Transforming railway operations education in South Africa through a work-based, transnational collaboration: lessons learned, impact and future plans

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


A suite of work-based railway operations programmes has been delivered to Transnet employees since 2012 through a collaboration between Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Transnet Academy; Transnet is Africa largest rail company headquartered in South Africa. These programmes transformed larger-scale access to university-level education for working South Africans, providing an inclusive, accessible and progressive route to professionally- and organisationally-relevant learning, and ultimately to an internationally recognised qualification. 1400 undergraduate and postgraduate GCU awards have been made in these last 10 years, but the effect goes beyond numbers – to the impact on individuals and their families, their teams and to Transnet itself.
The programme is about to enter its third iteration in 2023, following on from a periodic programme review. An evidence-informed, inclusive co-design process (with Transnet as the client, programme alumni and current students, as well as staff from GCU and UJ) was used to inform the updated undergraduate and postgraduate programme design. This presentation will first outline the successes of the existing programmes from the student and client perspective (based on questionnaire and focus group findings). Thereafter the strategic drivers (Sustainable and digital transformation) and lessons learned about resilience and flexibility in the approach and the collaboration that sustained the delivery of this programmes during the COVID-19 pandemic will be detailed. Evaluation of student responses to different forms of hybrid learning (over 2020-2021 period) will illustrate the rationale to adopt a new enhanced blended learning delivery model, as well as the required collaborative development work of GCU and UJ staff, as well as students.
As such, the presentation aims to share key success factors in developing a resilient and flexible transnational, collaborative educational approach that provides working students an ability to access glocal (international and local) education, and the transformative impact that this has.
Period12 Jun 202314 Jun 2023
Event titleInternational Higher Education Teaching & Learning Association 2023 Conference: Re-imagining Education: Collaboration and Compassion
Event typeConference
LocationAberdeen, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • railway operations
  • transnational
  • work-based learning