Stakeholders' perceptions of the role of student affairs in university education at Midlands State University (MSU).
This study sought to determine what university stakeholders see as the role of the division of student affairs in university education. 20 participants were drawn as follows: 5 students; 5 lecturers; 5 administration and senior management staff; and 5 student affairs staff. Recorded open-ended interviews were used as the data collection instrument in this qualitative research using the interpretive social science as a paradigm. Categorisation and coding of data centred on Blimling’s (2001) communities of practice in student affairs. The ‘Other’ category was added to cater for any other responses which did not fall within the espoused four communities of practice in student affairs by Blimling. Thematic and content analysis was employed in addition to the Lacey and Luff’s (2001) stages in the analysis of qualitative data. The study used both the first-order and second-order interpretations in assigning significance. This study revealed that the division of student affairs is perceived as primarily responsible for provision of student services - a non-academic, non-complementary yet supplementary role to the teaching of students in a university. Secondly, student affairs is also perceived as responsible for student development programmes targeting the growth of the ‘person’ in the student amid concerns, though, that this tends to be haphazard hence risks being branded ‘a secondary thing’ that requires less human and material resources. In the main, this study recommends that all units of the university operation must collaborate in so far as the total learning and development of a student into a responsible and meaningful citizen is concerned. As faculty does much of this role in the lecture room, so does the division of student affairs outside the classroom. However, the latter is challenged to develop planned scholarship in an outcomes based education (OBE) fashion. Finally, it is also recommended that universities recognise, reward and award students’ achievement out of class by any means necessary if not by way of another transcript that reveals the student’s learning and development out of class. It has been claimed that more than 90% of what a student learns takes place outside the lecture room.