Rhodes University running a successful nGAP programme

Dr Amanda Hlengwa standing with the nGAP academics
Dr Amanda Hlengwa standing with the nGAP academics

The New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP) is Department of Higher Education’s national initiative forming part of the Staffing South Africa University Framework. This is a six-year programme where successful applicants are appointed in permanent academic posts, with a flexible workload of 20% to 50% in year three and four respectively with the remaining years increased to 100% academic load.

Universities are required to place national advertisements for nGAP posts and for each cohort the calibre of the applicants that Rhodes University receives is enviable. The nGAP has become a flagship of early career recruitment strategy for Rhodes University. The programme is situated in the Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning managed expertly by Dr Amanda Hlengwa. She points out that lecturers on nGAP have a significant contribution to the transformation goals of the institution of ensuring that the academic staff demographics of the institution mirrors the changed student demographics.

In 2020 Rhodes University welcomed the fifth cohort of lecturers bringing the total on campus to 20 from 19 disciplines across five Faculties. She explained that the application process is fiercely competitive and each cohort boasts at least one Rhodes Alumnus.

Among the current fifth cohort is an old Rhodian and former Student Representative Council Chairperson, Thabang Moleko, a Rhodes Business School Lecturer. Thabang has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Rhodes University and Masters in Business Administration from Nelson Mandela University. He has a vast experience in banking, property and marketing. “Coming back to Rhodes University is a little bit surreal especially the fact that the Business School is just next to my old residence,” he said. Thabang remarked on the impressive progress of transformation taking place at Rhodes University.

Alyssa Williams, also an old Rhodian and Abe Bailey Fellow, completed her Bachelor of Social Science, two Honours degrees with distinctions in Management and Information Systems, respectively, and a Master of Commerce in Management. Alyssa talks excitedly about being a Rhodes University academic “I grew up being told that knowledge is something that can never be taken away from me. For this reason, I will continue to learn and, I am so thankful that I can now be a part of transferring the knowledge I have gained unto others. This programme is extraordinary as it sets us up with the tools to succeed. However, there was a slight amount of anxiousness at first as I was moving from being a student at my department to a staff member.”  

Dr Hlengwa has observed that although it is expected that early career academics experience a period of navigating the transition from student identity to staff identity, there is an added layer for old Rhodians.  She said the advantage is that old Rhodians are familiar with the context however the familiarity is from a student perspective and not as a staff member. “The department and the new lecturer have to adjust into a collegial relationship and that can take some time to settle into,” she said.  Dr Hlengwa believes firmly that lecturers on the nGAP have a remarkable academic future ahead, poised to take up various academic leadership in the institution and in their fields.