n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - A comparative time review of recruitment and retention at a University in South Africa

Volume 20, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


Student recruitment and retention represent two important indicators that are often studied in order to explain patterns in student success. Recent years have seen a growing and asserted emphasis on the massification of education as part of a wider commitment to the social justice mandate of ensuring the inclusion of previously under-represented groups. Even so, many of the recruited students dropout before completion of their studies. The current piece presents a qualitative case study of a program at one the world's mega universities (The University of South Africa) and specifically asks the question about the factors that are associated with completion and/or attrition among students. Interestingly, the study considers issues related to completion at two chronological points (in 2006 and 2011) and by so doing, reflects on whether the factors that influence completion have transitioned with the passage of time. To verify the impressions of factors related to dropout, a total of 24 students were interviewed individually and in-group settings to elicit insider perspectives on their experiences of study in 2006. The latter comparative aspect is based on a desktop review of recent data on student success and speaks to how the domination of Information Communication Technologies (ICT's) has impacted the factors that determine success and/or failure among students. This comparative process reveals that many of the factors associated with success and/or drop out have remained unchanged over time with the exception of the fact that internet access and the possession of ICT skills have become increasingly important factors in determining the risk of dropout among students. Even so, among students who are equally deprived, access to ICTs is itself not a primary predictive factor in dropout. Critical perspectives presented here suggest that student recruitment has progressively become the primary priority of universities without an equally clear commitment to their retention and successful completion.

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