Developing institutional readiness for in-work, degree-level work-based learning in Eswatini

Fowler, C J H and Smith, C. and Dlamini, P. and Mahlalela, J.; (2022) Developing institutional readiness for in-work, degree-level work-based learning in Eswatini. In: Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium for Engineering Education. University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. ISBN 9781914241208

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The creation of engineers fit for 21st Century is important for solving key national and global problems. Universities must play a pivotal role in supporting individuals and organisations to effectively respond to these challenges through new educational strategies and programmes. Eswatini, a small Kingdom in Southern Africa, recognised that work-based learning (WBL) has the potential to contribute to its social and economic growth through widening access to Higher Education for employees and their organisations. Whilst industrial placements for students already existed in many programmes at the University of Eswatini, co-created programmes with industry for employees were not available. Since late 2019, the University of Eswatini, with support from Glasgow Caledonian University and University of Warwick, has been leading a project to introduce through-work WBL. The UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering funded the project. The introduction of WBL programmes is having a significant impact on the University’s existing practices, regulations, quality assurance policies and procedures. For example, WBL programmes are strongly premised on the recognition of prior learning, involve the co-design with industry of the curriculum, and are dependent on partnership agreements. Further, both staff in academia and industry will require significant staff development in using new pedagogies to assure the quality of WBL programmes. This paper will outline the changes that University of Eswatini have put in place and are still taking place. It will outline the main challenges and lessons learnt as well as the views of key stakeholders around introducing in-work, work-based learning into the university.

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