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College of Humanities hosts successful Integrated Student Support Workshop

20 May, 2015

At the workshop are (from left) Ms Angeline Stephens; College Dean for Teaching & Learning Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa; Professor Diane Grayson and Mr Kishore Gobardan.
At the workshop are (from left) Ms Angeline Stephens; College Dean for Teaching & Learning Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa; Professor Diane Grayson and Mr Kishore Gobardan.
The College of Humanities recently hosted its first Integrated Student Support Workshop at the Unite Building in an effort to ensure its students are given the best possible support in all facets of the College structure.

The workshop series has been funded by a Teaching and Learning Innovations and Quality Enhancement Grant received by Student Support Services Manager, Ms Angeline Stephens.

 The project is closely based on a collaborative model of student support proposed by Professor Diane Grayson, Director of Institutional Audits at the Council on Higher Education (CHE), who imparted her thinking and use of the proposed model at the workshop.

Project Leader Stephens said the overall aim of the project was to develop a student support programme that integrated the functions of all offices within the academic, administrative and support sectors in the College in order to provide efficient and effective support to students at strategic points in the student ‘life-cycle’, thus contributing to student success and throughput. 

Project Leader Mr Kishore Gobardan said the project was one of several initiatives by the College to aid in effective student support. ‘This is one of the ways to improve how things work within the College through the collective engagement of staff and students.’ The project includes consultative workshops with staff, focus groups with students and the completion of an online student survey.

Grayson said due to a massification of higher education and a diverse student body, the provision of support to students was paramount. ‘Once a University admits a student, it has a moral obligation to do everything within its power to create an environment within which the student has a good chance of succeeding.’ She emphasised the importance of career counselling and the quality of support provided in the first year of study.

She highlighted that the learning environment could make a significant contribution to students’ learning experiences through the provision of suitable teaching and learning spaces and a variety of resources.

 ‘There should also be continual monitoring to improve student progression and constant career guidance and upon graduation, links to employers, work experience programmes and postgraduate support.’

Sharing her tips and suggestions on how best to improve student support, Grayson added that once students who were not coping with their studies had been identified by an early warning and referral system, they should be given the necessary support through the various avenues.

Grayson believes long-term, large-scale student success will require sustained will, effort, commitment, courage and imagination, monitored and coordinated within coherent, collaborative endeavours at both institutional and national levels.

The project leaders are confident that the project will allow for the provision of targeted, needs-based and evidence-based academic, administrative and psycho-social services as part of an integrated and collaborative student support programme.

Words and pictures by Melissa Mungroo

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