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CHE > Media and Publications > Che Events Presentations > Design considerations in the development of a new academic programme structure
Ansu Erasmus
September, 2005

This paper discusses the merging of higher education institutions in South Africa, but also covers some generic design considerations. There are additional considerations for merged institutions because of the merging partners’ different approaches, philosophies and culture, which must be accommodated when designing a new programme structure. It discusses in particular some of the experiences of the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), the result of a merger between three former technikons (Technikon Northern Gauteng, Technikon North West and Technikon Pretoria). The vision, mission and philosophy of these merging institutions differed sufficiently to create a number of challenges during the process of designing a new programme structure for the TUT.

The national documents that influenced and advocated for mergers provide a host of guidelines, but are silent on how the programmes should be structured after the mergers (Mfusi, 2004: 109). And yet the vehicle for achieving higher education transformation goals is the academic programme. Jansen (2004: 5) observes that ‘the curriculum is often treated as secondary to the larger financial and organisational alterations resulting from mergers’ and ‘…there are few (if any) systematic studies on the curriculum effects of merging two or more higher education institutions’. This paper discusses design considerations in developing a new programme structure for merged institutions from two perspectives: broadly conceptual (Section 2) and institutional (Section 3).

Although academic programme restructuring must of necessity be positioned in the international and national higher education context, this paper refers explicitly to such legislative and policy directives only when these have particular relevance to the discussion.

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