A new national collaborative project was launched in August 2018 as part of DHET’s UCDG intervention. The project, led by Dr Kasturi Behari-Leak (UCT) and supported by 10 steering committee members from national universities, is designed to offer capacity development opportunities to academic developers in relation to inducting new academics (NA) into their roles as teachers in higher education (HE). The first NATHEP engagement took place at the Birchwood Conference Centre in Johannesburg on 6 and 7 August. Two representatives from each of 10 universities participated in the two-day workshop.

Given the current national HE environment, it is perhaps more important now than it has ever been, to critically theorise how new teachers are prepared for the university classroom; how curricula, pedagogy and assessment are conceptualised and actualised at different institutional sites and what this means for increased levels of success for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

New Academics Transitioning into Higher Education Project (NATHEP) is launched

As a DHET UCDP collaborative project, it involves partnerships across 10 universities, cognitive of demographic and institutional representivity and inclusion. Participants are from the following universities: Sefako Makgatho, UNIVEN, UNIZUL, Fort Hare, University of Limpopo, MUT, Sol Plaatje, Walter Sisulu, TUT and VUT. Given the unequally resourced HE landscape and understanding that there is a wide range of existing induction practices at several universities, this project seeks to engage AD practitioners, responsible for academic induction, in a series of engagements over three years to develop specific approaches to the needs of new academics.

The overarching aim of the project is to develop a relevant and well theorised national approach and a national orientation to induction practices, without compromising the specificities of contextual constraints that many HEI’s face. Through a collaborative, consultative and inclusive process, professional developers will be supported to initiate and convene successful induction programmes at their institutions, to address historical and systemic challenges, as well as to create conditions for a new cadre of academics who can respond to the pressing challenges of the current institutional and national contexts.

The second workshop for 2018 is planned for October in Durban where further progress will be made on key deliverables. Based on the success of the first engagement, and given the support received from DHET and the participating institutions, NATHEP is well poised to provide a valuable contribution to the national HE agenda.

Dr Kasturi Behari-Leak