Obstacles to success – Doctoral student attrition in South Africa

  • C Herman
Keywords: Doctoral student attrition, attribution theory, doctoral education, South Africa


The article explores doctoral attrition in South Africa, investigating and comparing the attributions of attrition of doctoral students and PhD programme leaders. The article is based on secondary data analysis of two large studies on doctoral education in South Africa. The main point of the article is that the different understandings of the students and the PhD programme leaders, as well as the gaps in the narratives of both groups, are an indication of a lack of in-depth understanding of the actual causes of doctoral attrition. Using attribution theory, the article suggests that this lack of understanding may contribute to further attrition and calls for further research on the topic.

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0258-2236