Cape Town-140820-The Commerce Faculty of UCT and on line education company, GetSmarter, launched the accross Africa educational initiative and pave the way for widespread access to higher education in South Africa and Africa. In pic Rob Paddock, Chief Academic Officer of online education company, GetSmarter, takes us through the sought-after UCT Project Management Foundations online short course on GetSmarter's Virtual Learning Environment.-Reporter-Ilse-Photographer-Tracey Adams

Cape Town - A new initiative is expected to give more students across Africa access to UCT’s postgraduate programmes without having to set foot on campus.

The Across Africa initiative was launched by UCT’s commerce faculty and online education company GetSmarter this week and the first two part-time online postgraduate programmes are scheduled to start in February.

GetSmarter joint chief executive Rob Paddock said universities could only provide for limited numbers of students on their physical campuses and the obvious solution was taking programmes online.

UCT, which was limited to a face-to-face intake of 26 330 students this year, was granted the right to offer distance learning qualifications last year.

The programmes would be offered in blended learning mode, which combines the use of an interactive online education platform with “face-to-face learning”.

Paddock said a course instructor, who would be an industry expert and the academic leader of the programme, would be available to students during working hours while further support would be provided by course coaches who would also be able to identify students who were falling behind.

Students would also have access to a technical support team.

“Essentially we map out a series of learning activities that need to take place in a week. For example, there will be a series of video lectures they have to watch, discussion forums they have to take part in and projects they need to complete.”

Across Africa managing director Jacques Rousseau, who tested the online education platform when teaching a class of 1 500, said students had benefited from the opportunity to work on their own schedules as well as receiving “peer and instructor support virtually on demand”.

The same admission policies and prices that apply to on-campus courses would apply to the online programmes, and Paddock said the quality of the programmes would also be on par.

Applications for the postgraduate diploma in management in marketing and the advanced diploma in business project management opened in June and are available to anyone who has completed an undergraduate degree.

[email protected]

Cape Argus