Analysis of survival rates among postgraduate students at a historically disadvantaged university in South Africa
Higher education institutions in South Africa struggle with developing strategies to increase student throughput and minimise dropout rates of postgraduate students resulting in failaure to reach 80% success rate, targeted by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). The aim of this study was to identify factors contributing to the survival rates of post-graduate students at a Historically Black University located in the
Limpopo Province in South Africa. A retrospective cohort study design focused on post-graduate students who were registered at the university under study from 2011 to 2017 (n=1124). The university collected comprehensive longitudinal data on students in the system throughout. The Cox proportional hazards model was used to determine factors contributing to the survival of postgraduate students. The study found a negative
relationship between dropout rates in postgraduate studies and the following factors: being female, having financial assistance, being admitted over 30 years of age and residing on campus. Students with these characteristics tended not to drop out of their studies. Further, lack of funding was also found to have an effect on the progress of the students with their studies. In a nutshell, unless these issues are addressed, the goal to
increase student throughput and minimise the dropout rates of postgraduate students in South Africa may remain farfetched.
Keywords: Students; Survival; Doctoral; Dropout; Postgraduate; Cox proportional hazards model