DUT Launches a One Stop Shop to improve First Years’ Experience on Campus
To equip first-year students with necessary knowledge and skills to allow them to successfully adapt and make the transition from high school to tertiary institutions was the aim of the DUT First-Year Student Experience (FYSE) Programme Planning Workshop which took place at the DUT Ritson Campus last week. The FYSE programme, made possible by the DUT Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), has been in existence since 2014 and is an institutional student development programme meant to build sustainable student communities of living and learning at the University. Incorrect choice of friends, low self-esteem, difficult aspects of the academic programme and lack of pre-university preparedness are some the many problems facing first-year students that were brought up at the workshop. According to CELT, the FYSE programme has been conceptualised with the idea of integrating the expertise of staff and departments from across DUT in order to assist students with the aforementioned issues and provide a stable foundation and support structure for the academic and personal development and progress of students. Talks on the conceptualisation and implementation of the programme by various DUT departments such as Information Technology and Journalism were presented at the workshop. Issues of the challenges that are encountered by first-year students, other existing programmes at DUT and the possible integration of such programmes into a single campus-wide comprehensive FYSE programme were also discussed. Professor Thengani Ngwenya, DUT CELT Director, said the all DUT departments needed to work together in positively enhancing the transition of first year students into university life through orientation as well as looking at decreasing the drop-out rate during the first year of study. “The general consensus on the way forward is that the university needs a focused and integrated system of supporting first-year students. Academic, professional support and administrative support departments were urged to work together in designing a ‘one-stop shop’ where first-year students could be assisted with various queries or referred to the relevant units where they can find the assistance they require. The university will have to invest in the programme by acquiring the necessary resources such as appropriately equipped venues and student advisors,” he said.