International Accreditation for University of Botswana’s Urban & Regional Planning Undergrad Programme

On the 24th May 2016 the Urban & Regional Planning (URP) programme offered in the Department of Architecture and Planning, Faculty of Engineering and Technology, became the first programme at the University of Botswana to be awarded full accreditation by an international professional body, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) of the United Kingdom. Only two urban and regional planning programmes in Africa are accredited by the RTPI – namely, the University of Cape Town, South Africa and now the University of Botswana.

“The RTPI has now received the written assurance required and we can confirm that the University of Botswana has met the outstanding conditions for Full Accreditation,” states a letter dated May 24, 2016 penned by the RTPI Chief Executive, Trudi Elliot.

Established in 1914, the RTPI is a professional body which promotes and develops policies on the education, practice and ethical conducts of professional urban and regional planners in Britain, Ireland and the commonwealth countries. It is responsible for maintaining professional standards and accrediting world class planning courses nationally and internationally. The RTPI has over 23, 000 members of which 1,100 are international members from over 80 countries including Canada, USA, Australia, South Africa and Botswana.

The process to accredit the Urban and Regional Planning started in 2008 when the Faculty of Engineering and Technology decided to accredit all its programmes in pursuit of the University of Botswana’s Vision “to be a leading academic centre of excellence in Africa and the World”.

While the URP programme opted to seek accreditation by the RTPI, the Department of Industrial Design and Technology went for the Institute of Engineering Design in UK and the rest for the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). The RTPI first visited the Department to assess the structure of the programme, quality of academic and support staff, student work, studios and other facilities. Following this visit, the URP structure was revised and the MA (Professional) undergraduate degree was introduced to compliment the then prevailing BSc degree. Admissions under the revised programme was carried out in 2011/12 academic year while the first MA (Professional) intake was in 2012/13. The Programme received Provisional Accreditation in 2012, conditional Full Accreditation in 2014 and Full Accreditation in May 2016.

M.A (Professional) Planning graduates are immediately eligible to become Licentiate Members of the RTPI and Chartered Town Planners after 2 years of practical planning experience and successful completion of an Assessment of Professional Competence (APC).

Besides the honour and raising the status of the Department, faculty and the University in general, the acquisition of full accreditation will enable the URP programme to attract students from neighbouring countries and beyond. It is already listed on the RTPI website as an accredited programme (http://rtpi.org.uk/education-and-careers/find-a-course/accredited-qualifications) and will from now on feature in its worldwide advertisement of accredited schools. Accreditation assures parents, sponsors and prospective employers that the URP program has been evaluated and has met quality standards established by international professional bodies. Consequently, URP graduates are readily registered to practice as professional town planners in almost all countries in the world. In addition, accreditation represents peer recognition of the high quality of staff and facilities within the department and the University in general.

Prof. A.C.Mosha is an RTPI Dialogue member.

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