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UCT offers first mid-year intake of students through GetSmarter

The University of Cape Town, through its "Across Africa" partnership with GetSmarter, today announced the launch of a mid-year intake of students for its Advanced Diploma in Business Project Management, starting June 2015...

This is in response to applicant numbers far exceeding targets. Since the launch of the diploma in February, the course has attracted more than 1,500 applications, leading to 460 enrolments already.

Across Africa MD, Jacques Rousseau observed: "A key virtue of online education is its flexibility - you can study when and where you like, so long as you complete tasks on time. With a mid-year intake for the Advanced Diploma, we increase that flexibility further. Some working professionals might find that their workflow suits a February start, but for others, that might be the busiest time of their year. They would now be able to start the course in June instead."

Online education is clearly filling a gap in professional education.

According to GetSmarter Chief Marketing Officer, Ryan O'Mahoney: "15% of South Africa's school leavers were accommodated at tertiary education institutions last year, which means that a total of 2,781,785 South Africans aged between 18 and 24 are not currently enrolled in tertiary education. Furthermore, only 1,7% of our population completes a university education."

Besides infrastructural constraints, geographical challenges also block access for students who live far from UCT. Now, with postgraduate programmes being offered online, students can access quality, top-tier education from Africa's leading university.

Access to postgraduate programmes is also often hampered by prospective students not having completed Bachelors degrees. However, Across Africa offers a solution to this in the form of an online Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) course. This involves a two-week assessment of readiness for postgraduate study, and is offered at low cost to students who do not have a prior tertiary qualification. The RPL assessment ensures that students are equipped with the skills needed to successfully cope and keep up with Postgraduate studies. The knowledge tested by the RPL would typically already be in place thanks to years of work experience, and the RPL assessment is completed by students who are ready to put an official stamp on this work experience and expertise through the issuing of a diploma from an internationally recognised university.

More than 400 students are currently enrolled on UCT's first online Postgraduate qualifications. Although the qualifications are presented online, via GetSmarter's Virtual Learning Environment, postgraduate students still have access to all of UCT's incredible resources such as the computer labs and online libraries. While Virtual Learning might be unfamiliar to some prospective students, those who started these qualifications in February are greatly enjoying the experience.

The flexibility that online learning brings resonates strongly with today's working professional, as it allows them to maintain a work - life balance while advancing their careers and taking the plunge into continued learning. The overwhelming public response to these online Diplomas demonstrates the need for an flexible delivery mode of career-advancing education, and UCT and GetSmarter are working hard to offer this to as many potential students as possible.

Current estimates suggest that the amount of knowledge in the world is doubling every 13 months. According to IBM, the ongoing trend towards "the internet of things" will quickly lead to a world in which our collective human knowledge doubles every 12 hours. This, combined with the rapid adoption of technology in every sector of the economy, means that working professionals need to constantly adapt and learn new skills if they want to stay relevant and continue to add value in their careers.

"It's encouraging to see so many universities responding to this opportunity and actively exploring the provision of online and distance education programmes. I probably receive one call a week from a new institution looking for advice on how to start offering online programs. I think this is hugely positive, and a great indication of the growth we can expect in the online education market over the next 10 years in South Africa," says Rob Paddock, Chief Academic Officer at GetSmarter.

Sam Paddock, CEO of GetSmarter has a big vision for the future of online learning in South Africa: "Today's fast-paced, ever-changing workplace is hyper competitive. For previous generations of workers, university programmes would set them up for a successful life-long career. Today's knowledge workers have no such luxury. The challenge - or opportunity - for today's working professional is to learn, unlearn and relearn throughout their working lives to advance their careers and create a better life for themselves and their families. But how is this possible in today's chaotic workplace that demands more than just 9-5 each day? Online education, with its flexible delivery model and personalised support, gives every working professional the opportunity to enhance their skills and advance their careers.

"It's hardly surprising that South Africans have a love for learning. We are recognised world-wide for our work ethic. We also care deeply about our careers. And we know that learning is the key to improving our lives through career advancement," he said.

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