Trends and Challenges in Measuring Student Success: A South African Perspective

  • Luvuyo Lumkile Lalendle
  • Miranda Mgijima


Determining what student success is and how it is measured has evolved. This highlights the complex nature of the debates on student success globally within higher education systems. Measuring student success is crucial and desirable in an era where rating and ranking of universities have gained such momentum. Pressure has been on modern universities to provide access with success. This has meant increasing enrolments, academic support for students, and staff to improve overall success rates.

This paper draws from audited Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) data from 2003 to 2014. The paper deploys an analytic review to gain insight into trends and challenges in respect to student success. It argues why module success rates, throughput, graduate attributes including graduate destinations, and employment rates should provide a holistic view on student success. Trends emerging from the analyses suggest varying levels of student success across the country’s public higher education institutions. To engage in these discussions, the North-West University (South Africa) has constantly asked pertinent questions regarding student characteristics, how to improve student academic experience, and what is worth knowing about teaching and learning.

Findings reflect the North-West University (NWU) as an institution that signifies growth and improvement in terms of student success. This could be attributed to regular evidence-based systematic reflections and an institutional strategy that has strong commitment to social justice. This paper, therefore, highlights the urgent need to review the utility of current measures to expand our conception of student success.


Transformation Student success Student destination surveys Teaching and learning Performance data Higher education 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.North West UniversityMmabathoSouth Africa

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