Financial Challenges and the Subjective Well‑being of First‑year Students at a Comprehensive South African University
Since 1994, there has been a doubling in the enrolment of students in South Africa’s public universities. Students, especially first-generation students, face numerous challenges that may impact their subjective perceptions of their well‑being. In a milieu of high levels of suicide and depression amongst South Africa’s student population, the understanding of the variables determining students’ subjective well‑being (SWB) should be deepened. This article investigates the levels and changes in the SWB of successive groups of first‑year students at a comprehensive university in South Africa between 2014 and 2017. It makes use of a fit-for-purpose survey instrument. The results show that the SWB of students is influenced positively by their living arrangements and variables that have a direct influence on the educational environment in which they operate, such as feeling ‘at home’ and an overall level of satisfaction of the students’ experience at the university. Negative variables that influence the SWB of students include concerns regarding finances and upcoming tests, and living on campus or within walking distance of campus.
Keywords: determinants; happiness; subjective well‑being; university students
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike 4.0 International License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).