Private Afrikaans university expecting dozens of computer science students

Solidarity’s private Afrikaans university Akademia anticipates that dozens of students will enter its recently launched BSc Computer Science programme in 2023.

Akademia first opened applications for the degree in June 2022, coinciding with the official launch of its Faculty of Natural Sciences.

The 12-year-old university uses Afrikaans as the language of instruction and was founded by the Solidarity Movement — which includes a trade union, civil rights group Afriforum, and charity organisation Helpende Hand.

The university was established in light of many public institutions doing away with Afrikaans as a teaching language in favour of English.

Between 2012 and 2022, Akademia has grown its student intake from forty to 2,350, staff from five to nearly 200, and courses from four to 17.

It offers both full-time courses at a campus in Centurion and part-time programmes with distance learning.

Akademia graduation ceremony in early 2023.

The university’s applications for 2024 are still open, and it told MyBroadband it has prepared for roughly 80 first-year and 30 second-year computer science students.

To be eligible to enrol for computer science, Akademia requires that applicants achieve a minimum of 50% for Afrikaans and 60% for mathematics in their matric year.

In addition, having Physical Sciences as a subject counts in the applicants’ favour, but it is not a requirement.

Akademia may also accept applicants with the following alternative qualifications and achievements:

  • A Certificate of Exemption as issued by Universities South Africa (USAF) if an alternative school qualification was achieved
  • A National Certificate (Vocational) Level 4 issued by Council for General and Further Education and Training with at least 60% in three fundamental subjects, including the language of learning and teaching in the higher education institution, and at least 70% in four vocational subjects
  • A Higher Certificate in an associated study field
  • An Advanced Certificate in a cognate field of study
  • A Diploma in a related field of study

Akademia’s dean of Natural Sciences, Professor Hannes Rautenbach, previously told MyBroadband that the degree is benchmarked against curricula of other leading Computer Science Departments in South Africa, including those at Stellenbosch University and the University of Pretoria.

Software Development and Data Sciences as two main focus areas

Akademia’s head of marketing and communication, Zydèlia Venter, said the programme’s purpose was to enable students to become creative and critical graduates.

Venter said there was currently big demand for computer scientists.

“The qualification is of such a nature that graduates will be nationally and internationally competent and relevant.”

“The learning plan includes mathematics and statistics, so that students are equipped for making interdisciplinary contributions.”

Akademia’s computer science students have the option of focusing on one of two fields — Software Development or Data Sciences.

Subject matter like programme management, databases, operating systems, and networks apply to both fields.

Venter said that Software Development primarily focused on activities related to developing and integrating system components including coding and databases.

Data Sciences is more focused on developing algorithms that can analyse data for decision-making, with greater emphasis on mathematics and statistics.

The programme is currently only available full-time, but Akademia is working on a part-time model for the course. It also plans to offer a BSc Honours degree in Computer Science.

In addition to computer science, Akademia’s range of accredited full-time and part-time degrees, post-graduate diplomas, and higher certificates with Afrikaans as the language of instruction include the following:

  • BCom Economics and Law, BCom Business Management, BCom Financial Management
  • BEd Intermediary Education
  • LLB
  • BSc Mathematical Sciences
  • BA Communications and Journalism
  • BSocSci Politics, Philosophy, and Economics

The university is building a larger campus with accommodation that it plans to complete by 2027. The new campus will be situated in Pretoria East and feature modern laboratory facilities, Venter said.

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Private Afrikaans university expecting dozens of computer science students