South African Journal of Higher Education

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Assessing the impact of academic support: University of the Witwatersrand first-year Engineering

WM Onsongo


On average the B.Sc. (Eng.) degree programmes in South Africa universities graduate about 50±60 per cent of the students admitted. Generally, the highest dropout occurs in the first year of registration. This article reviews admission and graduation statistics at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and assesses the impact of recent academic support programmes on the pass rate from first year to second year. It is shown that even with the recent remarkable growth in numbers and changes in race demographics for the student intake to study engineering at Wits, it has been possible to achieve pass rates comparable to those recorded in the past when the students came predominantly from a privileged background. This proves that the academic support programmes have been effective and it is shown that there is room for improvement. It is recommended that suitable intervention at second-year level could further boost the throughput towards graduation.

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol. 20 (2) 2006: 273-287
AJOL African Journals Online