No matter how you want to define career and lifestyle success, the higher one’s educational attainment, the higher the likelihood of employment (even in economic downturn), job retention, progress and individual financial and lifestyle success. This despite the many stories of the exceptional ones who have gone on to major success with little or no education, but these are ‘wild card’ exceptions that just prove the rule!
Expanding out from the individual is the obvious collective benefit resulting from the fact that the more educated citizens a country has employed in the economy, the stronger the nation and the more significant the ability to contribute to the country’s economy and therefore to compete in a global economy.
So, what constitutes success in higher, further or tertiary education? One measurement is the hard-and-fast, black-and-white results – how well did a student or group of students do, did they pass, how well, were distinctions achieved? This is very important, but is by no means the full picture in terms of success for a student. Very crucial is the ‘throughput rate’ or, simply, did every student continue to the next level, and finally, graduate? And when (or if) they did, were they ready and able to start their career, find placement and progress?
Not everyone is the same, and it is vital to concentrate more fully on finding the correct match or fit for a student in the higher education landscape. Academically, a student might be proficient, but what about interests? What about support, a social and emotional fit? It is these ‘softer’ factors that can make the difference between a pass and a distinction, a first year drop out and a graduate, and an out-of-work graduate and a young person on a successful career trajectory.
With eight campuses in South Africa, and a variety of educational partners (such as The Open University of London and the IMM) conferring differing degrees, diplomas and certificates, the Independent Institute of Education’s Varsity College is constantly working at providing students with the individual fit and support that will ensure their success on all these levels.
With over twenty years’ experience, this educational brand has honed and refined its offering to answer these issues, and address each one. And the improvement never ceases, the education, the teaching methods, the qualifications and the students change all the time, so keeping up is key. In 2012, the overall module pass rate at Varsity College (across all campuses) was 82.2%. Of these, 24% of students achieved distinctions and 70% went on to study further and complete qualifications.
This is a remarkable achievement for Varsity College, but not one that, once achieved, will be allowed to slip. The aim is to keep improving, keep giving the students the tools they need to achieve these statistics. Tools such as small classes, dedicated lecturers and modern teaching and learning methods. Tools such as lifestyle-oriented sporting opportunities, social activities and community engagement activities that teach work integration whilst giving back to communities.
And perhaps one of the most important tools is access to a campus Career Centre. Here, students enter a world where they start their career from the first day they step onto campus, not the last. The Career Centre teaches students interview and CV writing skills and business etiquette. And how to put all this into practice by assisting with part-time work and graduate opportunities, lending that helping hand when it is needed, and allowing the fledgling graduate to truly fly the nest after graduation. Since the inception of the Career Centre in January 2011, 3 320 students have been placed in part-time work whilst studying, 336 graduates have been placed in their first position through the Career Centre and over 3 235 students have registered on campus-specific Career Centre websites.
So, the deal is that higher, further or tertiary education should never be just a pipe dream, and once started, should never be a waste of time or a piece of unfinished business. We owe it to our children and our country to honour the future by creating a fertile ground for success.