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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Higher education: drop out rates

Drop out rates of 50 percent

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Sue Blaine

Education Correspondent

SA's higher education chiefs have asked Education Minister Naledi Pandor to reconsider her plans to cap student  numbers.

Higher Education SA (Hesa), which represents university vice-chancellors and technikon principals, said yesterday that implementation of the plans would damage the higher education system.

It welcomed a planned higher education funding review by a task team that would include treasury officials, saying there was a growing realisation that the tertiary education sector was being asked to "do too much with too little".

Pandor has acknowledged that the sector has been squeezed financially, but last week she criticised tertiary education institutions for focusing on funding without making enough of an effort to ensure that students passed.

She said government wanted to slow the rapid growth in student numbers - they rose 20% between 2000 and 2003 - to ensure state funds available for higher education were not spread too thin and to curb the 50% dropout rate.

SA spent R1,5bn a year on students who dropped out of study, Pandor said.

Hesa chairman Barney Pityana said higher education authorities could not "welcome a model that sets blanket caps on enrolment and (by implication) readmission".

Pityana said Hesa was "seriously concerned" about the dropout rate, but did not agree that stringent readmission requirements would solve the problem.

"There are many reasons for students dropping out of their studies, which need to be better appreciated in order for them to be addressed.

"These include opportunities for academic support, poor career and information guidance, financial considerations and other social factors," he said.

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