Dr Quenton Kritzinger, director of the four year programmes at Mamelodi and senior lecturer of plant sciences, told Perdeby that students have a greater opportunity and more time to engage with the content of the modules, which gives them a greater chance of succeeding. Dr Kritzinger also said that extended programmes are becoming more and more popular and that they open up opportunities to students who do not yet meet the university admission requirements.

Students who did not perform well academically at high school level are given another chance to prove themselves if they are willing to work hard. Dr Erika Müller, acting manager for the ENGAGE Program and professional orientation lecturer, told Perdeby that the ENGAGE Program is coordinated in such a way that it runs parallel to that of the four-year engineering programme, and that additional modules are also added to the programme to assist in conceptual understanding. Even with this careful structure set out, some students at UP are under the impression that extended programmes might be seen as a grade 13, which is not the case.

Ida Jeannette Meyer, psychometrist, psychologist and faculty student advisor on Mamelodi campus, believes that an extended programme, “Gives a student the opportunity to use the support network we have to develop academically and to mature to a point of knowing what they want to do with the rest of their lives.” She believes that even though students are given a lot of support, there will always be a stigma towards something that is not of the norm.

Cindy Mahlangu, a second-year student currently in an extended biological sciences course, believes that, “Students like me in extended programmes feel that we [are] treated like a charity case, like we need special attention.” At the same time, she feels that without the support and module structure set out on Mamelodi, she would never have succeeded on Main campus where she is situated now. Jerome de Sousa, a fifth-year BCom student, feels that there was a negative stigma towards the extended programmes, but that this has diminished to a situation where other people do not care where you are studying, or how long you are taking to do it.

Dr Kritzinger is of the opinion that the costs and resources involved in participating in, being a part of and running extended programmes are justified by the success rate experienced in student achievement. He adds that the dropout rate is a lot less compared to that on Main campus, and “At the end of the day, they all get the same degree.”

Andile Siphosethu Mabuyakhulu, a student who has completed his BSc in actuarial and financial maths and who started in the extended programme, said, “I had to persevere and work hard in order to be accepted for the mainstream degree I wanted to do the year following my time in the extended programme, and because success loves preparation, extension courses are designed to prepare students academically for the time that lies ahead. As a result, when one starts building their career, they are prepared to grow every time an opportunity for growth presents itself.”

One has to remember that success comes after hard work. Extension courses are not a failure, they are simply another option available to students.

Illustration: Johann van Tonder

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