Nelson Mandela University: Fostering student success in 2024

Dr Muki Moeng - Deputy Vice-Chancellor - Learning and Teaching - Nelson Mandela University
Dr Muki Moeng - Deputy Vice-Chancellor - Learning and Teaching - Nelson Mandela University

Image caption: Dr Muki Moeng, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Learning and Teaching at Nelson Mandela University

From classroom to campus: Nelson Mandela University paves the way for student success in 2024

Op:Ed by Dr Muki Moeng, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Learning and Teaching at Nelson Mandela University

Across South Africa, matric learners and their parents or guardians will be anxiously waiting for final exam results, scheduled to be released on January 19, 2024.

The uncertainty and waiting make it an uneasy time for all but it is essential for learners to know that they are not alone in how they feel and there is very little benefit in overthinking the situation, as nothing can now be done to change the outcome of the results. It is equally important to take a moment to acknowledge 13 years of education and to be proud of what has been achieved, no matter the outcome.

To the learners who do not get the results that they had hoped for, now is not the time to panic. Once you have confirmed your official result, take a deep breath and give yourself space to process the situation. Accept that you did your best, but your goal wasn’t reached and, with a clear head, consider your other options and work through these with a parent, guardian or mentor. This is a hard lesson that will need to be learned but, significantly, there are many second chances open to them, and it is crucial for learners to familiarise themselves with the options available. Your future is still bright, you just need a different path to get there.

Bridging two worlds

It is an exciting but daunting time for those learners who are about to embark on their university career. A huge responsibility sits with the institution, to ensure that this transition is as smooth as possible and to provide every opportunity to allow each student to succeed. From open days to orientation, these initiatives are essential for helping new students integrate into the academic and social culture of the university.

In a digital era, Nelson Mandela University stands as a beacon of innovation, exemplifying its commitment to student success with a pre-university app that enables prospective students to ask questions on a dedicated channel. Complementing this initiative is Digi-Buddies, an online portal designed to seamlessly equip students with the digital readiness required for their inaugural academic year.

Within this digital ecosystem, Moodle takes centre stage as a cutting-edge learning platform. Tailored not only for registered students but, in certain instances, also for those yet to enrol, Moodle serves as a dynamic hub where students can easily access lectures, course notes and an array of valuable resources, fostering a digitally enriched learning experience.

Cognisant that not every student or household is tech-savvy or has connectivity, combined with the acknowledgement that many students struggle with the transition from high school to university, all first-year students at Nelson Mandela University in 2024 are required to attend all lectures in person.

The university has also adopted a humanising pedagogy as its educational philosophy, where we aspire to provide care, systems, processes and behaviours that are student-centred and educationally enabling. Furthermore, through our Social Consciousness and Sustainable Futures module, students are challenged to understand Mandela the man, his values and intellectual legacies. This assists students to develop critical consciousness and acquire skills, knowledge, attitude and a disposition to make them a unique Nelson Mandela University graduate.

Student challenges

There are many other real challenges that students face, from accommodation and transport to food and mental well-being. At Nelson Mandela University, we have several campus-wide initiatives in place to support students and lessen the impact of these difficulties. University accommodation has been increased, larger buses are being looked at to alleviate long transport queues, food parcels and essentials like toiletries are provided to some students, and health and well-being are prioritised through the Emthonjeni Student Wellness programme.

Some challenges are beyond our control and are not specific to our institution. Concerns about funding and communication are raised by students at universities throughout South Africa. At Nelson Mandela University we provide space and platforms for students to voice their concerns, engage in discussions, submit their grievances and protest if they so choose. It is our commitment to uphold the principles of peaceful protest, emphasising that such actions should not involve intimidation, disrupt classes or damage property.

While we believe in giving students platforms to express themselves, we are fully committed to supporting them academically and socially. We have multiple systems and structures in place to do just that, from their first day on campus to their last day of graduation.

To all students who are about to embark on this exciting journey at university, remember that it is not just about the fun experiences but also about embracing responsibilities. Your education is an investment in yourself and your future, and you play a crucial part in its success. Seize the opportunities, engage in learning and be mindful of the responsibilities that come with it.

With a commitment to nurturing potential, we are dedicated to not only providing an exceptional education but also to actively contribute to the groundwork for your future success. Nelson Mandela University is ready and waiting to welcome you in 2024.

Article Courtesy of  

Kerry Simpson
Tel: +27 (0) 79 438 3252