Call for applications for 2017-2018

The Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning at Rhodes University invites applications for a two-year, part-time Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education for Academic Developers (2017 – 2018).

Purpose of the qualification

The aim of this qualification, registered on the NQF at honours level, is to enhance the knowledge and competencies of staff in Teaching and Learning units/centres whose role it is to offer professional development for academic staff as educators in higher education institutions.

Shifts in higher education around massification, globalisation and the discourse of ‘high skills’ have brought a changed workplace for academics and academic developers in which they have to negotiate new expectations and identities. These international changes have particular nuances in the South African context where historical disadvantage, social justice, transformation and calls for decolonisation need to be addressed. This course aims to contribute towards academic developers’ ability to respond to these challenges and to meet the teaching and learning needs of the students and academics in their contexts.

Due to the current low pass rate of the increasingly diverse South African higher education student body it has become crucial to ensure greater success for more students. To achieve this, professional development for academic staff is a priority for the sector.

The purpose of this PGDip (HE) is to advance academic developers’ knowledge of higher education as a field of study and to enable them to conceptualise, design and implement formal and informal academic development initiatives (with a particular focus on academic staff development) appropriate to their specific contexts.

After engagement with the course processes and materials, participants should:

  • be able to analyse the higher education context (at international, national, institutional, departmental and disciplinary levels) in order to understand the developmental needs of academic staff in a transforming HE context
  • develop an understanding of the university as an academic workplace and as a community of practice
  • develop in-depth knowledge of the conceptual domain of teaching and learning in higher education, including the ‘philosophy’ of higher education, theories of learning (and teaching), theories of knowledge, social theories
  • engage with knowledge and research related to the practice of teaching in higher education including curriculum development processes, assessment of student learning and academic literacy
  • engage with the theory, research and practice related to the development, enhancement and assurance of quality teaching and learning in higher education
  • develop the strategic competence to know how, when and where to engage with academic staff and to understand theories of change
  • develop a philosophy to underpin the conceptualisation and implementation of staff development initiatives appropriate to their institutional contexts
  • develop expertise to facilitate, manage and assess academics’ professional learning.

Admission requirements

  1. Applicants need to be currently employed in academic development or teaching and learning centres or hold positions in which they have responsibility for the strategic development of teaching and learning in a faculty or across an institution.
  2. Applicants should preferably hold at least a masters degree (in any discipline).
  3. Applicants should be computer literate and have reliable access to the Internet to ensure access to the on-line Learning Management System used to support teaching and learning in the course.

Structure of the course

In order to obtain the qualification participants are required to meet the outcomes of six compulsory modules (20 credits each).

  1. The higher education context
  2. Teaching and learning
  3. Curriculum development
  4. Assessment of student learning
  5. Development, enhancement and assurance of quality teaching and learning
  6. Conceptualising and designing contextually appropriate staff development initiatives

Assessment of the course

Participants will be required to complete module tasks as well as an integrated final assignment which will require them to document the design and implementation strategies for staff development initiatives for their institution. This assignment will include inter alia discussion of theories and principles underpinning the proposed initiatives.

Time commitment

Participants are required to attend at least six one week block contact sessions at Rhodes University over the two years.

Contact time is supplemented through the use of ‘RUconnected’ – an on-line Learning Management System (LMS).  Using the LMS, participants will be required to engage in course processes and submit tasks between block contact sessions. Contact time to independent learning has been estimated as 1:4.


Tuition fees will be approximately R14000.00 per year. Additional costs will include initial application fees (approximately R100) and cost of materials approximately R500 per year. A non-refundable fee of R700 is payable on acceptance of an academic place at Rhodes University and is later credited to your student account. These are the current fees. They may be increased by up to 10% next year.

Application processes

Prospective candidates are required to complete two application forms which can be found below:


Please complete these and send them to Nozi Fihlani ( There is no cost attached to this initial application process. Once candidates have been notified of successful selection by advisory board they will be required to complete further application forms through Rhodes University’s Registrar’s Division. Normal application and acceptance costs are then payable (see the Rhodes University Fees Booklet for further information).

Closing date for applications: 14 October 2016

For further information please contact Dr Jo-Anne Vorster or Prof Lynn Quinn


Phone: 046 603 7390/7391
Fax: 046 603 7352