A critical examination of the graduate assistant scholarship programme at Technikon Natal as a staff development mechanism.
This exploratory case study investigated the Graduate Assistant (GA) Scholarship Programme at Technikon Natal (TN) as a staff development mechanism. Although GA programmes are not a new concept and have been used internationally for decades as a means to develop academic staff, the programme at TN has some differences. This programme was initiated to address the development of young Black, and in the main African, academics in order to assist with meeting future employment equity requirements. The programme in its simplest form offers the GA the opportunity to gain teaching experience while studying for a post graduate qualification. Between 1995 and 2000, fifty GAs were involved in the programme at TN, with the majority of GAs studying at the BTech qualification level. This case study identified the juxtaposition of two perspectives of influence, those of the institutional and the individual issues. The institutional issues identified were categorised into policy and procedural issues and the individual issues focused on staff development and mentorship issues. Although the findings cannot be generalised, significant issues have been identified which could prove of value to a wider audience. In addition to developing Black academics, the programme makes a significant contribution to increasing the achievement of higher qualifications from the technikon sector. This is desirable in order to produce the technological foundation for South Africa's future economy. The study identified great potential in the GAs and in the community at TN who have embraced this opportunity to develop young academics of the future. Although there are a number of issues to be addressed, the key stakeholders of this study; the GAs and their Heads of Departments, are well supported by the management and relevant units at TN.