Dear Enquirers of the second Intake of the Master's in Development Practice (MDP) and other interested Parties!
This information (23rd Feb 2011) reaches you from CATIE in Costa Rica where representatives from all the MDP universities worldwide have their annual summit/meeting to discuss MDP matters of common interest. In the past week we at UB also just concluded the second of eight residential modules for the first MDP cohort at the University of Botswana (UB) and we thought we should assemble some information to give you a better feel of how our particular MDP programme has worked so far, together with actual timetables and feedback we received from our ‘cohort one’ participants. My name is Ulli Schmitt, Professor at UB and Dean of UB’s School of Graduate Studies, and the information following below will add more texture to the other MDP pages on this site.
How does the modular format may benefit participants?
As you know, UB's MDP programme is the only in the MDP network to run in modular mode. This format has been chosen to enable professionals outside the Gaborone's catchment area to participate. Having incorporated all equivalent face-to-face hours of the full-time programmes (none is substituted by distance or online studies), we require 21 intensive residential weeks (instead of 4 full-time semesters) to deliver the MDP programme, distributed as eight 2/3-week modules over a time period of 28 months. Thus, our MDP concept aims on minimizing the days-off-work as well as the number of trips required to attend the residential block modules. This arrangement will make it easier for employers to support their staff members in attending the MDP programme with educational leave and/or financially (in fact, the MDP programme from the supporting organisation’s point provides a tool for staff recruitment, development, and retention). By the way, the compulsory research project/thesis can be entirely done within the employing/sponsoring organisation.
How do the programme schedule and the participants' workload will look like?
There is a period of 2 to 3 months between the eight modules where participants will continue to work in their organisation; however, every participant is expected to finalise assignments from the previous module, prepare for the upcoming module via readings and assignments, prepare for upcoming individual and group presentations, and take part in team-oriented exercises (e.g. management simulation game). This will require around 10 hours weekly of their time during the off-campus periods; these activities are supported via online access to UB’s MDP intranet sites based on the Google Apps for Education platform.
Does it make sense to do the programme full-time?
To admit applicants to the MDP programme, we require them to have some prior professional experience (see brochure). However, it is not compulsory to be fully employed during the programme. The modular concept only adds a few months to the overall duration compared to all the other full-time MDPs, so, applicants wishing to concentrate fully on the programme are welcome. However, no MDP-specific scholarships are currently available to cover costs of living and/or tuition.
I would like to attend as a visiting student to transfer MDP credits earned to another graduate qualification!
Students from other MDP universities, international postgraduate students pursuing relevant other graduate programmes, or volunteers operating in the region wishing to gain credits prior to taking up Master studies after returning to their home countries are welcome to participate in any part of UB’s MDP programme. Any of the eight 2/3-week intensive modules is self-contained and provides between 8 and 12 ECTS credits (European Credit Transfer System). Spaces of these modules can be booked at short notice via the web site (available in second half of 2011) if available (provided visiting module applicants are meeting the MDP entry requirements). We are currently finalising the self-assessment documentation for the upcoming auditing visit and the subsequent accreditation with a European accreditation agency (see www.fibaa.org), so the quality assured credits of UB’s MDP will be a universally accepted currency by other tertiary educations (provided the contents chosen with us fits your programme). This way, UB not only provides convenient access and attractive contents, but also sets the stage for worldwide recognitionWhat can be said about the first MDP Cohort’s background?
Last year after a very short advertising campaign, we received around 35 applications from six countries, admitted 26, and started the programme in October 2010 with 11 students attending. The current cohort profile: Botswana (8), Zambia (1), Zimbabwe (1), USA (1); female (7), male (4); average age: 37 years; average professional experience: >10 years; prior tertiary background: Bachelor Accounting (2), Agricultural Science, Arts (2), Business Administration (2), Humanities, Information Systems Development, Nursing, Nutrition; Master in Agricultural Science, Education, Food Science, HIV/Aids, Management; Certified Fraud Examiner. The professional experience covert by the current participants matches their educational background. Some of the candidates admitted deferred and will join the second cohort later this year (maximum size of a cohort is around 24 participants).
What can be said about the first MDP Cohort’s experience so far?
Being admitted in July 2010, each participant immediately gained access to the MDP cohort intranet site, keeping them up-to-date with MDP developments, registration and payment processes, introducing them to their fellow cohort colleagues and providing them with a repository of all emails and documents emailed to them. After proof of electronic transfer of module fee payment (8-10 weeks prior to residential delivery), access to upcoming module’s intranet sites is granted to proceed with the required preparation. At this time in the future, any of the module’s vacancies will be advertised on the web site on a first-come/admitted/paid/served basis. Our assumption is that visiting students are not fully employed, so that they do not face time constraints in catching up with our usually fully employed modular students in regard to the preparations required.
Students of the first MDP cohort commenced with preparations from early September 2010 and visited UB’s Gaborone Campus for their first Module ‘Systems Thinking & Methodologies’ for two weeks in November (1.11.-13.11.2010) and their second module ‘Fundamentals of Development Practice’ for three weeks in February (31.1.-19.02.2011). In between the first two modules, the cohort formed three teams to battle it out over six weekly periods in a management simulation game. Please see images and attachments for actual time tables and Field Project Visits undertaken. [The picture shows nine of the eleven MDP students during the recent field project visit to the Rotary Club of Gaborone].
What do the MDP Cohort One participants have to say about the programme?
Well, we asked them during their last day of their recent second module to voice their opinions, so far. An image and the attachment contains the summary of their verdict based on a 100% response rate (anonymously submitted) of the 10 students attending the second module. The scale applied is: 7 perfect, 6 very good, 5 good, 4 satisfactory, 3 sufficient, 2 deficient, and 1 unacceptable. The average of all 724 individual evaluations is 5.8 (very good) with 25% evaluations being ‘7-excellent’, 41% ‘6-very good’, 27% ‘5-good’, 8% ‘4-satisfactory’, and 2% ‘3-sufficient’ (no twos or ones).
The charts summarise: the rankings of the most (least) satisfied of the 10 students averaged on 6.6 (5.2); the average marks given to the top (bottom) of the 7 lectures delivered are 6.1 (5.6); the top ranked criteria being ‘Reliability’ (6.4) and ‘Background’, ‘Experience’, ‘Suitability’, ‘Friendliness’, ‘Ability to motivate’ and ‘Presentation’ all averaging at ‘6-very good’. The perceived learning outcomes by the participants also suggests that the delivery fully meets our MDP objectives resulting in a well-balanced support of Bloom’s six Knowledge Dimensions extended by the four areas of Self-Learning and Organising, Presentation, Team and Intercultural Management Skills.
How did the students of the first MDP cohort perform so far?
The results of the students (first module) resulted in 10 students passing (minimum 55%) and one with still carrying incomplete assignments. The lecturers’ verdicts resulted in 10 As, 18 Bs, 3 Cs, and no fails for the individual three courses of the first module.
How do UB’s MDP fees compare nationally and internationally?
Although so unique in its concept, UB’s MDP is at the low end of fees compared with other institutions in the MDP network. For a Master programme, the MD is very comprehensive and entails a minimum of 125 credits (with 25 workload hours per credit compliant with the European Credit Transfer System ECTS; US and SADC equivalents are documented on the web site). Six more credits apply for the optional six-week field training programme at our Okavango Research Institute in Maun (substitute for the 300 hour individual MDP placement).
UB allocates the credit fee of its MBA programme (currently offered in full/part-time but also in modular mode) amounting to 817 BWP (Botswana Pula; 7BWP = ~1US$) for students with SADC* passports, and 1,226 BWP for international students with non-SADC* passports. Fees are only covering tuition and will go up in the academic year 2011/12 by 15%. See UB’s downloadable undergraduate UB calendar covering all fees for tuition and services.
Although very competitively priced in relation to the MDP network partner (up to 100,000 US$ full-time), the MDP is comparatively more expensive in regard to other UB graduate programmes which reflects the need to make it financially sustainable in light of substantially more credits as well as of our commitment for modularisation, small and diverse cohorts, and international accreditation of our MDP.
* Botswana hosts the Secretariat of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) which covers the following countries: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
What if I cannot afford the full programme or my employer does not want to commit to the full sponsorship?
The MDP brochure and the web site show that the MDP programme incorporates a Postgraduate Diploma and Postgraduate Certificates, covering subsets of the whole programme with qualification names different from the ‘Development Practice’ qualifier. Our MDP schedule also takes into account that participants might have to be on an urgent professional mission and not being able to attend a particular module. We strongly encourage starting with the first module ‘Systems Thinking & Methodologies’ since it is the pre-requisite to commence with the research project at any time, but each of the later modules concentrate on particular issues (Economics, Agriculture, Health, Education, Knowledge Society, Engineering, and Environment) and can be taken in other orders than the suggested fastest way. Participants will just join one of the later cohorts for the particular module they skipped. Also, some of the MDP modules are featuring in UB’s Graduate Programmes in Science, Research, and Educational Management (see web site).
These measures provide students and sponsors with some flexibility to adjust the progression and duration of the programme and tailor them to their ambitions, time/financial constraints, and commitments to be made at any time. Additionally, the MDP network is working towards an increased mobility and credit transfer for students interested in pursuing their MDP studies in more than just one MDP hosting institution.