About 50 percent of students drop out during their first year. Find out why...

A study conducted by the Council of Higher Education (CHE) from 2008 to 2013, revealed that round 50 percent to 60 percent of students at higher learning institutions drop out during their first year. These findings led to the creation of the South African National Resource Centre for the First Year Experience and Students in Transition at University of Johannesburg (UJ) which hopes to tackle the issues leading to the high dropout rate.

CapeTalk/702’s Redi Tlhabi spoke to the Director of the Academic Development Centre at the University of Johannesburg, Dr Andre van Zyl, about the extent of the problem and some of the ways in which universities can solve it.

Dr van Zyl explained that they take up to 18 percent of students coming out of school into the system and lose a fifth by the end of their first year.

We tend to lose the biggest proportion during their first year. We are also looking at later years and we will look at that in more detail at a later stage. But it seems like the biggest bottleneck is the first year. If we lose them there then we certainly have lost them for the system as a whole and that is what we want to start addressing first.

Dr Andre van Zyl

What seems to be the problem?

Entrance to university as first generation (first in your family at university) Socio economic challenges Language and writing ability Finances

According to Dr van Zyl, although the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is doing a good job in supporting students financially, it’s never enough.

He says that there are ways that could be explored to help students, for example, e-text books and ensuring that students don't go hungry.

How to prepare students for higher education learning?

Dr Andre says students should be prepared at school and at home. He says often teachers focus more on getting good matric results and forget about what will happen the following year.

He also spoke about helicopter parenting which is the most common style of parenting. He says that parents hover around their kids which becomes a problem when that particular child goes to university and suddenly they are no parents hovering around.

Here are some of the comments on twitter:

Listen below to hear of the conversation between Redi and Dr van Zyl

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