Cornerstone Christian College in Salt River, Cape Town has introduced a new concept in tertiary education in South Africa, taking quality, affordable higher education to students where they live, in partnership with selected churches.
The rollout of the novel Conerstone Learning Community programme (CLC) began in July. Several CLC campuses are already up and running and the immediate goal is to have 50 established throughout South Africa by January 2014.
Students will be able to complete degree, diploma, and certificate courses in an environment that takes advantage of latest e-learning technology whilst offering a traditional campus life experience.
Local church environment
Each CLC has a dedicated resource centre with a local server to download programme content and an equipped auditorium facility for live interactive discussion forums with other students enrolled in the same programmes. The local church environment offers students the benefits of enjoying pastoral care and community in the church rather than studying alone.
Cornerstone has come a long way from its humble origins in the 1970s as a minor institute, operating from the back room of a small Cape Flats church (then known as the Cape Evangelical Bible Institute) to the internationally recognised, Christian academic institution that it is today, said Tony Georgiou, head of business development, in an interview.
Cornerstone offers degree, diploma or certificate programmes in Business Leadership, Education, Interior Design and Decoration, Fine Arts, Psychology, Sociology / Community Development and Theology. All these programmes have full accreditation with the Council on Higher Education in South Africa.
Commenting on the institution’s multi-facted approach that includes academic, cultural and social elements, Georgiou said: “Getting a well-rounded education, with high academic standards and a focus on character formation, means that Cornerstone graduates are highly regarded in the marketplace, civil society and with government. Through our Cornerstone Learning Community Programme, we are bringing the unique Cornerstone education ethos to the wider South African community; at a price which is well below the fees charged by other universities.”
He said that experts around the globe agree that the future of education is based on ‘flipping the classroom’, where students watch the lecture on a tablet on their own and then meet with their peers. As a group, the students meet with their lecturer and together they work through and debate the content. This unique learning approach is firmly entrenched in the learning ethos at Cornerstone.
“Our institution is the pioneer of not only the CLC model, but also in creating mini campus-like experiences through the church network, where students receive a unique Cornerstone education experience.” he said.
Another factor that separates Cornerstone from other academic institutions is its Christian ethos. Cornerstone strives not only to produce exceptional scholars and visionary leaders but to inspire students to go into society and permeate their working environment with the principles of the Kingdom, said Georgiou.
Aware of the value that collaborative efforts will bring to maintaining and strengthening its position as a sought-after academic institution, Cornerstone has forged a formal partnership with New York’s Christian College (NYACK University) and has established informal ties with numerous other universities such as Bethel University and Azusa Pacific University in the USA.
As a private institute, Cornerstone does not qualify for government subsidies and relies heavily on individuals and companies to provide bursary funding for high-performing students who have difficulty in meeting their fee commitments and to cover staff and faculty salaries.
Joel Barker, a world-renowned futurist, once said: “Your past success and current success, is no guarantee of future success. You need to change your paradigm, in order to remain sustainable and competitive.” In line with this leadership philosophy, the Cornerstone Board has implemented a strategic plan to position their Institution as a University of first choice for students, within the next 3 -5 years. For the immediate future, 50 CLC’s will be established across South Africa by January 2014. Their Bachelor of Commerce and Foundation Phase in Education programmes, which have been submitted for accreditation, will also be offered from January 2014.
More information on Cornerstone is available at www.cornerstone.ac.za.