Recruitment and orientation of students studying environmental health in African Higher education institutions

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For many students attending African Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), the course and
subsequent career they follow may not be their first choice due to limited places and school/
placement results. This is also compounded with the transition from government school systems to
higher education where expectations are different and self discipline and study are essential. A survey
of environmental health students in seven HEIs in six African countries indicated that only 68%
received orientation when starting their university careers. Two out of every five students indicated
that environmental health (EH) was not their first choice of course and just over half of those
reported that they did not know what environmental health was when they began the course.
Induction and orientation of new students has been shown to assist academic integration and
enhance student outcomes. However, many EH departments in HEIs do not currently have a standard
orientation and induction process for new students, often relying on institutional systems to
undertake this task which can overburden students with information and systems. Subsequently,
students are unaware of academic expectations, are unfamiliar with facilities and departmental staff
and cannot see where their studies are taking them in terms of a career. To overcome these obstacles
the Africa Academy for Environmental Health (AAEH) has developed a guidance note for student
recruitment and orientation which contains generic packages departments can adapt as necessary.
These systems have been piloted and adapted as necessary. The AAEH therefore advocate the
following recommendations: (1) that all EH departments in HEIs follow the guidance document to
assist in the adaptation and socialisation of students into the higher education system, (2) that
further research be undertaken in HEIs to identify suitable innovative and interactive methods to
achieve student orientation in both school and HEI level.
Original languageEnglish
TypePolicy Brief
Number of pages2
Place of Publicationonline
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • recruitment
  • orientation
  • environmental health
  • african higher education

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