The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

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Student attrition has been a perennial theme in South African higher education throughout the past decade. In its National Plan for Higher Education (2001), the Department of Education attributed high dropout rates primarily to financial and/or academic exclusions. Four years later, it reported that 30% of students dropped out in their first year of study and a further 20% during their second and third years.

Against this backdrop, the erstwhile research programme on Human Resources Development initiated a research project to investigate more thoroughly why students dropped out, what led them to persist in higher education to graduation, and what made for a successful transition to the labour market. The chapters in this volume variously address these issues in relation to one or more of seven institutional case studies conducted in 2005.

Although the data analysed pertain to the 2002 cohort of graduating/non-completing students and to institutional data for 2004/5, their currency is confirmed by the recent interest expressed by the new Ministry of Higher Education and Training in exploring ways for continuously improving the access and success, particularly of black students, at all levels of the system (Budget Speech, Minister of Higher Education and Training, June 2009).

The HSRC research programme on Education, Science and Skills Development spans three major social domains: education; science and innovation studies; and the world of work. The education domain focuses on issues of access, quality, relevance and equity at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Science and innovation studies explores the link between technology, innovation, and economic development. The world of work researches labour markets, skills, and human resources development. The strength of the programme resides, however, in its unique ability to harness research work at the interface of these three domains.

Open Access

Product information

Format : 240mm x 168mm (Soft Cover)
Pages : 144
ISBN 10 : 0-7969-2309-4
ISBN 13 : 978-07969-2309-7
Publish Year : 2009
Rights : World Rights

Acronyms and abbreviations

Michael Cosser and Moeketsi Letseka
Background to the Student Retention and Graduate Destination Study
Organisation of the monograph

1 Uniformity and disjunction in the school-to-higher-education transition
Michael Cosser
Findings from the Student Retention and Graduate Destination Study
Observations arising from the analysis

2 Poverty, race and student achievement in seven higher education institutions
Moeketsi Letseka, Mignonne Breier and Mariette Visser
South Africa: Two nations
Poverty in the Student Retention and Graduate Destination Study
Race and poverty
The apartheid legacy in education
Reasons for premature departure
Financing studies
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme

3 Student inclusion and exclusion at the University of the Witwatersrand
Gill Scott and Moeketsi Letseka
Racial desegregation
Staff integration
Curriculum integration
Institutional culture integration

4 Dropout or stop out at the University of the Western Cape
Mignonne Breier
An institutional case study
The Student Retention and Graduate Destination Study at UWC

5 Weighing success and diversity in the balance at Stellenbosch University
Trish Gibbon
Measuring success at Stellenbosch University
Success factors
Non-completion at Stellenbosch University
Changing Stellenbosch Universitys diversity profile

6 The graduate labour market
Percy Moleke
Measuring the performance of the South African graduate labour market
Graduate labour market outcomes among the study cohort
Graduate employment

7 Student graduation, labour market destinations and employment earnings
Haroon Bhorat, Natasha Mayet and Mariette Visser
Higher education transition: A descriptive overview
From higher education to the labour market: A snapshot of trends
Graduation, employment and earnings: A multivariate analysis
The determinants of labour market outcomes: Employment and earnings equations

Michael Cosser

Michael Cosser is a chief research specialist in the research programme on Education, Science and Skills Development at the Human Sciences Research Council.

Moeketsi Letseka is a senior lecturer in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of South Africa (UNISA).

Mignonne Breier is Research Development Cluster Manager in the Research Office at the University of Cape Town.

Mariette Visser is a research manager in the research programme on Education, Science and Skills Development at the Human Sciences Research Council.

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