Student poverty in higher education: the impact of higher education dropout on poverty
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Data on higher education trends in South Africa indicate that 50% of students enrolled in higher education institutions drop out in their first three years with about 305 dropping out in their first year. This is despite the fact that some of these students will have passed their senior certificate with endorsement, merit or distinction. Many students also come from poverty-stricken families and are indebted to the National Student financial Aid Scheme, and other education funding agencies which support their studies. The drop out phenomenon does therefore not bode well for efforts to break the vicious cycle of poverty and is the major cause of the unacceptable low throughput rates in the higher education system. This chapter draws on the HSRC's Student Pathways Study (2005), which examined student dropout in South Africa's Higher education system, focusing on seven of the Higher Education institutions in particular.