/ 26 August 2008

Thumbs up and down for UKZN

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has released a survey of almost 4 000 students who graduated last year. The survey was part of a strategic planning, budget and management exercise to improve the performance of the university as an educational institution.

The study found that more than 80% of students felt they had developed a range of analytical skills, including problem solving, written and oral communication and the ability to work as a team member.

Almost the same percentage of students (79%) felt that the standard of work was high, although 30% of students said their workload was not manageable. Only 61% of students felt they had enough time to fully understand their studies.

Releasing the survey results, the university’s vice-chancellor, Malegapuru Makgoba, acknowledged that the study had limitations. These included the fact that the survey was biased because it included information only from students able to attend their graduation ceremonies.

Almost two-thirds of the graduates questioned felt that UKZN had provided them with an environment to learn effectively. But only 65% were confident of their computer skills.

Forty percent of the students thought that cramming at exam time was all that was needed to do well, while 42% thought having a good memory was sufficient to achieve good scores.

Student assessment of staff was not altogether flattering. Sixty-four percent of students said that staff had motivated them well to learn. Fifty-six percent of students said the staff had made an effort to understand difficulties they were having with their work and worked hard to make the studies interesting. Fifty-nine percent said staff gave helpful feedback, while 57% said lecturers were extremely good at explaining things to them.

Eighty-four percent of the former students interviewed were employed on a full-time basis. Of these 64% are permanently employed. Those who had jobs relating to their direct field of study made up 83% of the sample, while 73% said their current jobs fell within their long-term career interest.

Eighty-one percent of the students felt that their university studies had adequately prepared them for the workplace.

Some of the discrepancies in the findings can be attributed to the fact that sample groups varied in size.

The university’s approach to student satisfaction is designed to achieve quality and promote fundamental academic values which are part of the institution’s vision and mission.