Recruitment and orientation of students studying environmental health in African Higher education institutions

Morse, Tracy (2011) Recruitment and orientation of students studying environmental health in African Higher education institutions. Africa Academy for Environmental Health, online.

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    For many students attending African Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), the course and subsequent career they follow may not be their first choice due to limited places and school/ placement results. This is also compounded with the transition from government school systems to higher education where expectations are different and self discipline and study are essential. A survey of environmental health students in seven HEIs in six African countries indicated that only 68% received orientation when starting their university careers. Two out of every five students indicated that environmental health (EH) was not their first choice of course and just over half of those reported that they did not know what environmental health was when they began the course. Induction and orientation of new students has been shown to assist academic integration and enhance student outcomes. However, many EH departments in HEIs do not currently have a standard orientation and induction process for new students, often relying on institutional systems to undertake this task which can overburden students with information and systems. Subsequently, students are unaware of academic expectations, are unfamiliar with facilities and departmental staff and cannot see where their studies are taking them in terms of a career. To overcome these obstacles the Africa Academy for Environmental Health (AAEH) has developed a guidance note for student recruitment and orientation which contains generic packages departments can adapt as necessary. These systems have been piloted and adapted as necessary. The AAEH therefore advocate the following recommendations: (1) that all EH departments in HEIs follow the guidance document to assist in the adaptation and socialisation of students into the higher education system, (2) that further research be undertaken in HEIs to identify suitable innovative and interactive methods to achieve student orientation in both school and HEI level.

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