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Effective Institutional Intervention Where It Makes the Biggest Difference to Student Success: The University of Johannesburg (UJ) Integrated Student Success Initiative (ISSI)

André van Zyl
Graham Dampier
Nkosini Ngwenya


Low levels of student success in South Africa have persisted as a seemingly intractable problem. There have been some gains in student success over time, but with a participation rate of approximately 18%, the current success rates still represent massive financial and human losses to the country. Internationally there is a trend to move towards interventions that are more strongly data-informed at every step and the available evidence indicates that these interventions are more likely to have the desired effect. This article reports back on the first 24 months of implementation of one such intervention, namely the Integrated Student Success Initiative (ISSI), at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The ISSI uses data to inform every step of the process which includes planning, selection and targeted intervention and evaluating possible impacts. The ISSI is showing promise as an effective strategy for improving student success and is allowing the institution to focus its limited resources where they have the potential to make the biggest difference.

Keywords: collaboration; data informed interventions; integrated initiatives; student success