The recent riots (or protests, depending how you see them) at various Universities have caused many to think and write (or unfortunately write, and think later, as seen so often on social media) on how to solve the problems (which I see as opportunities) and far be it from me to keep my opinion wholly to myself. Always one for ideas I figured it may make sense to say a few things that I believe can brings solutions to our problems, albeit in an idealistic sense with little data, research or educational experience to back it up… yet.
Some solutions for UCT: (UCT is the one University all three directors of GMT+ have studied at, and know plenty about)
- Offer a UNISA-like option whereby students can access recorded lectures online, participate in online forums, write exams at UCT but have none of the superfluous things like a gym, Jammie shuttle et cetera et cetera. This is by no means an ideal situation for anyone. We all want to experience residence life, go to a massive library, discuss Plato on Jammie steps and such but for some, this type of thing will be right up their proverbial alley. Run well it can lower the number of students on campus, bring in extra income, and produce more graduates in this country. I’m sure Universities abroad do this already, why not ask them to help us with a pilot version for a year and take it from there “Africa style”.
- Pay it back loans – My understanding is that tax payers already pay two thirds of University fees, why not have a tax implemented that (whatever your fee percentage is) you must pay back each year you study at a University with a year of work in our country. You’ll be taxed anyway, so we’re not asking for more tax, but if you think you can emigrate afterwards then you’ll have to pay a tax for each year you work abroad. Yes, this is an oversimplification, but let’s ensure that all this money going towards University students eventually comes back into our economy (especially from those who benefit from it).
- Sliding scale – The UK recently implemented a great incentive scheme whereby the better marks you received, the less you paid in fees. This encouraged people to study hard, but also ensured they only studied things they’d do well in. Why not couple that with a sliding scale based on your income level (or that of parents, really) so that those who are really poor, and work really hard are rewarded handsomely. Those who underperform are forced to pay more, but if they’re poor (or equivalent good reasons, like learning in a second or third language) they’re given a bit of a break.
- AirBnb UCT! Ok, I had to have one crazy idea but what on earth is the point of those residences for six months of the year?! University is only open for six months, with a little time in summer school et cetera, but honestly, what a waste of bed space! Never mind the staff who have nothing to do the extra months (think cleaners, wardens, security guards et al) – bring in piles of income through renting out simple, usefully located accommodation! What an experience! Far better than slumming it in hipster-central Woodstock where you’re likely to be mugged, unless you’re educated beforehand, that is 😉
- Listen. Everyone thinks the world needs more teachers, but truly, we need more people who will listen.