Posted by Connie R. Aponte on December 15, 2013 in Critical inquiry |


The misconceptions about Communication and the negativities from colleagues as well as the teaching strategies of Communication lecturers only partially describe the situation at CPUT. The failure of these courses to adequately address the soft skills deficiencies that South African students bring to the university can also be blamed on the university is immediate interests and the “absence of any systematic effort to understand itself, at least from an educational point of view” (Barnett 1990: 3). The university is constantly haunted by the oppositional co-dependencies- quality education and high throughputs rates.

Although quality is the buzzword in the university’s mission and vision statements, its obsession with increasing the throughput rates sometimes undermines the very essence of quality education.

“…There is too much emphasis on throughput rate rather that imparting knowledge.

This seriously affects teaching and assessments. When we focus too much on pass rates, it affects the quality of the tuition. Poor attendance and lack of interest in Communication is still a challenge to us. Also we are still receiving negative feedback from industry. Furthermore, the cognitive skills of our students are too weak and we cannot address this problem within during the notional hours allocated for communication… (Lecturer response)”

“… We are always under a lot of pressure produce results but we are not provided with the resources. At CPUT, the focus seems to be about pass rates rather than on the quality of tuition and this affects the way we teach Communication. (Lecturer response)”

The emphasis on high pass rates is propelled by the fact that the “South African government funding of higher education institutions is based on student throughput, as opposed to intake numbers” (Ng’ambi & Johnston 2006: 244). By contrast, the massification of universities today cannot guarantee an increased in pass rate. Instead it puts immeasurable pressure on the university resources (Barnett, 1990; N’gambi & Johnston, 2006). In the case of CPUT, this is simply one edge of a sharp knife. As a university of technology, it is also mandated to produce graduates for the critical skills shortage in the new South Africa. This locates the university within the ambits of the “new vision of universities as transnational business corporations operating in a competitive global knowledge economy” (Shore 2010:15).

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