Some determinants of Academic Exclusion and Graduation in three faculties at UCT

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University of Cape Town


University graduation rates have become increasingly important for institutions and policymakers alike. Academic exclusion, or other forms of withdrawal from university, represents a loss to the individual, the institution and broader society. This paper investigates the determinants of graduation and academic exclusion in UCT’s Commerce, Engineering and Built Environment and Science faculties using survival analysis. The sample consists of 11 959 students who registered for a degree in one of these three faculties between 2006 and 2013.

The results suggest that there are large differences in graduation and academic exclusion rates between different groups of students. Factors which increased the likelihood of graduating were being female, white, ineligible for financial aid (suggestive of greater affluence), proficient in English, attending a Quintile 5 or independent school and having obtained good Grade 12 grades. On the other hand, students who are male, eligible for financial aid (indicative of coming from poorer backgrounds), non-English-speaking, have attended poorly resourced schools and achieved low school grades are more likely to be academically excluded. Relative to the Commerce faculty, the Science and EBE faculties exclude a substantially greater proportion of poorly performing students in the first and second years. The Commerce Faculty excludes relatively few students in the first two years, but the exclusion rate increases sharply in the third and subsequent years.

A number of people deserve recognition for the help and support that I received from them. It gives me great pleasure in conveying my gratitude towards all these people. I would like to thank Zandile Tennyson and Jane Hendry from UCT’s Institutional Planning Department for meeting my numerous requests for data In addition, I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to friends and family who provided encouragement to me throughout these years. All the time we have spent together will always be cherished.