Expanding access in higher education

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Addressing areas of inequality within the higher education sector is no easy
task but the White Paper for Post-School Education and Training aims to do just
that through its focus on accessibility.

Mr Cassie Kruger, CEO of False Bay College (FBC), recently highlighted some of
the
priorities of the White Paper and touched on FBC?s own plans to creating greater
access.

He prefaced his talk by addressing skewed perceptions about the aims of
the White Paper and the post school system. The mandate, he said, is to cater
for those
who have completed school, those who have not completed school and those
who have never attended school.

With these categories in mind the Department of Higher Education and
Training seeks to create a system that will provide a range of opportunities for
young people to better their lives.

According to Kruger expanding access to education is one of the central
themes of the White Paper. There is a sense of "taking education and training to
the communities'.

The seriousness of this aim is reflected in the plan to develop community
colleges. This new kind of institution' is expected to cater to the learning needs
of both young people and adults.They will become general education and
training centres and will offer adult senior certificates. Described as a "new
animal', community colleges are still largely in the conceptual process and it is
yet to be seen what new challenges they will bring.

The implementation of a Central Application System also supports the
department?s efforts towards greater access. The idea is that students will no
longer apply directly to universities and colleges. Instead applications will be
processed through one centralised system. The aim is to monitor and minimise
discrimination at higher education institutions and provide equal access to
students from all backgrounds.

The White Paper has set out a target of enrolling 1 million students in FET
Colleges by 2015 and 2.5 million by 2030. In theory these numbers sound
promising but Kruger says the likelihood of achieving these targets is being
hampered by a lack of infrastructure.

In fact Kruger says infrastructure is one of the major impediments to
increased accessibility and expansion in the higher education sector.

To contribute to the goal of expanded access, False Bay College is
partnering with various Seta?s to establish a campus in the Swartklip area.
Kruger said the Department of Human Settlements is in the process of acquiring
the site. Once established the college is expected to accommodate 3000
students.

The site was purposefully chosen for its location between two segregated
communities, Mitchell?s Plain and Khayalitsha. One of the aims of this initiative is
not only to provide an opportunity for training but to unite students and break
down the barriers of separation that still exists.

Similar building projects such as the Sol Plaatje University and the University
of Mpumalanga have been initiated, with the hope that more young people
would have the opportunity to study further and build a brighter future.

For more information visit target="_new">False Bay College website

By Cindy Payle - Portal Publishing

What do you think?
Is accessibility one of the biggest problems in education? Or are there other
priorities that should be addressed?

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