UKZN Teaching & Learning Report 2018/2019
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
Professor Nana K. Poku
It would be easy to take Teaching and Learning for granted—the core business of the University, to be sure, and one that requires the coordinated efforts of the University’s dedicated scholars and administrators to meet the needs of our students, but some might suppose that the work requires only routine curricular and procedural adjustments.

But UKZN is committed to excellence—and that requires ambition; careful attention to the wide span of conditions that facilitate stimulating environments and innovative practice; and close monitoring of everything that goes into ensuring that our degree courses truly prepare our students for their career challenges. This work is vital for the entire University community and our common future. It is also both highly dynamic and demanding.

This is why it is important for me to write this preface to the Teaching and Learning Report 2018.

The staff responsible for managing the expansive Teaching and Learning portfolio have a special role in honoring UKZN’s commitment to South Africa’s wider Transformation Agenda. The profile of the UKZN student body has changed dramatically, and the learning and teaching experience is shifting accordingly to become better able to address the needs of the large proportion of our students from Q1-Q3 schools. 

Armed with the Senate-approved language policy and implementation plan, the language planning and development office continues to be a trailblazer in the sector as an institutional imperative to advance isiZulu indigenous language to its future as a language of education and commerce. One of the key innovations of the language policy and implementation plan is the introduction of bilingual tutorials at UKZN, a critical development for students whose first language is isiZulu. 

Other notable areas which are under continual review and improvement include the tutoring and mentorship of students in order to develop their capabilities to learn effectively. Other improvements include the careful transformation of the learning and teaching environments to embrace technology-enhanced teaching and learning, which has required the participation of academics in University Technology Enhanced Learning. 

With respect to academic staff, the University Education Induction Programme (UEIP), the Staff Mentorship and Development Program and Promoting the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning remain the three key projects for teaching and learning academic capacity enhancement. We are keenly aware that the enhancement of teaching and learning is necessarily a joint endeavor. In addition, through its flagship annual colloquium, the Academic Monitoring, and Support (AMS) project continues to be an important aspect of best practice at UKZN by which academics reflect on student support and academic monitoring, showcasing the ways in which the University takes innovations to support students seriously. It has now become a well-known, established event, which we have in common with our sister Universities.

The further reach of information technologies, together with a the emergence of private enterprises becoming knowledge providers in their own right has established in-house human capital development and credentialing initiatives. It is also fuelling a boom in private higher education competitive provision. Thus the historic and current focus of the University on the development of the capacity of academics to facilitate digital learning continues to propel us towards digital platforms and online learning as ways to meet external challenges in learning provision as well as to ameliorate periodic campus instabilities. 

Institutional learning through audits and the Quality Promotion and Assurance unit and Qualifications and Programs Reviews are complemented by Graduate Opinion Surveys and Student Evaluation of Teaching and Learning. The critical impetus now is to review quality assurance policies, all of the supporting regulations and procedures, and to develop ways of institutionalizing continuous improvement of the learning and teaching experiences of students and staff. 

These few examples demonstrate the professionalism and dedication of the managers and administrators of the University’s Teaching and Learning, who work to ensure not merely the maintenance of our high standards but who also search for ways to make everyone’s work—staff and students alike—an inclusive, enriching experience in highly dynamic, rapidly changing circumstances. The University’s pursuit of excellence in its teaching and learning begins and returns to these devoted men and women. I applaud their unflagging devotion to this vital work, which does us all proud. It gives me pleasure to commend this report to the entire University community.

Professor Nana K. Poku

Vice-Chancellor and principal

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