Evaluating the effectiveness of the regional collaboration on the common teaching platform for undergraduate nursing in the Western Cape
South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy necessitated transformation within all sectors to ensure their appropriateness for the new democratic era. In line with the national transformation agenda and the transformation and restructuring of the higher education sector, the Minister of Education in 2002 announced that the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) would be the only enrolling institutions for undergraduate nursing education in the Western Cape. This decision meant that the University of Stellenbosch and the University Cape Town would no longer enrol undergraduate nurses, but would combine their strengths in a collaborative manner with UWC to train nurses for the region. The Cape Higher Education Consortium (CHEC), however, proposed the establishment of a Common Teaching Platform (CTP) for undergraduate nursing education in the region, requiring collaboration between all higher education institutions in the Western Cape. The Common Teaching Platform came into effect in 2005. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the regional collaboration on the Common Teaching Platform for B Cur Nursing in the Western Cape. An evaluation research design using qualitative methods was adopted for the study. Stufflebeam’s decision-oriented evaluation model, which caters for the evaluation of the context, input, process and product components of programmes, was used to guide the research process. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and a record review were used to collect data from the Chief Executive Officers of CHEC; Deputy Vice-Chancellors of the participating universities; Deans of the Health Science Faculties; Heads of Departments, Lecturers and Students of the Nursing Departments of the participating universities. The study adopted an inductive approach to data analysis. The inductive analysis procedure described by Thomas (2003) was adapted and used. The results evinced a general lack of application of the basic tenets of change management and a systems approach to the planning and implementation of the Common Teaching Platform. Transformation of nursing education in the Western Cape, according to the results, was in line with the national transformation agenda. Participants, however, felt that people were not yet ready to collaborate and needed enough time to accept the change, given that transformation was relatively new in the country. A critical finding was that important stakeholders were excluded from the planning phase, which led to challenges during the implementation of the Common Teaching Platform. The results further highlighted that a top-down approach was adopted. Numerous challenges with regards to the implementation of the Common Teaching Platform, including inter alia, poor communication, lack of commitment to the collaboration process, lack of adequate resources and challenges with the delivery of the curriculum, were shared by all the participants. Despite all these challenges the results showed that the student throughput rates were not compromised, and that the number of reported complaints from lecturers and students decreased over the years. On the whole, however, participants felt that the goals of the collaboration were not met due to the unresolved challenges which included inadequate resources, lack of sharing of resources and expertise across institutions, lack of commitment to participation on the CTP and failure to produce sufficient graduates to address the nurse shortage in the province.