Student persistence in higher education : a study of the challenges and achievements of a group of historically disadvantaged senior students studying at the University of the Western Cape

Sampson, Leonie Georgina (2011-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Students from impoverished economic backgrounds have the highest drop‐out rates within the higher education sector. Research conducted both locally and internationally reveals that there are several variables that influence a student’s decision to leave the higher education institution. Very little research has concentrated on why students from deprived backgrounds advance academically or what enables them to do so. In South Africa, numerous changes have been introduced on the social, economic and educational fronts in attempts to correct the inequality prevalent in the country. In education, various changes and programmes have been introduced. Increasing access to higher education for poor black students has been one of the primary goals of change within that sector. The results, though, are alarming. Despite this increased access, many continue to drop out; the reasons are varied. Some, however, do stay. This research was aimed at finding out what contributed to a group of poor black students’ advancing academically when many of their peers had dropped out. There is no theory of what these factors could have been. Although the researcher realises that the results of this study will not be generalisable, it is an important discussion to initiate if we as South Africans truly want to support disadvantaged students entering higher education institutions. Without attempts to find adequate support structures, many will continue to be let down by the system.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Studente uit ʼn verarmde ekonomiese agtergrond het die hoogste uitvalkoers in die hoëronderwyssektor. Navorsing wat plaaslik sowel as internasionaal uitgevoer is, toon dat daar verskeie veranderlikes is wat ’n student se besluit beïnvloed om die hoëronderwysinstelling te verlaat. Bitter min navorsing is al gedoen om vas te stel wat dit is wat studente uit ʼn verarmde ekonomiese agtergrond in staat stel om akademies vol te hou en te vorder. Daar is verskeie veranderings op die sosiale, ekonomiese en onderwysfront in Suid‐ Afrika ingevoer om die ongelykheid wat in die land heers, te probeer regstel. Wat onderrig betref, is verskeie veranderings en programme ingevoer. Een van die vernaamste doelwitte van verandering in hierdie sektor was verhoogde toegang tot hoër onderwys vir arm swart studente. Nogtans is die resultate kommerwekkend. Hoewel hulle toegang verkry, val talle van hierdie studente steeds uit – om verskeie redes. Nietemin is daar studente wat volhou. Hierdie navorsing is daarop gemik om uit te vind wat daartoe bygedra het dat ’n groep arm swart studente akademies vorder terwyl baie van hulle eweknieë uitgeval het. Geen teorie bestaan oor wat hierdie faktore kon gewees het nie. Hoewel die navorser besef dat die resultate nie veralgemeen kan word nie, is dit belangrik dat hierdie gesprek aan die gang kom as ons as Suid‐Afrikaners werklik steun wil bied aan benadeelde studente wat instellings van hoër onderrig betree: As ons nie toereikende ondersteuningstrukture probeer vind nie, sal talle steeds deur die stelsel in die steek gelaat word.

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