On 31 August 2017, the ECP Unit at Fundani hosted colleagues from the Access Programmes of the Academic Development Centre at the University of Johannesburg. A special dialogue session was facilitated to enable colleagues to firstly, describe and explain how extended and foundational programmes are operationalised at both institutions and then, engage in more collaborative group discussions about the central themes involved in supporting ECPs.
The delegation from UJ was headed by Maxine Shandler, who is the Head of Access Programmes and she provided an interesting account of how the university operates both a centralised and decentralised or faculty-based model of extended provision across their institution. While the university has adopted a rather complex approach to managing their extended programmes the work of the Access Programme is strongly informed by the theoretical inputs derived from of Invitational Education, First Year Experience and Academic development. Their programmes have enjoyed much success across the university and have been able to counter the stigmatisation often experienced by ECP students. James Garraway, Head of the ECP Unit at CPUT started off the institutional presentation by sketching some of the successes achieved as a result of extended provisions, but also pointed out the continuing fracture points that challenge the ECP project both at CPUT and nationally. Individual faculty and departmental presentations were then made by select ECP co-ordinators and these highlighted the work of ECP across CPUT.
Most of the joint session was however, taken up by group dialogue discussions. During these round-table groups colleagues from both institutions were able to discuss and seek understanding about some of the core areas associated with ECP and foundational provisions at universities; namely, Classroom Practices, Administration and Policy, Students Development and Staff Development. These discussions yielded some insightful commentary on each of these themes, highlighted ongoing tensions and challenges and also identified good practices at both institutions. Some suggestion made regarding how to solidify inter-institutional collaboration and dialogue include; exchange programmes for extended curriculum staff at both institutions – to encourage better understanding of how ECPs are managed and opportunities for staff to teach in a different institutional context and longer institutional visits.