24 August 2016
Dear colleagues and students,
I write to inform you of a new initiative called UCT Plus, which is a programme that acknowledges the extra-curricular leadership work students bring to communities, sporting arenas, elected roles and role-modelling portfolios on our campus. UCT Plus, first initiated by the Department of Student Affairs (DSA) in 2007, has been developed and piloted over the last two years, and is ready to launch to the whole student community.
UCT Plus rewards the extra-curricular contributions by recording this work as a formal accreditation on a student's transcript. An academic transcript could be considered as the “Book of Your University Life” which has such importance as it is a permanent record and the cornerstone document, for many, of a future career. It can be further enhanced through UCT Plus.
Employers seek the most well-rounded individuals to fill vacancies. The UCT Plus programme supports students to articulate their skills through the sharpening process that they go through.
Through involvement in co-curricular activities, students can demonstrate key competencies that employers value, such as teamwork, leadership qualities and experience, communication skills and a passion for continuous learning and development. Experience in working in communities and a track record of working on social justice issues is also highly valued.
We know that being a student is hard work – with little free time, many challenges and stresses. When extra responsibility is taken on – for example, as a UCT society executive, Student Representative Council (SRC) leader or a community volunteer – we want to recognise both the contribution that a student has made to the UCT community and the active steps taken in their own self-development.
This development of formal recognition mechanisms for extracurricular activities, specifically leadership and community-based activities, speaks to the goal UCT has set of developing graduates with attributes of leadership, commitment to social justice, and well-rounded development.
PROGRESS TO DATE
A proposal for the recognition of UCT student extra-curricular activities was first initiated by the DSA in 2007. The recent working model for the pilot was developed during 2014 by representatives of the DSA, the SRC, Student Parliament, HIV/AIDS Inclusivity & Change Unit, UCT Careers Service and the International Academic Programmes Office.
The UCT Careers Service was awarded a Department of Higher Education and Training Teaching and Development Grant for a one-year pilot during 2015. The programme was piloted with four distinct leadership pathways: active learning, service to the community, positions of responsibility at UCT and “role-modelling” within the university. The pilot was not only a test of interest, software for logging activities, and feasibility of assessing the individual student's activities, it was also an evaluation of the impact that such activities had on the student's personal development. The results and model modifications were approved by Senate earlier this year for implementation. For 2016-2017 there is capacity to support a new cohort of students to board the UCT Plus system to benefit from transcript recognition and to pioneer a new breakthrough way of transferring skills.
WHAT EXTRA-CURRICULAR WORK WILL BE RECOGNISED?
As indicated above, four distinct leadership pathways have been identified. Students who fulfil the requirements are either in UCT elected roles, or they take part in UCT community outreach initiatives, the Global Citizenship Programme, mentoring, training and/or supervisory roles across campus. We will add more activities as the programme grows and if you want to find out whether your activity is catered for, please contact the programme coordinator.
There are three types of awards: UCT Plus Gold, Silver and Bronze (the recognition levels were determined long before the events in Rio). Each has a set of criteria that need to be met for it to be added to a transcript. There are supportive verifications, which will consist of a mix of technology and human interactions for activities that may be logged, student's attendance of specific talks and reviews of the interactive reflection processes completed.
HOW CAN FACULTY AND PROFESSIONAL, ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT & SERVICES STAFF SUPPORT THIS INNOVATION?
Faculties can benefit from this by incorporating UCT Plus into curriculum programmes and are invited to come forward with expressions of interest if there are any such activities that may be suitable for academic programmes or if there are extra-curricular activities that could be considered for inclusion in the transcripts.
HOW TO FIND OUT MORE
Information sessions will take place on 24 August 2016 as well as 14 and 28 September 2016, from 13h00-14h00 at Hoerikwaggo 3B, Upper Campus.
To find out more about this programme, visit MyCareer or email UCTplus@uct.ac.za.
Dr Max Price
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