Forty students from Commerce Extended Studies Programme graduated in 2014

A total of 40 undergraduate and postgraduate students from the Faculty of Commerce graduated at the 2014 Graduation ceremony. They were all from the Commerce Extended Studies Programme (CESP) and many attribute their success to the guidance and supervision they received from their lecturers and mentors. 

Twenty-six graduated with a BCom degree, five with a BCom Honours, seven with  a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education and others graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Enterprise Management.

These successes are testimony to the strong foundation laid by former and current Extended Studies staff and members of the Faculty.

Established as an alternative route to the BCom degree at Rhodes University, the CESP provides opportunities for students who show potential but are not accepted onto the BCom degree mainstream programme due to insufficient Grade 12 points, to pursue their studies. 

For Pheello Makhele, being a student on the Extended Studies Programme afforded him the opportunity to assess his strengths and weaknesses and wisely select his avenue of study.

“One great advantage of being in Extended Studies is that while you are adapting to University, you may be wise enough to assess your strengths and weaknesses in that first year, so that by the time you do the mainstream first year you have convinced yourself about what you are capable of doing. The majority of BCom students want to become Accountants and we all know what it takes to become an Accountant,” he said.

Also, the smaller classes and engagement with lecturers helped in this regard. “It was great doing CESP because all my lecturers were more than just lecturers to us. And personally for me, the most influential person in my career has been Mrs Coetzee. The way she believed in me made it difficult for me not to believe in myself,” Makhele said.

Phumeza Tshaka, of East London, is the first in her family to go to university but had all but given up hope of attending Rhodes University due to a lack of funds until a chance meeting with CESP course coordinator and lecturer Mr Oscar Eybers.

After numerous unsuccessful attempts at securing funds, Tshaka heard about the CESP and opportunities it afforded. According to Tshaka, “it was through this man’s tireless efforts, things started looking up, he managed to help with sorting out the difficultly I had with my fees and I finally got in at Rhodes a week before academics started and registered as an undergraduate in the commerce extended studies, and all of this was from a little miracle at the hiking spot down town.”

She said she found her first year very challenging, coming straight from high school and entering a completely different system, “whereby you are basically responsible for your own well-being, academically and socially; failing tests and your assignments and making new friends which was something foreign until I got here,” but the CESP assisted in various areas.

“University is different from high school and presents a lot of challenges both good and bad, if your knowledge falls short seek help, it does not make you stupid because if you were stupid you would not be here in the first place, engage yourself with things that happen in and around you and lastly remember why and what you came here for,” Tshaka said.

Students who are admitted to the programme, usually a maximum of 50 per year, normally would not have been granted admission to Rhodes University due to insufficient points but the university recognizes that not all students emerge from homes, schools or social contexts which encourage preparation for higher education. According to Mr Oscar Eybers, course coordinator and lecturer at Rhodes, “the university sees potential in CESP students which will enable them to succeed and ultimately attain their degrees.”

The CESP is characterised by three course types including extended, augmented and fully-foundational. With regards to extended courses (Accounting and Theory of Finance), the length which a student engages this discipline is doubled, contrasted with the normal “mainstream” equivalent. With augmented courses (Management and Economics), CESP students attend “mainstream” lectures but receive supplemental instruction from within the CESP.

By Sarah-Jane Bradfield

First published in the Special Graduation Rhodos Edition click here