Tuesday, September 27, 2011

UNISA "pioneer of higher distance educ. in the western world"

"Nelson Mandela obtained a law degree from Unisa during the time he spent in jail on Robben Island."   More excerpts below from  About University of South Africa, UNISA

"Founded in 1873 as the University of the Cape of Good Hope, the University of South Africa (or UNISA as it is commonly known, spoken as you-nee-suh) spent most of its early history as an examining agency for Oxford and Cambridge universities and as an incubator from which most other universities in South Africa are descended. In 1946 it was given a new role as a distance education university and today it offerscertificate, diploma and degree courses up to doctoral level." - from Wikipedia "Univ. of South Africa"

"In the 1940's, as its colleges became fully-fledged universities, UNISA entered another phase. It was clear that students trying to study on their own for examinations needed tuition, so UNISA began teaching them by correspondence.

With the establishment of the Division of External Studies in 1946, South Africa’s first university also became the pioneer of higher distance education in the western world, a quarter of a century before the UK Open University admitted its first students. Since then UNISA has been a metaphor for the turbulent, but truly inspiring evolution of South Africa itself.

"Two decades later, when that new South Africa began to emerge,...vigorous debate about UNISA’s role in the new polity. Some urged closing UNISA because it had reinforced the apartheid system.... [others] believed that a better strategy was to harness UNISA’s remarkable administrative systems and logistics to the goals of the new nation.
"That was what happened...the transition was not plain sailing. No university in the world has faced a more challenging trajectory than UNISA in the last two decades.

"...daunting task of transforming the philosophy, pedagogy, structures and people of a massive institution while continuing to teach students effectively. While engaged in that transition ...into one of the world’s largest mega-universities."

- Excerpts from "UNISA’s Unique Academic Odyssey: Remarks by Sir John Daniel After conferment of the degree of Doctor of Literature & Philosophy (honoris causa) Pretoria, 5 May 2010

University of the Cape of Good Hope founded in 1873 - became University of South Africa in 1916.   University of South Africa became a Distance Education university in 1946, creating more than 62 years of experience with distance education ...One of the world's mega-universities

"Diversity in Learners

Approximately 3000 different courses
Students distributed over South Africa and the rest of the world
Average age - 30 yrs
23 different languages
80% students are part-time learners
...Former president Nelson Mandela obtained a law degree from Unisa during the time he spent in jail on Robben Island.  He was also awarded an Honorary Doctoral Degree by Unisa"
From:  About University of South Africa, UNISA:  Unisa - Brief History

Photo of "UNISA Library," by Michael Sean Gallagher
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