The University of South Africa (UNISA) is an open and distance learning (ODL) institution. All diplomas offered by the School of Engineering at UNISA include a compulsory period of Work Integrated Learning (WIL) in industry. The WIL component consists of one year’s training at an approved workplace. The Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) is the accrediting body for all engineering courses in South Africa. A student’s WIL work plan is determined according to predefined standards set by ECSA. Recently, ECSA has set new standards prescribing alternate methods of implementing WIL.
The main aim of the study is to determine how Electrical Engineering students at UNISA and the development of UNISA Electrical Engineering modules would be impacted by new ECSA standards set for WIL. It is our objective to discover how the alternate approaches to WIL may be integrated with the current Electrical Engineering tuition model at UNISA. It is also necessary to analyse student demographics in order to establish what the preferred approaches to WIL for UNISA Electrical Engineering students should be. The information will be used to identify possible challenges and opportunities.
The new standards set by ECSA with regards to what is considered to be acceptable WIL practice are investigated. The effects of these alternate methods of implementing WIL on UNISA’s current Electrical Engineering tuition model, assessment and WIL practices are explored. Changes required to be made to the aforementioned are identified. Student demographics, especially with respect to employment profile and geographical location, are statistically analysed.
Results include: UNISA Electrical Engineering student profiles; identification of ECSA prescribed WIL methods most suitable to ODL students in Electrical Engineering at UNISA; integration of ECSA approved alternate WIL approaches into UNISA’s current Electrical Engineering tuition model’, assessment and WIL practices; implementation timeline.
The opportunity to include additional types of WIL, as approved by our accrediting body, in our new qualifications will resolve some of the challenges that open and distance learning pose. Student demographics will be used as a guide to finding the most appropriate approached to WIL.
Work Integrated Learning, Electrical Engineering and Distance Learning.