing to constraints on capacity and infrastructure, only 15% of South Africa's university applicants were accommodated on campuses across the country this year.
"The provision of online education now allows universities such as UCT to expand access to high quality education - beyond campus borders - in an attempt to lessen these figures," explains Professor Don Ross, Professor Dean of UCT's Commerce Faculty and key player in the University's exciting new online education initiative, Across Africa.
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We are here at this media launch as the official launch of the two new Postgraduate Diplomas that the University of Cape Town's Commerce faculty and GetSmarter are launching under the initiative of the Across Africa project.
We were talking about it in the car and we were thinking that this is probably one of the greatest changes that UCT has undergone in terms of the delivery of education and, so to be pioneering this is incredibly exciting for us.
The University has this afropolitan vision which you might have heard of and this is a component of that strategy in a sense. We're taking a tried and trusted brand of an academic nature, and partnering with a partner who has serious technological chops and can help us to convert that into a model that can give people access to education they might not previously have had.
Here in South Africa we have a huge number of young people who don't have qualifications that allow them to add value to a 21st century economy, so it's no surprise that they're unemployed. Therefore we are going to do something about that, and that is the most fundamental contributor to poverty and inequality in South Africa. The solution has got to run through increased access to tertiary education, it simply has to.
Through our private sector partner, GetSmarter, we think that this enterprise comes with the best quality online delivery platform in the world. And we're committed to keeping it best in the world.
It's our purpose at GetSmarter to improve lives through better education and this year alone we will be educating just over 7,000 students on semester-long programs with the University of Cape Town. That gives you a sense for the demand for programs from the working professionals throughout South Africa alone.
For the last seven years, GetSmarter and the University of Cape Town have been partnering to offer these online courses already. They've taken the form of short, non-credit bearing short courses delivered fully online to working professionals throughout South Africa and throughout the rest of Africa. And particularly as we move boldly into this next phase of offering postgraduate learners the same type of blended learning, we've sharpened the sword! We have a tried and tested methodology that we know will stand our postgraduate learners in good stead.
The real testament that we feel to this high-touch learning model is the existing ninety-four percent completion rates that exist on the online short courses that are already being offered by GetSmarter and the University of Cape Town in our Across Africa initiative, and we're confident that we can extend this into our postgraduate offering.
Looking forward to this Across Africa initiative, we feel incredibly privileged to be part of, for the first time, making degree-granting programs available to a far broader audience than was previously possible with an exceptionally high quality of learning model. Though our initial focus is heavily on South Africa, the goal is to serve the whole continent, and for us in the Commerce faculty, it represents our absolutely highest strategic priority going forward.