Thursday, 20 September 2012

South Africa produces few PHD graduates

By Michelle Branco
Chief Commercial & Marketing Officer, Eduloan

A lot has been said about the state of education in South Africa, the quality of graduates that the country has been producing, and the impact on the economy.

Yet among the challenges that the Department of Higher Education faces are low enrolment rates for PHDs. Lack of finance and steep tuition fees contribute to the low graduation rate.

Fees are too high

According to a study conducted by Marc Gurgand and Adrien Lorenceau from the Paris School of Economics and Thomas Melonlo from Agence Francaise de Development, using information supplied by SA’s Department of Higher Education, tuition fees for tertiary education in South Africa are relatively high in relation to average income per household, particularly when compared to the ratios of other developing countries. That has a direct impact on the enrolment rates for tertiary education.

Increasing the number of PhD graduates in South Africa is of particular interest to Eduloan, as doing so will go a long way to enlarging  the country’s skills pool, which has suffered tremendous drainage over the years.

As the National Development Plan report correctly points out, if South Africa is to be a leading innovator, then urgent and particular focus needs to be paid on increasing the number of graduates, post-graduates and PhDs in all science, engineering, technology and mathematics related fields.

Private funders such as Eduloan have played a role in helping to accelerate the numbers and fill the gaps that previously existed. One of the findings from the research shows that 76% of students who applied to a public university enrolled when given a loan, whereas only 53% did so without a loan. Data sourced from the Department of Education’s Higher Education Management Information System (HEMS), which collects individual data on every student entering the higher education system,  when matched with the Eduloan data, reflects that students on loans are more likely to go on to complete their studies.

Study loans as a solution

Eduloan supplied the impact study with two sets of critical information: data for applications between 2004 and 2007, as well as data indicating successful loan applications.  Statistics show that the ‘pay as you study’ methodology has had a positive impact on the number of enrolments and graduations at tertiary institutions, especially considering that in a developing country, the number of people who are affected by the credit crunch, have a very slim chance of being allowed to continue with their studies.

The authors found that a significant portion of the population still experience credit constraints in accessing higher education, particularly in the low to intermediate income brackets.

Recipients of loans must be in full-time employment and earn more than R2000 after deduction of Eduloan’s monthly reimbursements and the instalment must not exceed 25% of the monthly salary.

There is no doubt that the economic crunch reduced access to refinancing for a lot of people, with commercial banks tightening  lending laws and  thus further limiting access to credit, even for the middle class.

Eduloan has managed to remain a viable, affordable and responsible loan option for many students who otherwise would not be able to afford the costs associated with tertiary study. Eduloan’s involvement in the local tertiary sector assists in creating education that is accessible to all South Africans, leading to the up-skilling of the population and contributing to the overall development of a skilled, competitive nation on the global stage.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Write Your Own Story and you could win with Eduloan!

Is the fear of not being able to settle your outstanding fees interfering with your studies? Do you worry that your results will not be released? Well here’s a chance to rewrite your own story, this time without those fears.

Eduloan has helped South Africans from all walks of life with over 620 000 study loans to enable them to graduate – not only with registration fees and study aids but for outstanding fees that could prevent graduates from writing final examinations or getting their results.

Eduloan is there to help you complete the story of your dreams in real life, and not to let your outstanding study fees interfere with your bright future…

Over the next four weeks, we’ll be featuring a peek into the lives of ten South African people on our Facebook page, and it’s up to you to help them finish their stories.

Just complete the story in the competition tab and fill out the form with your details and we could pay your outstanding study fees to the value of R7500 OR you could win a Samsung Galaxy Tab valued at the same amount!

All you have to do is complete the story in the competition tab and fill out the form with your details. The story will change every second day, so make sure you complete all ten stories to increase your chances of winning!

You can enter the Write Your Own Story competition on our Facebook page here, and if you’re on a mobile phone, you can enter on our mobi site here. Complete the stories and you could be ‘writing home’ about your prize! 

Friday, 14 September 2012

“Working towards success”: interview with the winner of the One Day Is Today competition

We recently ran a competition on our Facebook page called the “One Day Is Today” competition, which focused on inspiring not only students but also every South African to never give up on their dreams and aspirations.

In the competition, we asked students to tell us why they deserved the prize, and although it was an incredibly difficult decision from the hundreds of entries we received, it was Vincent Olebogeng Sehume’s submission that the judges felt deserved to be picked as the winner:

“I am a first year student at North West University studying industrial psychology and human resource management. I cannot find a bursary and my parents are struggling to pay my tuition fee, my father is the bread winner hence I relied on him and he is not earning enough to provide the whole family and pay my tuition fees. We are a family of 11. My sister is studying long distance and she also relies on my father to pay her fees. I don’t even know how Iam going to pay my tuition fees at the end of this year. I’m a hard worker but I cannot focus on my studies because I’m always stressed about the situation I’m in. I sometimes think about dropping out and looking for a job just to make some money to pay my tuition fees. My dream is to finish my studies and make the world a better place for everyone.

South Africa is a nation with potential; we can make use of opportunities available including quality education in order to become successful. I believe that by empowering the young South Africans by educating them, we are working towards success.”

We caught up with Vincent recently to find out how the iPad2 and a bursary to the value of R15,000 would help him make his own dreams a reality.

Eduloan: Vincent, we were obviously very impressed with your heartfelt entry into our One Day Is Today competition. What was your reaction when you heard you had been chosen as the winner?

Vincent: I jumped for joy! I was so excited that I was actually speechless. I’d been struggling with my University fees so I was extremely thankful that I had won the competition.

Eduloan: How are the bursary and the iPad going to help you to go ahead with your studies? 

Vincent: As I said, I had been struggling with paying my tuition and making ends meet, so the money came in really handy. It brought about a great change in my life! The iPad is so useful; it’s assisting me in my studies through online research and taking notes in class. It’s really streamlined my studying routine. 

Eduloan: Why did you choose to study industrial psychology and human resource management and where do you see yourself ten years from now?

Vincent: I’m really interested in everything dealing with HR and industrial psychology. I love the fact that I can contribute to an organization's success by improving the performance, satisfaction and well-being of employees. I’m particularly interested in entrepreneurship and I want to pursue my dream of becoming an entrepreneur after I’ve gained enough work experience. I’d like to open a wholesale retail outlet.

Eduloan: Who would you say is your inspiration and role model?

Vincent: I frequently read business magazines for inspiration. I love reading about how entrepreneurs started their businesses. One of my role models is Patrice Motsepe, the mining magnate. I think it’s amazing that he came from such a humble background and elevated himself the way he did. It illustrates that if you work hard anything is possible.

Eduloan: What advice would you give to students when it comes to attaining a degree?

Vincent: I’d advise students to take their studies seriously as education is the key to success. If you put in the hard work now you’ll reap the rewards. Another important thing to remember is that you should invest your time wisely, don’t procrastinate!

We’re exceptionally proud to have made a contribution to Vincent’s life which will aid him in successfully qualifying with a degree. How many times have you had to put your dreams on hold because of obstacles in your way? Have you sacrificed the “you” that you could have been because you had to make someone or something else a priority?

At Eduloan we recognise the courage and determination of South Africans to make the most of themselves despite the odds being against them. Watch the One Day Is Today video above to find out more and keep an eye on our Facebook page for the next competition coming soon!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Ten tips on studying from a distance

Distance education allows people to study and still meet other commitments such as work or family. However it takes some extra dedication to successfully study from a distance.

It is important to recognise that study skills are a bit different too. There are steps you can take to make studying from a distance easier and more successful. Here are ten tips which should aid you in your pursuit of attaining your degree:

Do the ground work

One of the keys to succeeding at study is making sure other areas of your life are well organised and not worrying you. It’s particularly important to take care of your finances, accommodation arrangements and your health.

Set a study schedule and stick to it

You will know, from looking at your course load, whether this means four hours per week or 35. Stick to your schedule in order to keep up with the pace, meet deadlines, and ultimately succeed.

Set goals

And meet them. Your first goal may just be to organise your workload and that's a great place to start when you first begin studying for your degree. But set even bigger goals for yourself as you move on, like aiming to complete your bachelor’s degree!

Know your sources

Make sure you get your information from trusted sources. Use the study materials that come with your course as much as possible and call your tutor for assistance. Do not immediately trust publicly edited websites such as Wikipedia, be sure to compare the information with another source to check if it is valid.

Don’t get distracted

21st Century life is busier than ever before, with hundreds of different distractions out there to get in the way of your studies. Fight back: close Facebook. Turn your phone off. It’s not always easy, but you’ll learn far more through three hour’s uninterrupted work than any amount of time spent ‘working’ with distractions every five minutes.

Keep in touch

It’s really important if you’re studying for a degree by distance learning that you keep in touch with your tutor and stick to scheduled appointments. If you’re running into any problems talk to them.

Communicate effectively

If you study for a degree by distance learning you will not be forming the same sort of relationships that you would if you had regular taught sessions and tutorials. Be aware of the way you communicate with your tutor – online or over the telephone. Misunderstandings can easily arise particularly when you may never have met.

Don't wait until the last minute

As with any course it is more than wise not to procrastinate completing your coursework. With distance learning, you have to remember that you are relying on the postal service or on technology

Take practice exams

Practice makes perfect. Time yourself while taking practice exams so you know whether or not you are assessing an exam within the allotted time.

Make or join a study group

Two heads are often better than one. Many distance learning programs can link you up with your classmates. If not, contact your tutor and ask to be put into contact with a few classmates. Your group can then meet in the real world or via email (or another electronic method) or telephone. Such groups can also keep you motivated.

Create a workspace

Believe it or not, your environment plays a big part in learning. Make a clutter-free, comfortable space with adequate light. Make this space your learning space and nothing else.

Distance learning has special challenges. You will probably never see or meet the teacher. You won't have classmates. You don't have a campus full of people studying the same thing. But you can succeed if you plan on it!