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UCT broadens access, across Africa - thousands more opportunities for postgraduate diplomas

The University of Cape Town (UCT) has announced that it has launched a suite of online postgraduate diplomas, as part of a strategic initiative that will enable students across South Africa and the rest of the African continent to study with high-touch interactive support - anytime, anywhere.
UCT's Faculty of Commerce, in partnership with GetSmarter, is now offering two postgraduate diplomas online, in blended learning mode as part of the Across Africa initiative. Blended learning combines the use of a flexible and cutting-edge interactive online education platform with face-to-face learning.

Professor Don Ross, Dean of the Faculty of Commerce, explains, "With their fully interactive high-touch design, Commerce's Across Africa programmes encourage styles of learning and engagement that go well beyond what can be implemented in the traditional lecture hall. Rich, real-time student communication with lecturers, tutors and one another during all stages of learning is now possible."

Across Africa Managing Director, Jacques Rousseau added: "Having road-tested the Across Africa online education platform myself in teaching a class of 1,500 students, it is clear that students appreciate - and greatly benefit from - the opportunity to work on their own schedules, as well as to receive peer and instructor support virtually on demand."

The UCT Postgraduate Diploma in Management in Marketing and the UCT Advanced Diploma in Business Project Management will start in February 2015, with applications currently exceeding 145 and 111 respectively. The UCT Board Course will also be available via online format.

The launch of the programmes in blended learning mode, with additional popular programmes to follow, has the potential to exponentially increase access to education. Currently UCT is limited by its face-to-face intake, which this year stands at 27,000.

The Centre for Higher Education Transformation (CHET) lists South African public higher education key data indicating that there are over 2,7 million school leavers who are not in education, training or employment. The provision of online education in South Africa allows universities such as UCT to expand the access of high quality education beyond campus borders in an attempt to lessen these figures and to provide continuing education for graduates.

Working professionals are among the market who have typically been limited in their opportunities to pursue postgraduate studies. The online delivery mode of UCT's industry-aligned programmes offer learners the unique opportunity to retain full-time employment and advance a career in their chosen field, while formalising their skills with a top-tier tertiary qualification.

UCT have moved swiftly since the Government last year granted UCT the right to offer distance learning qualifications, partly thanks to this being a direction it has been preparing for since 2008 through the presentation of numerous short courses in partnership with online education company GetSmarter.

Sam Paddock, CEO of GetSmarter, said: "For the first time, working professionals who aren't able to study full-time are able to advance their careers by studying with Africa's leading university. We are proud to partner with UCT to improve people's lives by opening up access to the highest quality education."

Online distance learning (ODL) has long been changing the face of education around the world, with leading international universities in countries such as the United States of America making the move as early as two decades ago. A report by the US Department of Education found that "classes with online learning (whether taught completely online or blended) on average produce stronger student learning outcomes than do classes with solely face-to-face instruction."

UCT has chosen GetSmarter as its partner due to the company's full-service online education offering as well as its unique high-touch model, which results in significant student completion rates. In an African and South African context, there is an opportunity for this form of distance learning to transform education. The Across Africa partnership brings a practised and proven learning model and virtual learning environment (VLE) that promises to deliver better results than ever before achieved with traditional face-to-face learning.

In 2012, UCT ran two undergraduate courses, Evidence-Based Management and Strategic Thinking, as a part of the Bachelor of Business Science degree. Results were promising, with enthusiastic student participation and feedback as well as similar or improved quality of work produced by students. Crucially, results in the first year Evidence-Based Management course suggested that the VLE design is intuitive and accessible enough to mitigate against the so-called "digital divide", with students from disadvantaged school backgrounds performing as well or better than comparable cohorts in previous years.

Chief Academic Officer of GetSmarter, Rob Paddock, said: "UCT and GetSmarter's appoach to online education brings pedagogy, technology, and people together to provide a world-class learning experience. The model allows our learners to benefit from the latest advances in education technologies, whilst receiving personalised support from a course coach, a technical support team, and ongoing access to a course instructor, who is an expert in their respective industry.

"Learning activities are designed around real-world situations to foster relevant, concrete skills development, and project work is done in collaboration with other learners to encourage social learning and relationship building," said Rob Paddock.

Across Africa is a strategic partnership between UCT's Faculty of Commerce and GetSmarter, providing access to the highest quality blended mode business education. UCT's scope extends to all areas of sub-Saharan Africa, and all possible opportunities are being investigated for providing both UCT and its future students opportunities for growth.

Collaboration with local Universities Across Africa is crucial for ensuring academic relevance, as well as in providing the opportunity for UCT to contribute to the development of academic institutions on the continent.

Visit for more information on our online, blended learning postgraduate programmes.

GetSmarter's press office

GetSmarter is a premier online education company that partners with prestigious universities and leading organisations to offer continuing education short courses to working professionals throughout South Africa.