n South African Journal of Higher Education - What influences students to university education? Insights from the horse's mouth




South Africa has been experiencing a concerning decline in the number of students entering university. This is of course taking place at a time when major shortages of qualified personnel in business, commerce, science, engineering and technology are experienced in this country. Many reasons have been advanced for this apparent decline hence it was felt in this study that perhaps some answers might be found from students currently at university. A sample of 220 students taking different courses at university were asked to indicate why they had taken university education as well as how previous education had prepared them for higher education. Results indicated that students do see university education as offering an opportunity to develop as individuals. Also, they reported that such education would result in knowledge development and skills that would be useful later on in their lives. Tied to these, students also indicated that qualifications would enable their getting a good job. In terms of preparation for higher education most students were positive. However, a worrying aspect was the report that they never received career guidance when in their secondary education. It is concluded that positive results reported may be helpful in circumventing the current situation and that such a knowledge will provide means for promoting economic growth, fighting poverty, and entrenching democracy in South Africa.


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