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Business Mathematics and Informatics: a Case Study of Curriculum Restructuring at the North West University in South Africa Kees Boersma Vrije Universiteit.

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Presentation on theme: "Business Mathematics and Informatics: a Case Study of Curriculum Restructuring at the North West University in South Africa Kees Boersma Vrije Universiteit."— Presentation transcript:


2 Business Mathematics and Informatics: a Case Study of Curriculum Restructuring at the North West University in South Africa Kees Boersma Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

3 A Mutual Agreement… In reference to the joint conversations between PU and ASBA with respect to the alliance in order to start up a course on Business Mathematics and Informatics at the University and the use of it by us, we gladly want to confirm the approval by the ABSA- Committee to financially cover the estimated costs of the course. We will evaluate the collaboration after 5 years from now. (Letter from ABSA Bank to the rector of the PU, 3 February 1997; Archives of NWU).

4 Overall research question How do organizational actors implement and give meaning to ideas and policies of Higher Education in their local situation? In my approach I use theories from the fields of Science and Technology Studies, Higher Education Research and Organization Studies: - Mode2 (Gibbons), heterogeneity of HE (e.g. Rip) and the entrepreneurial university (Clark) as empirical questions, - institutionalization patterns (DiMaggio) and travelling of ideas (Czarniawska and Joerges), - sensemaking processes (Weick) in a actor-network approach (Callon and others).

5 Specific research questions Why and how did the local policymakers of the South African North West University (NWU) invent and implement Business Mathematics and Informatics (BMI), which parties became involved and how did BMI affect the research and curriculum of the faculty of Natural Sciences? - What is Business Mathematics and Informatics? - What parties became involved and how do the different relevant actors give meaning to BMI? - What is the outcome of BMI at the NWU? Co-authors of the paper: Carools Reinecke and Michael Gibbons

6 The inter-disciplinary profile Research in the context of application

7 The context: motives for implementing BMI internationally Practical: declining amount of students in mathematics, Policy: commodification of scientific activities: interrelationship between academia and industry (in a Mode 2 fashion), Processes: - standardization and modeling within disciplines, - sector-specific mathematical and statistical analysis (e.g. within the financial industry: risk analysis and the Basel regulations).

8 BMI at the North West University The NWU is the outcome of a merger: Potchefstroom campus (Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education) since In 1998 the Statute of the PUK was completely rewritten to enable the PUK to continue to fulfill its important role as part of the single, co-ordinated system of higher education in South Africa, while reserving its institutional culture of Christian higher education, based on its original foundation (website). Mafikeng campus Vaal Triangle campus

9 Campus Mafikeng Potchefstroom Vaal Triangle Total Number of students enrolled per campus These numbers are including distance students

10 Policy: NWU as a Mode 2 University Mode 2: a change instrument at the NWU

11 BMI in the context of South Africa The actors: HE policy of the South African government after the apartheid, The local policy of the NWU as a HE institute, The policy of the ABSA Bank.

12 South African GOVERNMENT ChallengePolicyResponses Nation building The rainbow-nation as the ideal (Mandela, 1994) Transformation The transformation of higher education specifically relates to redress of past inequities, to serve a new social order, to meet pressing national needs and to respond to new realities and opportunities. (Bengu, 1997). A national culture: The Constitution of South Africa, Act no 108 of *Comprehensive initiatives The production of a new comprehensive policy for higher education through an extensive process of investigation and consultation. Education White Paper 3 - A Programme for Higher Education Transformation, Government Gazette, No , of 15 August New Resources for funding HE institutes The implementation of a new funding framework for the allocation of subsidy to institutions. Directed resources are made available for niche areas as defined in programmes like THRIP (Bok Marais)

13 North West UNIVERSITY ChallengePolicyResponses Regulation of higher education The act includes a preamble of 10 intensions, of which one intention encourages institutions to respond to the human resource, economic and developmental needs of the Republic. Merger The Minister of Education 2002 amends section 23(1) of the higher education act to enable him to merge institutions of higher education. NWU is the outcome of a merger. * Statute of the PU The Council of the PU approved a new statute for the University to comply with the requirements of the new higher education act. * Decision of the Council PU's Council decided on 27 June 2002 to accept in principle the unavoidability of the merger with UNE, but then with other modalities and different timeframes than those appearing in the notices. * Vision and strategy A new vision statement and strategic plan was developed and implemented. Reference to quality, the entrepreneurial approach and societal responsiveness. Focus Areas for advanced education and research including BMI. Unity in diversity The physical size, stage of development and educational offerings of the components of the merged institutions differ(ed) extensively.

14 Processes: BMI at the NWU Declining amount of students at the Faculty of Natural Sciences Institutionalization: BMI at NWU as part of an international network: - Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (inspirator), - Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (benchmark). Local networks: relations with the ABSA bank, BMI as a new Focus Area.

15 ABSA BANK ChallengePolicyResponses National regulation Diversification of the employees (due to the 1997 South African Labour Relations Act and the Bill on Employment Equity) International regulation The Basel accords contain fundamental innovations to introduce greater risk sensitivity into the accord. Amalgamation Leaders at the parochial banks in the South Africa of the beginning 1990s realized that size is the name in modern banking. The leaders took the road of amalgamation of small banks, which became Amalgamated Banks of South Africa (ABSA). * Financial risk management Risk management may be defined as the process of protecting ones person or organization intact in terms of assets and income directed by quantitative financial models. A Centre for BMI The initiative of PUCHE to direct the focus in its mathematical and IT academics towards BMI opened a unique opportunity for ABSA to get important risk-related topics researched, as well as securing the appointment of new experts in this field. The centre is another possible means to meet the governments demand to hire more black employees.

16 The center BMI at the NWU

17 The growth of student numbers

18 Client organiza tion # Students per Year Total # ABSA (52%) Other Banks (28%) Other Comp (20%) TOTAL (100%)

19 Distribution of alumni of the Centre for BWI

20 Research: A comparison between the publication output by the BMI Focus Area for the period (triangle to the left) and the period (triangle to the right). The numbers at the bottom of the triangles indicate the total publication output. The publications purely in the fields of business sciences (B), mathematical sciences (M) or information sciences (I) were counted, and placed in the circles at the respective B, M or I corners.

21 Discussion: heterogeneity at BMI and NWU!? Two major problems: 1)BMI is very much dependent on the cooperation with the financial industry (esp. ABSA), 2)The NWU still struggles with the past.

22 Business orientation at NWU/BMI More News about the Centre ( BMI Research results in the founding of a new company [Read more ]Read more Bond Exchange of SA and Centre for BMI sign memorandum of understanding. [Read more]Read more Prof. PJ de Jogh place a leading roll in the establishment of the GARP Executive Committee of SA. [Read more]Read more Professor Machiel Kruger associated with the Centre for BMI, who win the 2005 SAS Academic Intelligence Award - developed a Sudoku Puzzle-solver using SAS. [Read more]Read more Professor Dawie de Jongh on the Editorial Board of GARP Digital Library. [Read more]Read more Absa signs two contracts with NWU's Centre for BMI. [Read more]Read more

23 NWU in the context of South Africa This NWU innovation, further, takes places within a highly racialised university community that remains deeply divided and in which the knowledge roots of the institution (and that is what it is) continues to observe deeply held Christian National beliefs, epistemologies and practices; to think that a business-oriented mathematics program in such a context would suddenly render liberating outcomes on matters of equity and diversity is, quite frankly, naive. A remark of a reviewer to an earlier version.

24 Discussion and conclusion Mode 2 as a policy instrument and as a sensitizing concept, BMI is the outcome of a balancing act: - mathematic research and education became more heterogeneous but also focussed on the financial sector, - conserving the own identity at Potchefstroom and the pressure towards the integration of three campuses, The outcome of BMI: ABSAdized scholarship at the NWU Centre for BMI, NWU (should) enrich the academic portfolio in more heterogeneous ways (Rip).

25 Number of students enrolled per race at NWU Race Asian Black Coloured White Other Total

26 Number of students enrolled per race at Mafikeng Race Asian Black Coloured White Other Total

27 Number of students enrolled per race at Potchefstroom Race Asian White Coloured Black Other Total

28 Number of students enrolled per race at Vaal Triangle Race Asian White Coloured Black Other Total

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