Finance squeeze biggest cause of drop-outs

2011-10-17 00:00

A LACK of finances is the largest contributor to the growing drop-out rate in the county’s universities, says the Department of Higher Education.

A study by the Council of Higher Education found that 40% of students who enrol in higher education institutions will never get a qualification, while 50% will take five years to graduate. A third of those assisted by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, at a cost of about R5,7 billion, will drop out, while another third will not complete their degrees on time.

The department’s acting deputy director for universities, Dr Diane Parker, said, “The council has proposed to conduct a qualitative analysis in this regard. Based on these outcomes the department will further develop and refine its strategy to decrease drop-out rates.”

A study conducted by the Independent Institute of Education shows a growing trend of students abandoning higher education because of various challenges.

The institute’s director, Dr Felicity Coughlan, said that a more hands-on approach needs to be adopted to help curb the growing trend.

“The dropout rate stats make it clear that not all learners are ready for the freedom that comes with going to university,” Coughlan said.

National Student Financial Aid spokesperson Bonny Feldman said, “Up to 40% of the student loan amount is converted into a non-repayable bursary if the student passes well.

“In addition, for students in their final year of study … and graduates the loan will be fully converted into a non-repayable bursary.”

• thandiwe.jumo@witness.co.za

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