Sonia Berman: Valuable input and guidance

29 March 2004

Associate Professor Sonia Berman, convenor of the Information Technology Programme in the science faculty, describes why they were among the first to volunteer for a review.

"We volunteered to be reviewed last year partly because we had just begun applying for British Computer Society accreditation of our degree, and were keen to integrate the two exercises.

"But we also really welcomed the opportunity to motivate teachers to identify and tackle ways of improving what we do. Were this not seen as essential for UCT's five-yearly quality assurance reviews, we would no doubt have faced considerable resistance.

"As it turned out, in producing the self-review portfolio, we found no such resistance whatsoever, particularly since the format is not prescribed and so individuals are free to present material in the way they consider best.

"We know that we have a world-class degree on offer and were keen to demonstrate this and, at the same time, to have a voice with which to draw attention to the particular problems we face, which are beyond our control, such as laboratory resourcing, timetabling and the like!

"Whether UCT has the resources to address shortcomings highlighted by academic reviews remains to be seen; there are also other issues with no financial implications, which I hope will now be earmarked for remedy.

"From the outset we saw the review as a means to look critically at what we were doing, rather than as a vehicle for being scrutinised or assessed by others - for instance, each section of our portfolio concludes with a self-rating where we critically evaluate our perceived position in that regard.

"The spirit with which our self-review portfolio and the review panel's report were received by UCT was also always constructive and positive, and throughout the process the review was treated as developmental by everyone, never as potentially punitive.

"Compiling a self-review portfolio required a significant amount of time, and was done entirely by staff members in the departments concerned without any additional resources or personnel.

"We had very valuable input and guidance from the planning department and from the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED), whose willingness to give of their time was really quite extraordinary.

"I was particularly impressed with the ease with which we could obtain statistical data from the planning office regarding student throughput and the like. From this we gained some interesting insight as regards the competencies of our intake, where our students have problems and the success of our ADP programme."

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Please view the republishing articles page for more information.