UPSET opens doors between institutions in post school sector

by Willa de Ruyter

12 May 2023

The launch of the UPSET (Unfurling Post School Education and Training (UPSET) Project) Gauteng Articulation Hub at the Tshwane University of Technology early in May 2023, demonstrates TUT’s commitment to cement relations and take hands with partners from Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges (TVET) colleges as well as other Higher Education Institutions (HEI) in the Gauteng region to ensure the success of the project. The launch follows the signing of an MoU with UPSET to collaborate in advancing articulation opportunities between HEIs and TVET colleges.

Prof Ben van Wyk, DVC Teaching and Learning with Technology speaking at the launch of the UPSET Gauteng Hub.

UPSET is an initiative funded by DHET, led by the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and SAQA. It aims to strengthen articulation and other collaboration as well as learning-and-work-pathways between the South African Post School Education and Training sector through nine provincial or regional articulation hubs. 

“There is nothing upsetting about the UPSET Articulation Hub. If anything, it is one of the most innovative and exciting projects to create access to post school education and training in a long time. Aligned to the Council on Higher Education’s focus on the promotion of articulation, UPSET aims to address the multiple pathways of how young people engage in learning, facilitate proper articulation between universities of technology and the traditional universities, as well as the articulation of skills and learning throughout the PSET sector,” said Prof Ben van Wyk, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Teaching, Learning and Technology at TUT.

“The support and drive of this project by DHET and SAQA at national level, corroborates the dire need to continuously have this matter on our radar and intentionally work together to improve collaboration. Since the project aims to establish nine provincial/regional Articulation Hubs, TUT has agreed to foster cooperation in the establishment of the Gauteng Articulation Hub,” Prof van Wyk added.

He outlined the three primary focus areas of the Hub:

  • The development of Institutional Articulation Implementation Plans with partnering TVET Colleges;
  • The establishment of protocols for jointly offering new/additional Higher Certificates with selected TVET Colleges;
  • The establishment of processes for tracking transitional articulating students and providing academic development support to these students, where applicable.

“With the launch, TUT commits to the MoU signed to ensure we achieve mutually beneficial outcomes and experiences to support articulation in the education sector,” Prof van Wyk concluded. Prof Darren Lortan, UPSET Project Leader tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the project goals and objectives are accomplished and the planned deliverables are accounted for, explained the importance of the UPSET initiative. 

“In the executive summary of the National Development Plan of South Africa, is a proposal to improve the quality of education in underperforming schools that further education and training colleges. Universities of Technology are in that space of training young people for the workplace but as we would do at DUT, and other Universities of Technology, we are also focusing now on not just limiting ourselves to workplace, but for entrepreneurial exploration,” he said.

In June 2021 the Durban University of Technology (DUT) launched the Unfurling Post School Education and Training (UPSET) Project This comes after DUT was awarded funding of R7 950 000 by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to assist in the implementation of this project. DUT, as the anchor institution will play a leading role in the development of Articulation Implementation Plans (AIPs) and manage the UPSET Project on behalf of DHET. This will be done together with a number of Higher Education Institutions that have already developed articulation initiatives with Colleges that will all form the first cohort of participating regional hubs. The Regional hub and their articulation partner institutions will constitute an articulation cluster, comprising of articulation champions from partner institutions who will be responsible for developing regional implementation plans.”

Prof Joey Jansen Van Vuuren and Dr Bertie Buitendag from TUT’s Faculty of Information and Communication Technology shared information about the success and impact of the Higher Certificate in Cybercrime, a planned bridging programme that provides many opportunities for articulation, which is already underway between TUT and TVETs in the region. Due to the advancement of digital technology, cyber security has become increasingly important in modern life, aspects that are addressed in the course. 

The Department of Computer Systems, in collaboration with the department of Mechatronics also assisted DHET to train all TVET NCV lecturers, introducing the Level 2 qualification. A total of 50 college lecturers from across the country received training.

The central theme of the messages from support by Dr Heidi Bolton from SAQA, Thivhudziwi Vele and David Modiba from DHET, as well as Marco McFarlane from the (QCTO) Quality Council for Trades and Occupations, was about the project’s potential to change the scenarios facing the higher education system and TVET sector, building a more equal society, addressing the deep issues around social mobility, the eradication of poverty and the vital role that entrepreneurship should play in the process. 

The importance of linking the project to the expected vast changes in the labour market with the adaption of digital technology, was also emphasised. 

In conclusion, Dr Mumthaz Banoobhai the Gauteng Hub leader and Senior Director of Higher Education Development and Support commended all the role players for their participation. “Listening to the passion and enthusiasm in the sector for the project and its potential, has given me renewed energy to move forward. The issues raised during the day, will now be discussed and put into action by the task team in collaboration with other stakeholders. to ensure seamless transition for students in the PSET sector,” she said.

She added that we must be intentional in our discussions to broaden access while we align policies, practise, curriculum as well as academic and student support to assist in the creation of a strong UPSET Gauteng Hub community, be it through Higher Certificates or other programmes. “We have a formalised commitment through the MoU and articulation plans, which must now be implemented and our successes monitored. Research to determine the impact of UPSET programme on student success and throughput will be of utmost importance for future initiatives,” Dr Banoobhai concluded. 

Dr Mumthaz Banoobhai the Gauteng Hub leader and Senior Director of Higher Education Development and Support, with Prof Darren Lortan, national UPSET Project Leader, during the Gauteng Hub launch.

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