On average only 30% of students from OECD countries will leave university with a degree in hand. High student dropout rates are particularly prevalent in countries like South Africa, where only 55% of contact students graduate within n+2 years (where “n” is regulation time). This is especially concerning considering the already low participation rate (1 in 5 high school students) in the country.
Poor university throughput rates have an added knock-on effect, where grants provided to universities are lost on non-graduating students. This means that our country fails to reduce inequality, and loses tax revenue that would have been gained from graduate-level jobs. The current status quo is thus proving ineffective in producing university graduates. The problem is only going to get worse as more students enter the system. This is the most critical issue facing the higher education sector in South Africa after the announcement of free tertiary education!
For bursary funders, when a student fails, there are two direct expenses: Firstly, it is unlikely that the student will be able to pay back their bursary obligation. This obligation can be up to ZAR 360K+ if the student fails in their final year. Secondly, the company finds itself in a situation where it must now find a new student that it can recruit to meet its graduate requirements. The recruitment expense for a single graduate has been estimated at around ZAR 40k. It is evident that bursaries provide critical financing for previously disadvantaged students to pursue their higher education ambitions. However, at the moment, most donors lack the capacity to support these students beyond financing. This lack of support leads to students who struggle to excel academically or develop as holistic graduates. These students often fail to stand out in their chosen professions.
After their graduation, having been affected by the problem, Lungelo and Ludwick, looked to see how they could solve the issue of student support. This is how Excel@Uni was born.
Our services directly impact students by giving them a greater chance of completing university and being well-prepared for the workplace. This will directly reduce the cycle of poverty and inequality. We have also noted that students from disadvantaged backgrounds serve as a form of inspiration in their communities. When they complete their studies, they inspire youngsters from their communities to succeed despite their background. By managing success, Excel@Uni protects the dream of an equal society.