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This article assesses whether access programmes are a productive method of identifying potentially successful students in the Higher Education sector in South Africa. It presents the voices of successful students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, who did not go directly into the mainstream programme but had to commence university education through an access programme. The interest of this investigation lies in the area of the broader academic and social discourses that they, as successful access students, inhabit and through which they produce and perform their success in undergraduate studies. The philosophy of Ubuntu and its relationship to epistemological access, the role of agency and self-regulation and student-institution reciprocity are examined using an adaptation of Tinto’s student integration model as a starting point.
Keywords: Access, academic success, Ubuntu, narrative analysis, Tinto’s integration model, higher education.