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Mar 13

MARCH 2019

Grade 11s who are serious about bringing their best game to their Matric finals next year should, like performance athletes, start their preparation now so that they enter the home straight in pole position when 2020 arrives, an education expert says.

"The temptation will be there to put off thinking about Grade 12 until next year, but Grade 11s have the most powerful weapon in their arsenal right now – that of time," says Natasha Madhav, Senior Head of Programme: Faculty of ICT at The Independent Institute of Education, South Africa's largest and most accredited private higher education provider.

"As a Grade 11 learner, you need to understand how competitive the landscape will be after school, and that it is not in your best interest to wait until exam prep starts next year to start exercising your academic muscles. You have to train, prepare and lay the groundwork now, so that you can build on your performance next year, rather than try and get the basics in place while the clock is ticking," she says.

Madhav says learners must also approach each assessment this year as if it is going to be the deciding one, and learn from and correct their approach when problems are identified.

"Doing well now could also pay off pre-emptively, as many higher education institutions will allow provisional placement based on your Grade 11 marks, which will dramatically lift the pressure next year," she says.


Senior learners should look at their last two years of school holistically, rather than as two distinct years, Madhav says.

"Take some time to draft a two-year global overview of key dates that will arise this year and next," she advises, adding that this calendar will include actual or estimated dates for all assignments, tests and exams.

"You may think you have a lot of time ahead of you, but when drafting this calendar, you'll quickly see the reality of how demanding and time-intensive these next two years will be. The good news accompanying the realisation of the challenge ahead, is that you can now accurately determine how much time you'll have to prepare for each assessment, and not be tempted to procrastinate."


While there won't be much free time going around in the run-up to Matric, Grade 11s should use any time they do have on their hands wisely.

"So we are not saying you should be sitting in front of your books 24/7," says Madhav. "But when you do have time to spare, say during the holidays or weekends, do a little bit every day to strengthen your actual ability to handle the workload which will progressively increase not only this year and next, but also when you enter higher education."

Madhav says learners can use the time they have to watch YouTube videos of cool study hacks, different ways of learning and revising, learning to touch type or even doing some volunteer or internship work.

"These are all fun activities which, when compounded, can make a notable difference to your academic performance as well as the strength of your study or work applications in relation to those of your peers.

"Now is a great time to make a commitment to lifelong learning, and vowing to yourself to do something every day that makes you stronger, wiser and more resilient. These are skills that you need to craft and hone on an ongoing basis, as you can't summon them out of the blue when needed."


Madhav advises Grade 11s to take some time to look closely at what they intend to do after school, and particularly to investigate their options broadly and thoroughly, and then ensure that the subjects will allow them to pursue their chosen path.

"There are a number of reasons why you should consider where you are now compared to where you were when you first decided on your current subjects, as well as where you are going to go in future," says Madhav.

"Maybe when you made your choice you did so based on the idea that you might go into communication or design. Perhaps now you are more inclined to pursue a career in accounting or law. Whatever it is, ensure that your subject choices are still aligned to your current vision for your future, and the entry requirements at your higher education institution of choice."

She says where students see they are going to fall short of entry requirements based on their subject selection, they could consider taking an additional subject, or should circumstances allow, change subjects – although this should not be done without serious consideration of consequences and discussion with the school.

But apart from ensuring you are on the right path, the exercise of considering how your subjects support further study has the added benefit of reminding you of how your subjects will enable you to realise your dreams after school.

"This is likely to provide you with fresh motivation to tackle even those ones you've been finding dreary or challenging," says Madhav, "and help you not only understand your work, but also get to grips with it in such a way that you can apply what you've learned."

Madhav says that next year, when learners enter their final year of school, it will no longer only be about the amount of time they spend in front of their books, but also about the quality of that time.

"You are in a position right now to influence the quality of that time, and effectively the trajectory of your post-school education and career. So use this time wisely to get in the right frame of mind so that you will be able to perform to the very best of your ability next year and beyond."

Mar 05
Interview with Louise Wiseman about the recent High Court ruling in favour of the IIE law degree

Feb 28
Students welcome private university law ruling

Durban - LAW students at private universities have expressed relief after the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruling declaring the Independent Institution of Education’s (IIE) LLB programme equivalent to that offered at any public university in South Africa.

Sinothi Mtshali, 20, a second-year LLB student at the IIE’s Varsity College in Durban North, was a first-year social sciences student at UKZN in 2017 and said there were differences between the two institutions.


“There were too many of us in class at UKZN. I would be scared to raise my hand and ask a question, but here at VC there is a small class and you get a direct communication line with your lecturer,” he said.

Mtshali said the court case over the LLB programme had weighed heavily on his mind.

“The university was very upfront with us, but I was still worried that I might go through four years of studying law and not become a lawyer,” he said.

Louise Wiseman, managing director at Varsity College, said the IIE’s goal was to offer accredited, quality, private education.

In 2020, the IIE will launch a postgraduate diploma programme to supplement its Bachelor of Commerce course. This will create a clear pathway for their accounting students to become chartered accountants.

The Bachelor of Accounting degree at Varsity College was accredited by the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2017.

Tristan Nobre, 21, a third-year accounting student at Varsity College in Durban North, said the constant strikes at public universities led him to private tertiary education. “There are no disruptions, and the courses are very strong and highly rated,” he said.



Feb 27
Court lifts bar on LLB degrees obtained from private colleges

Cape Town - The Pietermaritzburg High Court has ruled in favour of the Independent Institution of Education’s LLB degree and has given Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Michael Masutha one year to change the Legal Practice Act.
The ruling means that law graduates from private colleges are just as qualified to enter the legal profession as their counterparts from public universities.

The ruling in favour of the IIE has significant implications for registered and accredited private higher education institutions in South Africa.

On Friday, Acting Judge (AJ) Carol Sibiya found that students studying towards the IIE’s LLB degree at Varsity College were qualified to enter the legal profession after graduation.

Varsity College is a brand of the IIE, whose other brands include Vega and Rosebank College.

In passing judgment, Judge Sibiya declared section 26 (1) (a) of the Legal Practice Act (LPA) constitutionally invalid insofar as it only allows LLB graduates from public universities to enter the profession and precludes students from private institutions from doing so.

The ruling, which still has to be ratified by the Constitutional Court, was suspended for one year to give Masutha the opportunity to change the problematic sections of the act.

The matter, which was brought by the IIE and opposed by the KZN Law Society, sought to have the offending section declared invalid. It arose last year following a query by a parent of a student at the Varsity College to the KZN Law Society.

The Law Society’s response was to say that only graduates from “universities” could be permitted to become candidate attorneys and therefore the IIE’s qualification would not be recognised for this purpose.

Judge Sibiya said she could find “no rational basis” for differentiating between persons with an LLB degree, particularly given that the Council for Higher Education (CHE), the highest educational authority in the land, confirmed that there was no difference in the quality and outcomes of the IIE’s four-year LLB and that of public universities. She found that the distinction created by Section 26 was an unnecessary and unjustifiable limitation to entry into the profession.

The IIE’s LLB degree was accredited by the CHE in 2017 and was offered for the first time last year.

The judgment ends a period of anxiety for more than 400 law students and for the IIE, which was perplexed by a seeming conflict between the Higher Education Act, through which degrees at private higher education institutions are deemed equivalent to those from public universities, and the LPA that drew a distinction.

Commenting on the ruling, IIE director Felicity Coughlan said: “We were always confident of our position. However, the uncertainty that existed in the law created a great deal of unnecessary consternation for our students and their parents." 

African News Agency (ANA)
Feb 27
Court rules LLB degree from private colleges and universities are equal
The court has ruled that a law degree from an accredited private college is just as good as one from a public university.

Law students from either institution are as qualified to enter the legal profession once they graduate.

On Friday, the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruled that the current version of the Legal Practice Act was constitutionally invalid.

This is because it favoured LLB graduates from universities and discriminated against those from private institutions.

The Independent Institute of Education (IIE) challenged the constitutionality of a problematic section of the Act last year.

The institute, owning private education brands such as Vega, Varsity College and Rosebank College, says it is happy with the legal outcome.

The ruling, to be ratified by the Constitutional Court, is suspended for one year in order to give the department of justice and constitutional development an opportunity to change the problematic section.

The IIE's Varsity College started offering a four-year LLB degree last year after receiving accreditation from The Council of Higher Education in 2017.

IIE's general manager Peter Kriel, says the institute is confident that the changes will be ratified soon.

The accreditation process for private higher education providers and public universities is exactly the same.

Peter Kriel, General manager - Independent Institute of Education
Once the wording in the Legal Practice Act is corrected then we can move forward.

Peter Kriel, General manager - Independent Institute of Education
Listen for more on the ruling:
to listen to this interview on the ADvTECH website click here
Feb 27
Court Rules on Law Degree Amendment



Feb 25

In a case that has significant implications for registered and accredited Private Higher Education Institutions in South Africa, the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday ruled in favour of The Independent Institution of Education's LLB Degree.

On 22 February 2019, Acting Judge (AJ) Carol Sibiya found that students currently studying towards The IIE's LLB degree at Varsity College are as qualified to enter the legal profession after graduation as students at Public Universities. Varsity College is a brand of The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE), whose other brands include Vega and Rosebank College. 

In passing judgement, Sibiya (AJ) declared section 26 (1) (a) of the Legal Practice Act (LPA) constitutionally invalid insofar as it only allows LLB graduates from Public Universities to enter the profession and precluded students from Private Institutions from doing so.  

The declaration of unconstitutionality still needs to be confirmed by the constitutional court.

The application by The IIE – which was opposed by the KZN Law Society - to have the offending section declared invalid arose in 2018 following an enquiry by a parent of a student at The IIE's Varsity College to the KZN Law Society. The Law Society's response was to say that only graduates from "Universities" could be permitted to   become candidate attorneys and therefore The IIE's qualification would not be recognised for this purpose.

Sibiya (AJ) could find no rational basis for differentiating between persons with an LLB degree, particularly given that the Council for Higher Education (CHE), the highest educational authority in the land, confirmed that there was no difference in the quality and outcomes of The IIE's 4-year LLB and that of Public Universities.

She found that the distinction created by Section 26 created an unnecessary and unjustifiable limitation to entry into the profession.

The IIE's LLB degree was accredited by the CHE in 2017 and was offered for the first time in 2018. The judgment ends a period of anxiety for over 400 law students and for The IIE, who were perplexed by a seeming conflict between the Higher Education Act, through which degrees at Private Higher Education institutions are deemed equivalent to those from Public Universities, and the LPA, that drew a distinction.

"We were always confident of our position," says Dr Felicity Coughlan, Director of The Independent Institute of Education.

"However, the uncertainty that existed in the law created a great deal of unnecessary consternation for our students and their parents. The issue has its roots in the old Attorney's Act of 1979. When the new LPA was promulgated the offending clauses were merely carried through, when the word 'University' ought to have been updated to read 'Higher Education Institution'."

Dr Coughlan says further confusion arose as a result of the fact that while previously private institutions in South Africa were not allowed to be called 'Universities', amendments to the Higher Education Act in 2017 now permit this.

"However, the criteria for an institution to be recognised as a University have not yet been communicated by the Minister of Higher Education or included in the amendment, which effectively means that it remains impossible for any Private Higher Education Institution to be called a University, despite equivalent qualifications. This was a matter also dealt with in the judgment."

The IIE's Varsity College Managing Director, Louise Wiseman, says they are celebrating the outcome.

"Our graduating students will be able to apply with confidence to any law society, to be admitted as candidate attorneys anywhere in South Africa."

Feb 20

University choices may feel like a distant priority for this year's Matrics who are currently settling into the rhythm of their final year at school. But now is in fact the optimal time to be investigating what they want to study and where, because making the right choice takes time, and will ultimately impact on study success and employability 4 years from now, an expert says.

"Prospective students will start applying from around the April holidays onwards, whereafter the applications will start coming in thick and fast, and the rush to secure a place will intensify. Once your fellow learners start applying, you will really start to feel the pressure to do so as well, which could lead to you settling for a generic qualification or taking the traditional route that others in the same boat as you are following just to make sure you don't miss your chance," says Nola Payne, Head of Faculty: Information and Communications Technology at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest private higher education institution.


"The gravity of the choice you need to make about your future in coming weeks can't be overstated. The right study choice at the right institution is a solid foundation for future success, but the wrong choice can exact a costly financial and emotional toll for a long time. It therefore makes sense to use the relative calm of the coming weeks – a calm that will not again be repeated in your Matric year – to make absolutely sure about what you want to do next year," says Payne.


She says there are two main questions around which Matrics should focus their investigations: 1) What should I study and 2) Where should I study.



    "If you have more or less of an idea of your strengths and ideal work, that's a great start," notes Payne.


    "However may people have no idea of what they want to do with their life after school.

    These learners should start by investigating potential careers that interest them, and importantly, investigate the demand for suitably qualified professionals in these fields."


    Payne advises Matrics to scour job advertisements, see which positions excite them, and devour any media they can lay their hands on to get an idea of the kinds of careers that are out there.


    "Remember that new careers exist today that are vastly different to the careers of the past, and you may even land upon something you've never heard of before. Once you've identified your ideal career, you should then investigate what you would need to study to do the kind of work that excites you."


    A major consideration is whether to opt for a traditional academic degree, or a work-focused one, says Payne.


    "In our tough job market, the closer a degree is aligned to the realities of the world of work, and the greater a qualification's ability to make you land on your feet from the first day on the job, the better your chances of success. So ask institutions about their lecturers and curricula – are they still involved in their profession beyond teaching, and does the institution have close ties with companies and industry professionals?


    "The days of academic ivory towers disconnected from the demands and requirements of the real world are numbered, and prospective students must endeavour to find an institution that understands and responds to what is needed in today's workplaces."


    With South Africa's 26 public universities and countless private higher education institutions, prospective students have their work cut out for them in determining where their goals and ambitions would be best realised. Because if an institution is registered and accredited, its qualifications will be valid and recognised in the workplace, regardless of whether they originate from a private institution or a state funded one.


    But there are other important issues to consider. These include proximity to where one currently lives, class sizes, student support and career guidance services, and the degree to which the curriculum is aligned and able to adapt to modern workplaces.


    "Opting for a uni closer to home means savings on the financial front, as well as proximity to your existing support structures which can be helpful when the going gets tough," says Payne.


    "Large class sizes can make you feel invisible and like a number, while smaller class sizes mean more attention and a greater feeling of belonging. Getting real-life work experience and assignments prepare you for the workplace in a way theory only can never do, while student support services can make a crucial difference in your success.


    "Make sure you get satisfactory feedback on all these issues before signing up with an institution," she says.


    Payne says making the right choice, based on thorough research and investigation of all options, has a huge role to play in student outcomes.


    "Many students drop out of their first year because they made their study choice under pressure, or because they realise after a few weeks or months that there are other qualifications more suited to their aspirations. Some only get exposed to interesting fields and other higher education institutions once they leave school and are already studying – a situation that can be avoided if proper time and attention is given now to exploring what's out there.


    "We urge teachers, parents and guardians to, in coming weeks, guide the young people in their care to enable them to make informed choices calmly and with clarity. This will allow learners to put the anxiety of their 2020 plans behind them, and focus fully on doing their best in the important series of exams that lie ahead this year."
Feb 12

Across the country hundreds of thousands of young people recently entered Higher Education hoping to graduate in a few years so that they are qualified to enter the workplace. The reality however is that first-year dropout rates are extremely high in South Africa, which means many first years won't complete their studies.

But the good news is that there are a number of early alarm bells which, if heeded, can help students manage their risk and prevent them from abandoning their studies, an education expert says.

"While statistics vary, it is estimated that more than 40% of students quit their studies after their first year. Some would argue that this figure is as high as 60%," says Peter Kriel, General Manager at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest private Higher Education provider.

"Not being successful as a first year student in Higher Education, is a process that begins well before a student actually drops out of Higher Education, as there are various early signs of potential failure that can predict if a student may run into trouble later," he says.

Kriel says parents and students should note that factors influencing study success can be broadly divided into three categories: Broader socio-economic or personal factors, not properly doing one's homework before deciding what to study and where, and most importantly, one's approach and actions as a first year student.

For students who are already in Higher Education, the third category is the one they need to address now, says Kriel.

He says that students should carefully consider the questions below. If the answer to any of these questions is "NO", they need to take action as recommended in the solution to each problem, as they might be at risk.

Q1: Did I meaningfully participate in my institution's orientation programme?

Any good institution of Higher Education should have a first year orientation programme, says Kriel.


He says the information provided during orientation is intended to guide students logistically, so they can focus on academic work without being overwhelmed by admin.


"If you missed out on orientation, particularly academic onboarding programmes, you will now have to acquire these skills on your own on top of the day-to-day academic demands."


Solution: Speak to someone to find out what the orientation programme included.  If your institution of choice is offering an extended first year on-boarding programme, make sure you get involved immediately. Make time to specifically focus on trying to gather the information you missed out on – logistical information is especially easy to gather. Academic preparedness will be a little more challenging, but it is worth catching up on what you missed early on.


Q2: Am I attending most of my classes?

Class attendance is probably the single most important contributing factor to success, says Kriel.


"Of course, reasons beyond your control may cause you to occasionally miss a lecture or tutorial, but if you miss class simply because you don't feel like it or you had a late night and feel like sleeping in, you are at risk," he says.


"If you miss class because you are working on an assignment or task in another module – you may need to plan better. Missing class to do assignments becomes a vicious circle as you miss more classes to do other assignments. This is a recipe for failure."


Solution: Undertake to miss no more classes going forward, and draw up a roster for future assignments so you can complete these without needing to skip class. Prioritise your classes and schedule all other activities so there is no conflict. If something comes up which prevents you from attending a specific lecture, catch up as soon as you can.


Q3: Did I pass all my assessments to date?

It is still early in the academic year, but your performance in any assessment you may have had, be it a formal test or assignment or a task completed in class, is already a clear indicator of your outcomes profile, says Kriel.


Solution:  Determine why you failed an assessment. Did you work hard enough? If not, you know you need to work harder. Are there parts of the work you don't understand because you missed class? If so, follow the advice in point 2 above. Did you do everything possible and simply do not understand certain concepts? If this is the case, speak to your lecturer sooner rather than later about how to approach the issue.


Q4: Did I acquire all the prescribed text for my modules?

For many reasons, not least financial pressures, many students don't buy prescribed textbooks.


"Unfortunately, your chances of success are diminished if you don't have textbooks.  Textbooks guide students through the syllabus of a specific module like a roadmap and are often accompanied by additional resources, questions and activities that will enhance the mastering of the required material," says Kriel.


Solution: If you can afford to buy the prescribed text, get it as soon as possible. If not, know that student-centred Higher Education institutions will be acutely aware of the challenges some students face and may have e-book alternatives. Often these are available for free to registered students. Speak to the librarian on your campus to find out if there is an e-book alternative for the textbooks you don't have. There may also be copies of the textbooks in the campus library, and while these are often on the reserve shelf, spending time in the library will definitely be advantageous.

Q5: Do I feel part of a Community of Practice?

Moving from a comparatively protective school environment to Higher Education may mean that you find it hard to adapt from the start. This may unsettle you if you subconsciously feel that you are not at the same level of performance as your fellow students. The reality is that these feelings are quite normal, and that many of your classmates probably feel the same.


Solution: Talk to someone you trust about your experience and feelings. Good institutions will have academic support and counselling facilities. Having said that, some people simply just find fitting into the traditional university environment a challenge – larger classes, less rigid structure and monitoring and so forth.  If you are 100% sure that you fall into this category, and can't see yourself continuing on your current path, don't despair because there are alternatives. Especially in the private Higher Education environment there are often colleges (note that private institutions are not allowed to call themselves universities, even if they are offering the same qualifications) that offer smaller classes or campuses that may be more suitable to you. Distance learning may also be an alternative for some.

Jan 28

The first few weeks of a learner’s final school year is like a rollercoaster ride – lots of excitement, a little bit of fear and a good dose of disorientation. The start of Matric can be overwhelming, but learners would do well to get things under control as soon as possible by devising a roadmap for the months ahead, an expert says.


“Matric is a short year compared to previous school years, and before you know it, you’ll be sitting down for your final exams. The good news is that in January you still have time on your side to put in place a strategy for not only working harder than before – which you definitely should be doing – but also working smarter,” says Dr Gillian Mooney, Dean: Academic Development and Support at The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest private higher education institution.


Mooney says that in addition to the demands of preparing for the most important exam in their school careers, Grade 12s also have a plethora of once-in-a-lifetime events coming up.


“So right now you need to consider everything that will require your time and attention this year, and figure out exactly how you will make provision for all these demands.”


Mooney says taking care of the life and academic admin now, will free up precious energy allowing learners to focus on the task at hand when the time comes.


“Remember that the better you perform, the higher your chances of landing a spot in the higher education institution and programme of your choice. This will in turn have a knock-on effect on your career prospects. Competition is tough, and every mark that you can earn this year could be the difference between going the route you want right away, or having to spend more getting where you want to be,” says Mooney.


She says in the next few weeks, learners should create a single calendar incorporating all the important matters they need to attend to in the coming year, which includes the following:



Note down the dates of all the important tests and exams, and draft your study and revision timetable.


“A year sounds pretty long, but in Matric, the year is shorter and the final exams sooner than you are used to, so the best time to start revising is right away. Consistency is key, and by doing your bit every day, you won’t need to deal with a seemingly insurmountable volume of work ahead of your exams. Instead, you’ll be able to use revision time to solidify concepts and complete old papers,” says Mooney.



“While it is obviously exciting to look forward to and plan your Matric dance, 40 days-celebration and so forth, you can’t afford to spend too much time and energy on this during the year,” says Mooney.


“So note down the important dates, note down when you will take some time out to plan for them, and then let it go until the time arrives.”



On top of all the academic, social and life demands Matrics will face this year, they also need to decide what they are going to do after school.


“The world of work today looks completely different to the way it looked when your parents, guardians and teachers left school, so you have to do your own research. New jobs are being created all the time, and by the time you finish your studies, there will be careers that we can’t even predict right now,” says Mooney.


“Leaving the decision about higher education until later, means you won’t have time to properly research your options. This is why we suggest learners do a bit of work on their future plans every week, so that they can thoroughly investigate what is on offer at both public universities and private, by doing online research, visiting campuses, and speaking to people who work in their prospective fields or who have studied at one of the institutions on their shortlist.”


If learners timeously narrow down their options, they can avoid the rush when everyone else wakes up.



Sport and cultural activities, volunteering and part-time work are important for maintaining balance in your Matric year, but can take up a lot of time. Try not to add more to your plate this year. Take these activities into account in your start-of-year planning, and if you find yourself too squeezed for time later, consider lightening the load on your schedule.



Many learners will turn 18 during their Matric year, which means there is some additional life admin to be done. For instance, those who turn 18 before the country’s general elections in May, need to ensure that their ID is in order and that they are registered to vote if they intend to do so. Some may also wish to obtain their Driver’s Licence, which means some time needs to be factored in for lessons and the actual test.


“Think about which other issues you want or need to sort out this year, and note that down in your year-at-a-glance calendar as well,” says Mooney.



“When you look back at your school career, make the memory one of having taken charge of your future on the cusp of adulthood. Too many learners arrive in Matric and think they’ve reached the finishing line. What will set you apart from your peers – when applying for further study and applying for your first position, when Matric marks are still very important – is if you resolve to keep your head in the game now,” says Mooney.


“There is a lot to be said for choosing an approach of delayed gratification during this year. If you use your time wisely and maturely, you will be able to both enjoy this significant period in your life, as well as optimally position yourself for future success.”

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