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Programme renewal initiative addresses changing workplace needs
Author: Daniel Bugan
Published: 12/05/2020

​In an effort to keep pace with the changing needs in the workplace, Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences have announced that it will be offering two new programmes to students in 2021.

The programmes – a B degree in Data Science and a Postgraduate Diploma in Strategic Human Resource Management – are aligned with the programme renewal objectives of SU to maintain excellence and accessibility and to equip students to become leaders in their respective fields.

According to Prof Ronel du Preez, Vice-Dean (Learning and Teaching) responsible for the Faculty's programme renewal initiative, the new programmes aim to help students adapt to the changing world of work.

The programme renewal team also includes Magda Barnard, programme renewal coordinator, and Dr Gert Young from the Centre for Teaching and Learning.

The four-year B degree in Data Science (BDatSci) will offer students the opportunity to gain knowledge of foundational modules in core disciplines such as statistics, computer science and mathematics. They will also be exposed to new technologies and concepts in the field of data science.

“Work across nearly all domains is becoming more data driven, and this continued transformation of work requires a substantial cadre of talented graduates with highly developed data science skills and knowledge. This degree will provide graduates with skills to solve real-world problems in genetics, healthcare, e-commerce, finance, retail and government," said Du Preez.

The Postgraduate Diploma in Strategic Human Resource Management is the Faculty's first programme that was designed for a hybrid-learning environment. It will blend online instruction with contact instruction.

In addition, the Faculty will offer a renewed broad BCom (Management Sciences) degree from 2021. All the BCom focal areas will be moved to the BCom (Management Sciences) programme, which will also include new modules such as Statistics and Data Science, and Business Communication.

Decolonisation of the curriculum is considered an important part of programme renewal. According to Du Preez, “We follow an embedded decolonisation of the curriculum process – it takes place within module renewal processes, for example our Economics Department is putting decolonisation into effect by implementing the Curriculum Open-access Resources in Economics (CORE) curriculum."

While decolonisation of the curriculum is important, other dimensions of programme renewal are also deemed necessary. These include financial sustainability of the programme offering, coherency of programmes across modules and years of study, students' and lecturers' workload, the development of desired graduates' attributes, flexibility between contact sessions and self-learning and appropriate methods of assessment.

Du Preez said curriculum renewal and new programme development are lengthy processes that take up to three years before all the external accreditations are in place.

“Programme renewal will continue to take place. Lecturers are continually renewing their modules, so it's good to once in a while take a programme level overview – if you continually review your own module without looking at the potential impact on the programme, you are in dangerous territory," she said.

  • Photo by Anna Lusty