File Picture: Patrick Mtolo.
File Picture: Patrick Mtolo.

Research sheds light on barriers varsity student have to overcome to succeed

By Botho Molosankwe, Tebogo Monama Time of article published Aug 20, 2020

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Johannesburg - New research is shedding light on some of the barriers university students have to jump through in order to succeed.

While institutions of higher learning have had to adapt to Covid-19 by ensuring that students had access to data and laptops, research by student crowdfunding platform Feenix shows that even before the pandemic, students have been struggling. The research was done with 362 participants from 26 universities. Graduates and parents were also interviewed.

The research, published in May, found that 41% of students had to delay their studies for a variety of reasons. Half of them said they had to delay their studies because of a lack of funding, while 23% had to do so after failing.

Other reasons offered for delaying students include psychological trauma (14%) and medical issues (13%).

Even before the lockdown, 100% of all surveyed students said data and technology were important for their studies. Pre-lockdown, 46% of students didn’t have access to laptops or computers.

They said they needed laptops for learning and job applications. About 33% of students use YouTube for online learning, self-learning and practical visual learning. About 27% of students also didn’t have access to textbooks.

One of the most startling findings was that about 8% of students said they worried about food every day. Feenix chief executive officer Leana de Beer said the needs of university students went far beyond financial support to pay for their fees.

“The research found that students are also severely impacted by a lack of critical resources in order to thrive, such as food, accommodation, transport and data. This means that approximately 82960 students in South Africa carry the burden of being unable to buy food to ensure that they are eating adequate meals.”

She said Feenix had launched the CapTheGap campaign, which has enabled students to resume their studies by raising funds for data, laptops and transport costs.

Cara-Jean Petersen, student engagement manager at Feenix, said the data from the study would help the organisation in better helping students according to their needs.

“We can’t do this alone. So, we call on businesses to play their part in bridging the gap - whether it’s through the distribution services, food vouchers, access to data and resources, or financial support.

There is a hunger for knowledge in South Africa. We need to work together to help ensure that young people are equipped with the right resources and support to access higher education,” Petersen said.

The Star

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