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30 Jul 2021

How does HEPSA help universities?

Higher Ed Partners South Africa (HEPSA) is part of an international family of companies that specialise in making quality higher education accessible and affordable on four continents.

 

Established in South Africa in 2016, HEPSA has already converted and launched many successful online learning programmes at some of South Africa’s leading universities as well as further abroad in the rest of Africa.

 

These launches followed a formula that was developed and perfected in North America and South America, but carried out by a local team with a deep understanding of both the African and South African market and their distinct challenges.

 

With these successful implementations under our belt, we are actively seeking more partners to help us fulfil our goal of empowering and educating a greater number of Africans through affordable and high-quality education. Could you be our next partner?

 

How we operate

 

Our formula for collaborative partnership has been tried and tested by the global Higher Ed Partners network at more than 100 academic institutions across the world. Our local team works closely with our international network. This means there is both localised and personal attention to detail as well as the leverage of a larger global team.

 

In our partnerships, we provide several support services. We handle marketing, student enrolment and applications as well as technical and billing enquiries so that our partners can focus primarily on what they do best – teaching students.

 

Partnerships

 

Although we are an e-learning company, we do not offer any courses or programmes under our own branding or name. As our name implies, we instead partner with established institutions. These partnerships are long-term and, most importantly, they are mutually beneficial and sustainable.

 

As with any good partnership, it is important to have the right partner. For HEPSA the right partner is an established and reputable African university that wants to expand its online learning offerings.

 

Course conversion and development

 

The initial stage of our partnerships entails converting existing contact courses into effective and engaging online learning courses. Our expert academic team is well versed in adapting coursework into online modules that allow more flexibility for students and for them to begin their course at multiple possible starting times each year.

 

This allows students far more flexibility, which is one of the great appeals of online learning.

 

Tutor training and lecturer support

 

We help with the training of tutors to assist students in their online courses and relieve the course lecturers of some of the responsibility. This benefits the students with more personal attention, while also allowing scalability to enrol more students for each course.

 

Lecturers record their own lecture videos, but we assist them with the tools and skills to be able to do so confidently.

 

Technical implementation

 

As a result of the lockdowns and social distancing from the COVID-19 pandemic, many universities and lecturers have already had to adapt to some form of blended or hybrid learning. We can work with your existing platforms to extend them to purely online learning courses or help set up something new. In the unlikely event that there isn’t anything already in place, or if the current solutions are not satisfactory, we can assist with setting this up using industry-standard online learning platforms such as Canva or Blackboard.

 

HEPSA will also develop and manage an online learning ‘minisite’ off of your primary domain, such as online.universityname.ac.za or online.universityname.com. This portal will be the primary point of contact with students and prospective students and HEPSA will manage much of that contact. The portal will also attract new prospective students to the site, providing us with leads to drive up enrolment numbers.

 

Marketing and enrolments

 

Once the courses and technical systems are in place, the next phase is to market the courses and attract enrolments from suitably qualified applicants. This is where we bring the bulk of our contribution, drawing on our global team’s skills and expertise.

 

Our technical team works closely with the marketing team to ensure search engine optimisation (SEO) across the minisite. Our SEO experts in turn work closely with the content marketing team to generate a steady flow of informative and relevant content that matches the high standards of our partners and their offerings.

 

Over time we aim to establish our partners’ online portals as authoritative online information sources for various topics related to the courses offered. This allows for higher rankings in search results and increases organic traffic for the site.

 

We also invest in paid advertising targeted at specific audiences on various social media platforms. This is handled by the paid media team, who ensure that all promotions remain on-brand.

 

Once we have qualified leads, it is then up to the university to decide on whether or not the students meet the criteria to study. This is one area where we do not interfere and our partners retain independence and autonomy.

 

In addition to driving new enrolments, we also put a heavy focus on student retention. Once we have a student enrolled, we continue to work hard to keep them. We do this by responding to feedback and ensuring they have a pleasant experience that encourages them to complete their course and come back to study further.

 

Ongoing support

 

As part of our partnerships, we provide ongoing support services. Aside from academic queries, which are best handled by the lecturers and the universities themselves, we handle all other interactions with students.

 

This includes technical issues as well as handling of finances and billing enquiries. By providing this administrative support to our partners, we allow them to focus on the teaching of students.

 

Bringing it all together 

 

The rapid growth and uptake in e-learning globally and in Africa is something to take advantage of, but transitioning from a contact style to e-learning is not without challenges. An OECD study into e-learning cautioned that the cost savings in switching to online were “disappointing”, while a Times Live article noted that online courses often required more staff to maintain the same student numbers than for contact courses.

 

This is where HEPSA comes to the fore. We bring our experienced team to the partnerships. We’ve already got systems and infrastructure in place to handle much of that heavy lifting for you and we can do so in a scalable manner.

 

Bringing a new online course to market requires investments in skills, resources and time, but with HEPSA as your partner, you can do so quickly and cost-effectively. Most importantly, we create online learning programmes that bring the most benefit to the students.

aamir suleman