REPORT ON REVIEW OF UNDERGRADUATE PHYSICS EDUCATION IN PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS
The project leading to the creation of the report arose because the heads of Physics Departments of South African Universities identified a crisis in the education pipeline. We felt starting with a Benchmarking process and a Review leading to Recommendations would be an appropriate first step where we can be effective. The SAIP partnered with the Council on Higher Education (CHE) to conduct the Review. Our challenge is now to implement as many of the Recommendations as we can. The current growth phase in Physics in South Africa began a decade ago with a similar review of the Research environment. We have every expectation that we will ultimately see a similar improvement in the capacity development issues following this review.
Prof Simon Connell, the immediate Past-President of SAIP “In South Africa, although we are developing country, the last decade has seen dramatic improvements in the Science System. Specifically, there is an unprecedented improvement in the health of the discipline of physics which is on a new growth trajectory. The award of the SKA site decision is just one aspect of this positive trend. We see increased scholarly output, very much improved access to local and international large scale research infrastructure and the modernization of local research laboratories and other research infrastructure. Linkages within South Africa and globally between academics are well established, and there is a particularly good rapport with the Department of Science and Technology. The main threat to the sustainability of the positive trend is education pipeline. This is now the most crucial point to be addressed. Review of Undergraduate Physics Education in Public Higher Education Institutions is one of the components of a new plan from within our discipline to be part of the solution.”
REVIEW OF PHYSICS TRAINING IN SOUTH AFRICA
Following a request from a meeting of physics heads of departments held in July 2008, the SAIP council begun working on the project “Review of Physics Training in South Africa”. In the process of identifying stakeholders and partners to the “Review of Physics Project”, the SAIP indentified the Council on Higher Education (CHE) as a critical partner.
The mandate of CHE includes the following
· To promote quality assurance in higher education
· To audit the quality assurance mechanisms of institutions of higher education
· To accredit programmes of higher education
· To generate and set standards for all higher education qualifications
- SAIP Project Chairperson: Prof Edmund Zingu
- CHE Project Leader: Prof Rehana Valley
Strategy on Improving Physics Training in South Africa
The above process has resulted in the developement of a strategy for iimproving physics training in South Africa.