Long-standing AD ‘warrior’ Professor Ian Scott will be honoured for his work on policy through the award of the degree of Doctor of Laws (LLB) honoris causa at a graduation ceremony at Rhodes University on 11th April this year.
Ian Scott is known to many HELTASA members because of his work on Extended Programmes with an integrated foundation phase, stretching over many years. Extended Programmes were widely introduced in 2004 thanks to the introduction of a ‘Foundation Programme Grant’ by the DHET. Ian was key to the development and ongoing revision of the policy on Extended Programmes and, most importantly, to finally getting secure funding for this key area of work through HEMIS.
Ian’s policy work has given hundreds of thousands of young people an opportunity to gain a qualification in higher education that otherwise would have been denied to them. All of us working with Extended Programmes can identify students who have not only graduated and gone on to pursue successful careers, but who have gone on to pursue postgraduate work, even at doctoral level.
It is not only for his work with Extended Programmes that Professor Scott is being recognized, however. In 2007, with colleagues Nan Yeld and Jane Hendry, he produced a study of the cohort of students entering South African universities in 2000. The pattern of black South African students consistently faring less well in our system than their white peers regardless of the university at which they are registered, the level of the programme for which they are enrolled or the area of their studies first identified as a result of his work persists to this day.
As a result of this study, Ian and his colleagues were able to produce a Case for Improving University Teaching, not through staff development alone, but rather though a systemic restructuring of the curriculum. Although staff development is key, there is only so much individual academic teachers can do given constraining institutional conditions. The proposal to extend the ‘regulation time’ taken to complete an undergraduate programme from three to four years, allowed for the insertion of additional tuition in the form of fully foundational, extended and augmenting courses, widely used in Extended Programmes.
Sadly, the CHE’s recommendation for introduction of what came to be termed the ‘flexible curriculum’ was not accepted by the DHET. However, it is possible to use the University Capacity Development Grant to do exactly this – to develop course types that provide additional, formally-curriculated tuition intended to promote the development of students.
The award of an honorary doctorate to Ian Scott, not only recognizes his extraordinary persistence and sheer determination to ‘make a difference’ to the chances of the students in our universities but, as a secondary effect, also affirms the work of so many HELTASA members. The honorary doctorate recognizes Ian Scott’s exceptional contribution but, equally importantly, it recognizes fellow colleagues in the field of AD more generally.