The Umthombo Centre for Student Success is the result of a merger between the Education Development Unit (EDU) and the Student Support and Engagement Unit in the Humanities Faculty. The aim of the new, merged unit is to provide holistic student support across the Humanities Faculty, from 1st year all the way through to PhD studies.

The history of the EDU dates back to the early 1980s when, despite Apartheid restrictions, a few Black students were admitted to the University of Cape Town (UCT). Owing to the students’ poor schooling under the Bantu Education system and their subsequent under-preparedness, the Academic Support Programme (ASP) was set up to provide them with additional support through add-on foundation courses and tutorial programmes.

In 1993, the ASP was turned into the Academic Development Programme (ADP), which aimed to shift the focus to more systemic solutions. Extended Degree Programmes came into being during that period and brought together foundation courses in students’ now extended mainstream programmes. In 1997, the White Paper for the Transformation of Higher Education was released, guaranteeing funding for AD work in the name of equity and redress.

When the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED) was established in 2000, the ADP found a new home. Programmes designed by the ADP under CHED had a developmental thrust and there was a shift from the deficit model of student learning to a generative one that factored in students’ psycho-social needs and other adaptation issues. Gradually, the ADP nested itself in different faculties and Education Development Units (EDUs) were established to oversee the provision of Extended Degree Programmes to students within those faculties.

In the Humanities, Extended Degrees were offered from 2005. In 2013, the Faculty of Humanities established its own Education Development Unit (EDU). Two foundation courses were on offer:

•    Working with Concepts in the Social Sciences
•    Working with Texts in the Humanities

These courses aimed to provide students with the requisite critical analytical tools to engage with concepts and texts in their mainstream courses. Care was taken to align the skills and content to what was covered in the latter courses. More courses have now been added, as detailed elsewhere on this site. At present, those enrolled in Extended Degrees are students in the equity categories whose NSC and NBT scores suggest that although they do not meet the Faculty’s open entrance criteria, they have the potential to succeed with additional academic interventions.

In the second semester, the ED programme is also opened to mainstream students with unsatisfactory first semester results, giving them four years to complete their degrees.