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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The increase in poor study conditions and service delivery at many universities

In the last two weeks since my last posting, I have been doing research regarding study conditions and service delivery at various institutions of higher learning. The reason for this being I got to thinking about all the extra hurdles students have to face outside of their academic challenges.

Let me just start by stating that I in no way wish to name and shame any academic institution in South Africa, or Internationally by writing this post and I am in no way referring to any specific institution. I am just merely stating information I have gathered during my research into the topic.

I took the time to speak face to face and on-line with various students both locally and internationally and found an amazing trend of similar issues regarding study conditions and service delivery. Some of these issues include:

1. Class sizes that are too large for the lecturers to give any individual student much needed one on one personal guidance, support and attention. Why this still happens is beyond me. In education studies we learn that classroom sizes are to be kept small enough so that each student/learner can receive individual attention, yet in practice this never happens.

2. Lack of modernisation in traditional universities as well as on-line universities. Many universities are still found to be stuck on old, outdated "traditional" methods of tuition as opposed to new methods that are proven to work. A good example of this is the fact that most universities still make use of traditional written examinations which don't really test the students abilities or knowledge. A more modern approach (that is proven to work) would be practical experience and testing methods. Many students get left behind with traditional instruction and testing methods since these methods do not cater for various learning styles. I will never forget one particular student when I was studying. He was absolutely brilliant and understood all our subject matter so well that he landed up explaining most of it to us. Yet come exam time he almost failed. Why? He could not write very fast and could only do about half the written exams in the time given (two hours). This was something I found to be challenging as well, since I too cannot write very fast (unless I want my written work to come out as one big illegible mess). Why on earth universities do not let their students type out their examinations is beyond me, or better yet, why aren't all written examinations replaced by portfolio type assignments?

3. Lack of contact, support and service from on-line learning institutions. Many students complained about how they receive almost no feedback of any sort regarding any questions or issues they may have, how lecturers are mostly unreachable via telephone or e-mail, how on-line systems are "down" most of the time and how study materials were poorly structured.

Do any of you out there face any similar issues? Or can you add anything new to the list? It will be very interesting hearing about some of the challenges you all face regarding study conditions and service delivery at the university or learning institution you study at, or even issues you faced in the past when studying. Please just bear in mind that we are not here to name or shame any institutions so please do not refer to your institution of study by name.

So start commenting and let the discussion begin.

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