Higher Education Dropout Rates and the Masicorp Bursary Scheme

The Council on Higher Education (CHE) and Department of Higher Education and Training have expressed concerns over the high dropout rates at South African universities. Despite the critical need for high level skills, particularly amongst the country’s previously disadvantaged groups, it seems the higher education system remains difficult for young people to access and complete successfully.

t-shirt South Africa’s university dropout rates are high by international standards. They have been around 50% since the 1990’s, and the most recent statistics indicate a worrying further decline to 58%. This compares unfavourably with the UK (16%), France (19%) and the United States (30%). While these are clearly developed economies, even a comparison with other African nations indicates problems for South Africa. The other two African nations with a similar sized higher education system, Nigeria and Ethiopia, have estimated dropout rates of 20% and 35%, respectively.

The reasons for South Africa’s high dropout rates include financial constraints (students enrol for courses but do not have funding to see them through), lack of academic preparedness and lack of support while at universities. This is where the Masicorp bursary programme can play a huge role. The Masicorp bursary system removes financial uncertainty, and the role of the mentors is crucial in providing the non-academic emotional support that students seem unable to access on campus.

LOYThe dropout rate among the 50+ students that have passed through the bursary programme is less than 10%. More than a third of all students entering higher education in South Africa drop out in the first semester, when the shock of moving away from home and the reality of the step up in educational standards really hits. None of the Masicorp bursary students has ever dropped out at this stage thanks to the support and encouragement provided by the programme. We have many success stories among our graduates who have gone on to find employment in their fields of expertise. This week we will be sharing some of these success stories. Please check back here later in the week to read our updates.


For a case study of Mechanical Engineering graduate Olwethu Mlaza please click HERE

For a case study of Management graduate Lungelwa Mkokeli please click HERE

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