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Top marks for UJ, North-West University remote learning

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The University of Johannesburg (UJ) and North-West University have both notched up a high ranking when it comes to local universities’ efforts to enable remote learning.

This is based on the findings of a survey conducted by the StuDocuhigher education edtech platform.

The annual survey, “StuDocu World University Ranking 2021”, gives university students the chance to rate their institutions on everything from academic reputation to campus safety.

The opinions and experiences of 100 000 students and recent graduates from 1 800 universities across 30 countries for the period between 21 July to 10 August are collected and compiled. Each university is ranked based on a variety of categories, utilising a scale of one to 10.

The second instalment of StuDocu’s survey features SA for the first time.

Out of SA’s 26 public universities, a total of 24 were ranked by current students and recent graduates, based on 16 categories that directly impact students and how they experience life on campus.

On the topic of remote learning, the majority of locally surveyed students ranked their universities “very highly”, according to the report.

Students were asked whether their universities offer sufficient facilities to follow classes online and whether their teachers and professors are easily contactable.

Based on their responses, UJ and North-West University came out on top, both notching up a remote learning ranking of 9.0. In contrast, University of Zululand received the lowest score of 6.7, reveals StuDocu’s survey.

“We are very excited to have been able to include South Africa in our StuDocu World University Ranking this year,” says Marnix Broer, CEO and co-founder of StuDocu. “Across the board, South African students ranked their universities highly, which is great to see, especially in regard to remote learning.

“When compared with the other countries surveyed, South Africa’s remote learning ratings compare very favourably and are very much in-line with the European and American universities in the report.”

The onset of COVID-19 saw most institutions of higher learning in the country resort to remote learning in a bid to minimise the disruptions brought by the virus.

While virtual classes on personal tablets have become the global norm, a report by the University of Cape Town last year showed that many South African students lacked access to the internet, and many rely on shared devices to learn.

However, earlier this year, a study conducted by IDC and commissioned by Dell Technologies noted how local universities ramped up their digital transformation initiatives to accommodate the increase in online learning since the outbreak of the global pandemic, and resulted in a move toward hybrid learning models.

The study’s findings also highlighted that university CIOs need to reprioritise their technology spending plans in 2021, and beyond.

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