Perspectives on Contributory Factors to Student Success in Higher Education at a University in South Africa

Peter Sabelo ORCID iD & Dagogo William Legg-Jack ORCID iD

Issue: Vol.3  No.10 October 2022  Article 7  pp.499-514
DOI: |   Published online 27th October 2022.
© 2022 The Author(s). This is an open access article under the CCBY license (


Over time, many students that enroll in programmes at the university end up dropping out without completing their studies. This trend is worrisome as it points to a defeat of the objectives of entering and graduating from the university. Therefore, this study explored the perspectives of contributory factors to student success in higher education at a South African University. The study addressed one objective namely, participants’ understanding of factors that contribute to student success in higher education. To address this objective, a qualitative case study design located in the interpretive paradigm was employed to generate data through a semi-structured interview from twelve participants purposively selected from undergraduate and postgraduate students. Of these twelve participants, four represented First Time Entering (FTEN) students, four (4) second year  and third year respectively and four (4) postgraduate students across two faculties, namely the Faculty of Education and School Development and Faculty of Economics and Information Technology Systems , Komani campus,Walter Sisulu University, South Africa. The data was analysed thematically. The results revealed the following themes, namely, no student left behind, the need for an enabling environment, students as partners, data-informed practices, assessment for sustainability, and a multi-dimensional approach for success. With these findings, the study concludes that addressing the needs of all students collectively, creating an enabling environment, involving students as partners, the use of data-informed practices, and assessment for sustainability among others all impact students’ success in higher education. Thus, as part of the contribution to the body of knowledge, these findings highlight factors that contribute to the debate on students’ success in higher education.

Key Words: First Time Entering Students (FTENs), Higher Education, Enablers of Student Success

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Sabelo Raymond Peter is currently working as an acting Manager in the Directorate of Learning and Teaching (DLT), Komani Campus at Walter Sisulu University, South Africa. He is also the Student Success Committee chairperson, at Komani Campus.  He is also part of a Student Success Team at the University. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Education at one of the South African Universities. He obtained his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Management College of South Africa. He has more than 12 years in the higher education sector, as both an academic and academic developer, respectively. He has participated in seminars and conferences within South Africa. He is the Chairperson of the Board of Directors for a local security cooperative, Chairperson and Founder of the Men of Integrity International Association (CBO) for men, and Chairperson of the Regional Student Christian Organisation [SCO]. His school of thought is influenced by social justice theories. systems thinking, critical realist theories, and transformational leadership. Hence, his research interests are around student success, academic leadership, and academic development discourses for educational reform. 


Dagogo William Legg-Jack, currently, is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Directorate of Research Development and Innovation Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa. He obtained his Masters and PhD in Technology Education in Science and Technology Education Cluster, University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), South Africa. Dagogo has worked twice as a Contract lecturer in the Department of Technology Education, Science and Technology Education Cluster UKZN. In Nigeria, he has also served as a teacher in high schools, where he taught Technology-based subject. He also functioned as a lecturer in the Department of Metal Work Technology, School of Secondary Education (Technical), Federal College of Education (Technical), Omoku, Rivers State, Nigeria for about twelve years. Dr Legg-Jack has supervised students’research projects both at Nigerian Certificate of Education and undergraduate levels. He is a mentor to research students at Honours, Masters and Doctorate levels. Moreover, he has participated in seminars and conferences both within and outside South Africa and has published articles in peer reviewed journals that focus on skills development, poverty reduction as well as wealth creation. Some of his recent publications is titled “Readiness for the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Experiences of Students in Practical Courses During Covid-19 Pandemic at a University in South Africa”, Digitalisation of Teaching.

Sabelo P. & Legg-Jack D.W. “Perspectives on Contributory Factors to Student Success in Higher Education at a University in South Africa,” E-Journal of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences 3, no.10 (2022):499-514.

© 2022 The Author(s). Published and Maintained by Noyam Publishers. This is an open access article under the CCBY license (