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Higher Education Monitor: Access and throughput in South African higher education-Three case studies

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South African Council on Higher Education (CHE)


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This study investigates a range of campus experiences, perceptions of and attitudes to campus processes and practices, and the social context in which students learn and staff, faculty and administrators work. It seeks to clarify the enabling and constraining conditions for achieving the university's goals for access, throughput and retention. It addresses the following main questions: How do students negotiate their access and success within the Wits institutional environment? What individual or collective resources (cultural and material) do they resort to in the process? How does the institution mediate this process? To do this it explores three aspects of the Wits cultural web: (i) the institutional memory (histories, legacies, traditions, values and ethos) that the dominant culture tends to privilege and the discourses and assumptions and related institutional policies that form the basis of the university's academic and student practices; (ii) how these influence academic performance and the current throughput rates; and (iii) students' diverse experiences at the university of, on the one hand, racism, cultural isolation, sexual harassment and violence and, on the other, generally positive academic interactions and scholarly engagement.

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