Lunga Simelane
2 minute read
14 Jun 2022
5:45 am

Out of 100 students, only 12 go to university – Nzimande

Lunga Simelane

University of KwaZulu-Natal associate professor in Education Wayne Hugo said the issue of students dropping out stemmed from the historical struggle of access to quality education.

Picture: iStock

More and more students are dropping out of university than ever before – and the reasons are myriad, say experts.

Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande said South Africa needed to produce more graduates if it was to meet its workforce needs.

Speaking at a Fuel Retailers Association conference last Thursday, Nzimande said SA’s current graduate statistics were concerning and there were few students who ultimately made it through SA’s school system.

“One of the challenges we need to confront, is the number of students who enter our university system, as a proportion of those who started Grade 1. Out of 100 students, only 12 access our university system, and only six complete – four with a degree,” he said.

University of KwaZulu-Natal associate professor in Education Wayne Hugo said the issue of students dropping out stemmed from the historical struggle of access to quality education.

He said the type of students who attended university since democracy showed the radical increase of black intake, which was vital, but also revealed how students struggled during first and second years because there was no guidance and understanding. Hugo said students faced difficulties in engaging with the university type of study.

ALSO READ: School dropouts show education crisis in SA

“We have got a situation where they are coming from historically disadvantaged schools which do not have quality education because they are underfunded,” he said

“And now there are more students and there is less money coming in from the state for them and those that are coming in are less prepared for the university life, hence the huge dropout rate.”

Wits University director of academic affairs, Prof Diane Grayson, said one of the biggest factors influencing dropout rates was students’ socio-economic conditions.

“Not only do many students have insufficient funds to pay for all of their needs – such as tuition, meals, accommodation, books and personal necessities – but many were also expected to contribute to alleviating their families’ needs for basic necessities,” she said.

Grayson said universities should strengthen their holistic student support efforts. Chief economist of the Efficient Group Dawie Roodt said while it was all good to have a degree, the reality was that there was no longer demand for certain degrees in SA.

“We need to put more emphasis other skills where there is a huge shortage in the economy. Typical things people think its inferior jobs which are actually not,” he said.

– lungas@citizen.co.za