What are the challenges of being a private institution?
In the South African context the academic credibility and integrity of private institutions stand central. Private institutions need to position themselves in the national context. This also includes their relation to industry, to demonstrate their relevance and their ability to make a meaningful impact on the regional and national development needs.
Do your students have a different approach or willingness to learn compared to those in other educational organisations?
Monash South Africa (MSA) currently has students from over 60 countries studying on campus. This rich cultural diversity creates a creative and conducive atmosphere where students experience healthy interaction and learning opportunities. It is a motivational environment, and we see positive student performance and participation in the learning process.
You are known for producing students with incredible leadership skills. What is your secret in this regard and what is your belief about what it takes to mould young leaders?
Each of our students are given the scope to develop their own potential, based on our teaching and learning approach of smaller groups with a special focus on creating social learning opportunities. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in specific extra-curricular activities such as our wide range of student volunteer initiatives, to become involved in or champion campus clubs and societies, as well as events and opportunities available through our global network.
All of these allow our students to take active leadership roles that develop and cultivate their talents and leadership potential. Exposure to industry also enables our students to focus on developing the appropriate skills while seizing every available chance for learning.
Has Monash South Africa suffered any damage or delays as a result of the recent student uprisings?
MSA did not have any delays or disruptions that influenced our normal academic programme.
How have you been able to provide support to students at risk?
MSA has a specially designed programme, which tracks student participation and performance, enabling lecturers to provide proactive support to students at risk. Special focus is given to identify high risk programmes and modules to ensure that continuous interventions provide additional support to students. This is done over and above the normal tutorial and individual support provided to all students.
How important is giving back to the community at grassroots level, and what are some of the ways that you do this?
Community engagement is an integral part of the mission and strategy of MSA. Our campus has an active student volunteer programme, with continuous projects involving various sectors in the community. MSA students are passionate and proactive, with one out of three students volunteering in these student-led social change initiatives.
By integrating an active service learning approach into the learning process, students contribute to society while they improve the depth of their understanding of theoretical concepts and the real challenges in their context.
In what ways is your institution different to government universities?
MSA meets all the statutory requirements and ensures that all its programmes compare in all respects to the leading academic programmes locally and internationally. Being part of the Laureate International Universities global network of more than 80 universities provides our students with real international opportunities as well as exposure to global and local practice and content.
What is your competitive advantage as a higher education institution?
MSA’s competitive advantages include the proven quality of our academic programmes, our international relations and the multiple opportunities for students in this network, the flexibility of our delivery processes, accessibility due to our size and facilities available and our focus on the relevance of programmes to ensure that students are prepared to compete effectively in the labour market as life-long learners. The current success rate and retention of students confirms the quality of our learning processes.
What do you see as the major challenges for education in SA, and what are the strengths of what we can offer local and international students?
The major challenge for higher education in the country is to maintain its academic quality and to continue to develop its capacity to contribute to the development process of South Africa and the continent. Linked to this is the ability to extend its capacity to enhance access to increase the participation rate in higher education. Higher education should be critical of its mission to ensure that it continues to strengthen its engagement with industry and society at large as active partners, to ensure its relevance. This will depend largely on the ability of the sector to continue to prepare and recruit appropriately qualified academics.
The strengths of South Africa higher education are the fact that there is a well-developed infrastructure with recognised institutions delivering quality education. The diversity of programmes and the quality of research output provide definite opportunities for students.