TOWARDS WIDENING ACCESS TO  UNDERREPRESENTED GROUPS IN THEBIOLOGICAL SCIENCES: A CASE STUDY OF A      SOUTH AFRICAN UNIVER...
Presentation outline Locating South Africa Historical background of HE Dawn of democracy Research context Research qu...
Map of South Africa                  Widening Participation and Discourses                  of Inclusion in Higher Educati...
Historical background of HE andaccess in SA Historically access to HE was preserved  for whites only; In 1916 - Native C...
Dawn of democracy - 1994   Release of Nelson Mandela from prison    heralded new hope and drastic changes in    education...
Case study Biological Sciences at the University of  Pretoria (UP); UP was established in 1908 for white  Afrikaners (ma...
Research questions   What are the possibilities and limitations    of widening access to underrepresented    groups in th...
Sub-questions How access policy to the Biological  Sciences is understood and implemented  at institutional and departmen...
Data collection Purposive sampling; Interviews with policymakers, first year  lecturers in Biological Sciences; Questio...
‘Getting in‟ and ‘Getting through’(Osborne & Gallacher 2004) Getting in       Getting through                             ...
Access policy   Government managed:    ◦ Diverse student demography;    ◦ Enrolment planning;    ◦ Minimum admission requ...
Findings       Widening Participation and Discourses       of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25       April 2012       ...
Race and gender distribution in onemodule in the Biological Sciences(2011)     Females %   Males  %    Total %Blacks   217...
Student recruitment Out /in-reach programmes; Partnerships between secondary  schools and university; Open days; Caree...
Studentsmedium of knowing about the unversity                                                 44.0%45%40%                 ...
Respondents livelihood /home area                                        Township, 15.5%     Urban, 65.3%                 ...
Black students lifelihood and location of school attended80%           76.2%70%                                           ...
Student readiness for HE Practical work sessions; Workload; Language; High failure rate in first year.                ...
Student readiness for HE ... Poor schooling system; Wrong career choice; Structural breaks – introduction of NSC  – flu...
Students’ perceptions of their level of preparedness for                          university studies           59.5%60.0% ...
Student Funding NSFAS (promulgated by former Pres.  Mandela in 1996); Policymakers – satisfied with the model; Students...
Student support   Academic    ◦ Tutors & mentors, extended      programmes, foundation year;    ◦ Shift in university man...
Student support received from the university        48.8%50.0%45.0%40.0%                        36.9%                35.2%...
Other emerging themes Admission process – Definition of  disadvantage; Orientation period – 2 weeks induction  to new st...
Concluding comments Data suggest that:a) The best way to improve widening  participation is through better  cooperation w...
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Towards widening access to underrepresented groups in the Biological Sciences: A case study of a South African University

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A conference paper presented at the Widening Participation Conference 2012 'Discourse of Inclusion in Higher Education' 24-25 April 2012, UK

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Towards widening access to underrepresented groups in the Biological Sciences: A case study of a South African University

  1. 1. TOWARDS WIDENING ACCESS TO UNDERREPRESENTED GROUPS IN THEBIOLOGICAL SCIENCES: A CASE STUDY OF A SOUTH AFRICAN UNIVERSITY Abbey Mathekga* & Chaya Herman UK 24 -25 April 2012Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education abbey@hesa-enrol.ac.za abbey200@gmail.com * Presenter
  2. 2. Presentation outline Locating South Africa Historical background of HE Dawn of democracy Research context Research questions Data collection and analysis Research findings Concluding comments Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 2
  3. 3. Map of South Africa Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 3
  4. 4. Historical background of HE andaccess in SA Historically access to HE was preserved for whites only; In 1916 - Native College at Fort Hare was established for Blacks; In 1946 Unisa was established – distance education; Extension of University Act of 1959 led to establishment of racially divided universities, i.e. Blacks, Coloureds & Indians; White universities: language divide Afrikaans/English. Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 4
  5. 5. Dawn of democracy - 1994 Release of Nelson Mandela from prison heralded new hope and drastic changes in education including HE; Former Pres Mandela is passionate about education and committed to equity, redress and social justice; Legislation and policy changes – HE Act of 1997 aimed at creating a single, national and integrated HE system; 36 universities and Technikons were merged into 23 universities: Traditional, Comprehensive and Universities of Technology. Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 5
  6. 6. Case study Biological Sciences at the University of Pretoria (UP); UP was established in 1908 for white Afrikaners (mainly Dutch descendents); In 1989 UP registered its first black student; In 2012 UP enrolled a total of about 40 000 students with more than 50% Blacks. Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 6
  7. 7. Research questions What are the possibilities and limitations of widening access to underrepresented groups in the Biological Sciences at the University of Pretoria? Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 7
  8. 8. Sub-questions How access policy to the Biological Sciences is understood and implemented at institutional and departmental levels? What are challenges that students from underrepresented groups are faced with regards to access into Biological Sciences at the University of Pretoria? How do students from underrepresented groups negotiate access with success within Biological Sciences at the University of Pretoria? Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 8
  9. 9. Data collection Purposive sampling; Interviews with policymakers, first year lecturers in Biological Sciences; Questionnaire to select focus groups of first year second semester students in Biological Sciences; Document analysis. Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 9
  10. 10. ‘Getting in‟ and ‘Getting through’(Osborne & Gallacher 2004) Getting in Getting through Getting on Student Orientation periodrecruitment World of Student support works Studentreadiness Epistemological access Admission Institutional cultureprocess Funding Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 10
  11. 11. Access policy Government managed: ◦ Diverse student demography; ◦ Enrolment planning; ◦ Minimum admission requirement - NSC; Institutionally managed – Admission criteria: ◦ Subject mix; ◦ Admission Point Score (APS); ◦ ‘Sociotechnic tools‟ (Goastellec and Discourses-of Widening Participation 2010) Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 NBT; 11
  12. 12. Findings Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 12
  13. 13. Race and gender distribution in onemodule in the Biological Sciences(2011) Females % Males % Total %Blacks 217 28.4 97 12.3 314 41.1Whites 272 35.6 178 23.3 450 58.9 489 64 275 36 764 Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 13
  14. 14. Student recruitment Out /in-reach programmes; Partnerships between secondary schools and university; Open days; Career days, etc. Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 14
  15. 15. Studentsmedium of knowing about the unversity 44.0%45%40% 37.3% 34.2%35%30% 24.9%25% 22.8% 20.2%20% 1st Year Blacks 16.7% % of total respondents 15.5%15%10% 8.3%5% 3.6% 1.00% 1.0%0% Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 15
  16. 16. Respondents livelihood /home area Township, 15.5% Urban, 65.3% Rural, 16.1% Not Provided, 3.1% Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 16
  17. 17. Black students lifelihood and location of school attended80% 76.2%70% 58.1%60% 53.1% 46.9%50% 41.9% 38.1% 36.9%40%30% 25.0% 23.8%20%10%0% Rural Township Urban Lifelihood % Local Schooling % Outside Schooling % N=84 Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 17
  18. 18. Student readiness for HE Practical work sessions; Workload; Language; High failure rate in first year. Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 18
  19. 19. Student readiness for HE ... Poor schooling system; Wrong career choice; Structural breaks – introduction of NSC – fluctuation and unreliability of grade 12 marks; NSC create expectations that could not be fulfilled. Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 19
  20. 20. Students’ perceptions of their level of preparedness for university studies 59.5%60.0% 56.0%50.0% 42.0%40.0% 28.6% 1st Year Blacks30.0%20.0% 11.9%10.0% 2.1%0.0% Not prepared Prepared Not Provided Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 20
  21. 21. Student Funding NSFAS (promulgated by former Pres. Mandela in 1996); Policymakers – satisfied with the model; Students access NSFAS funds once registered; Barrier to widening participation – lack of funds, e.g. administration & registration fees; NSFAS mainly caters for tuition fees - Widening Participation and Discourses insufficient funds. of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 21
  22. 22. Student support Academic ◦ Tutors & mentors, extended programmes, foundation year; ◦ Shift in university mandate: research & knowledge production; Psychosocial ◦ Counselling; ◦ Policymakers – less popular – stigma. Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 22
  23. 23. Student support received from the university 48.8%50.0%45.0%40.0% 36.9% 35.2%35.0% 31.6% 32.1%30.0% 1st Year Blacks 23.8% % of total number25.0% of respondents 21.4%20.0% 17.6%15.0%10.0%5.0%0.0% Academic Financial No support Psychosocial Widening Participation andDiscourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 23
  24. 24. Other emerging themes Admission process – Definition of disadvantage; Orientation period – 2 weeks induction to new students; Epistemological access – access to knowledge, language used as medium of instruction; Institutional culture: students’ experiences ◦ Do you „feel at home‟? “It was a cultural Widening Participation and Discourses shock for me”. of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 24
  25. 25. Concluding comments Data suggest that:a) The best way to improve widening participation is through better cooperation with schools;b) It is necessary to facilitate career guidance at school level;c) Majority of students come from urban area;d) Lack of preparedness at school level affect retention at university level. Widening Participation and Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education 24 -25 April 2012 25

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