South Africa’s growing economy requires more scientists in fields like agriculture, medicine, engineering and veterinary science. However, the number of students entering science and science based faculties at university is small. The main reason is that many interested students don’t meet the normal entry requirements for science programmes.
To tackle this problem, in 2008, the University of Pretoria implemented a flagship programme, the BSc Four-year Programme. It provides a gateway into science and science-based degree programmes for students who would otherwise not have been admitted into main stream degree programmes. It is a combination of the best elements of the old Extended Programme and the Foundation-year Programme (UPFY).
This Programme has lower entrance requirements and is designed so that students who are not academically prepared, but who are willing to work hard can succeed and obtain their degrees.
As from 2012, the Four-year Programmes will expand to give students who are interested in a career in Information Technology, Computer Science, Multimedia as well as Commerce, but do not meet the normal admission requirements, an opportunity to further their studies.
Features of the BSc Four-year Programme
The Programme has two phases. During the first phase, which lasts 18 months (3 semesters), students are trained and developed academically and psychologically for further studies. They then continue their studies in the second phase where they join students in the normal three-year BSc programmes.
Students can specialise in one of four fields: Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences, Biological and Agricultural Sciences.
In the first phase the academic content is delivered at a pace that is slower than in the normal programmes so that students have more time to engage with the subject content and develop a deep understanding of the material. During the three semesters of phase 1 the pace will be increased gradually. By the time students have completed the first phase they should be able to work at the normal speed required of university students.
There are extra modules and support to help students to cope at university. These are language and study skills courses (focusing on the use of language in science), career guidance and counselling.
Most of the teaching and learning takes place in smaller groups. This allows individual attention and gives ample opportunity for questions and discussion.
In addition to small classes, students also attend lectures in large groups where the teaching style is more formal. This is excellent preparation for the second phase of the Programme.
A variety of methods are used to deliver subject content to remedy possible gaps in school knowledge. The programme focuses on understanding and develops critical thinking skills as well as the practical skills needed to continue with the subject.
Progress is assessed continuously. Throughout the year students have to meet certain levels of academic performance. Failing to do so will mean that students are not allowed to continue in the Programme.
The Programme is offered in English only. The Programme supports the development of language skills in English.
The first year of study is on the Mamelodi Campus.
Are the programmes easy?
No. This is a university course and not simply a repetition of school work. Students will not be re-writing grade 12. At the end of each semester students write university examinations and receive university credits when they pass. The programme is demanding and students will be in class from early morning until late afternoon.
How and when do I apply?
Prospective students are advised to apply as soon as possible at the Client Service Centre at the University of Pretoria. The closing date for applications is 30 November.