At the annual South African Commerce Deans Association (SACDA) meeting hosted by MUT from 6-7 June 2019, Commerce Deans from the 26 higher education institutions in South Africa discussed issues at their respective institutions. Some of these issues are language challenges, Work Integrated Learning (WIL), staff retention strategies, finance estimates of programmes, extended curriculum programmes and higher certificates, delays in the accreditation of programmes, ethical clearance for research, and identification of graduates, among others.
The meeting also highlighted the role of technology in the higher education sector. In his presentation on the 4th Industrial Revolution, Barry Vorster, a Partner at PWC on Advisory Services, highlighted eight areas that needed attention. These were artificial intelligence, augmented reality, blockchain, drones, internet of things, robotics, virtual reality, and 3D Printing. He stressed how we can together shape future reality by reimagining the possible.
Business-related issues within the sector were also under the spotlight. The Services SETA conceptualised a Programme of Action for establishing a national Entrepreneurship and Cooperative Development institute (ECDi). The Programme of Action will seek to close critical supply-side gaps for scaled impact and services to entrepreneurs, as well as small and growing businesses.
The meeting adopted the Research and Dialogues as one of nine adopted programmes, with engendering ongoing ecosystem dialogue that informs policy formulation and programme design and implementation as one of its objectives. The strategic activity through which to achieve this dialogue is establishing Communities of Practice across various disciplines. The purpose of establishing Communities of Practice is to create a common learning space for expert practitioners and policymakers to connect, share and engage about models, practices and experiences. Through these engagements, Communities of Practice generate knowledge, foster innovation and improve policy and services for business development.